October 2011 Issue

Shared Responsibility?

A King Air pilot lets ATC choose his heading through a squall line, with deadly results.

Among the three weather phenomena that get my greatest attention, thunderstorms occupy the top two slots (icing gets the third). It’s not that I’m scared of thunderstorms; rather, it’s that I respect them. I’ve been in them—on the ground—and close enough to them in the air that I understand their power and unpredictable nature. One of the last places I want to be is in an airplane in the middle of one. My main tactic when dealing with thunderstorms is to remain in VMC. I’ll enter IMC, but only if I know what’s on the other side, based mostly on my Mk. I, Mod 1 eyeball. When approaching a group of storms, I’ll maneuver the airplane to ensure what I’m looking at is clear sky and not just some sky-colored cloud hiding an angrier one.

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