July 2015 Issue

Detection Tools, Then And Now

In the beginning, airborne lightning detection was a bug, not a feature. Older radios, especially the automatic direction finder (ADF), tended to fall down when thunderstorms and associated lightning were about. Communications became filled with static and the ADF needle pointed to the lightning, not the desired station. Soon, enterprising pilots figured out the ADF was pointing at a dangerous part of the thunderstorm and used it as an avoidance tool, coarse though it was. Then, weather radar become small and light enough to routinely be fitted to transports, relegating the ADF to pointing at outer markers again.

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