August 2000 Issue

Rain on Planes

Heavy rain carries a host of dangers, including illusions that could lead to landing short

Very seldom does instrument training adequately prepare a pilot for flying in actual weather. While an instrument rating gives you the ability to fly in the clouds, the wisdom of knowing what to avoid is more difficult to earn. One weather situation that seldom comes up during training but that greatly increases the risk for the pilot is heavy rain.

The biggest risks of flying in heavy rain are the associated windshears, downdrafts and visual illusions. The problem can be particularly difficult during approach, where you have limited ability to divert unless you abandon the approach entirely.

Heavy rain showers, especially close to decision height, can be very distracting and furthe...

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