Video of Thunderstorm at 36000ft

I have mentioned many times that flying directly through a thunderstorm is avoided due to the severe turbulence it can cause. However, we often fly close to storms and pilots will weave their way around the storm clouds. This makes for some amazing scenes. Here is a video of a thunderstorm recorded by a pilot in the cockpit, over Turkey; This storm may have caused turbulence, and it may have even led to the aircraft being struck ny lightning. Neither of these events is dangerous though. Hope you enjoyed the quick clip... beautiful isn't it. For more information on what happens if the aircraft is struck by lightning, read my article by clicking here. … [Read more...]

How Does Hot Weather Cause Turbulence?

As the summer is pretty much upon us now, it is a good time to discuss a certain form of turbulence that will be common over the next few months. Often you will experience turbulence just after take-off and/or before landing despite it being a clear sunny day, with no clouds. So, why? What causes this 'bumpy air'? When the above happens, you are most likely experiencing what is usually called 'convective turbulence'. As shown in the simple diagram on the left, the sun heats the earth's surface  leading to the air at lower altitudes to rise (warm air rises as I'm sure you already knew). As the air rises above a certain level it cools down and begins to fall again. As a result, the air at lower altitudes is moving in different directions … [Read more...]

Volcanic Ash Cloud in UK Airspace: Why Are Flights Being Cancelled?

It appears many people are arriving at this page after searching for news on the current volcanic ash cloud. Therefore, I have set up a mini-site giving all the latest news on the Grimsvotn eruption and you can find it by going to Volcanic Ash Cloud 2011 or typing into your Internet browser. Why is it suddenly safe to fly through volcanic ash? Click here to read more. UK and European flights have been disrupted today due to a volcanic eruption in Iceland yesterday. This is yet another example of the high level of safety in aviation which should be reassuring to those with a fear of flying. So, why has a volcano erupting in Iceland disrupted flights in the UK and beyond? Volcanic ash jams machinery. This … [Read more...]

Flying in Strong Winds

As the UK is currently experiencing the worst storm of the year so far, with winds gusting at 75-90mph I felt it necessary to add a quick (and unplanned) article on the subject of flying in strong winds. As with any bad weather there are strict procedures, and regulations that must be adhered to to ensure that flying remains safe. With regards to wind, the direction is an important factor. With wind blowing down the runway, there is not too much of an effect - except a bumpy take-off and landing. If the wind is blowing ACROSS the runway (known as a crosswind), flights can be delayed or even cancelled. Each aircraft type has a 'crosswind limit' - which is the strength of wind … [Read more...]

Video: Autoland in Fog

Earlier this year I wrote an article on the Fear of Flying in Fog, and more specifically, how an aircraft can land itself using the latest technology. Of course the pilots are still monitoring all systems, and the aircraft must be rated to complete such a landing. Also, all autopilot systems must be in working order or a 'autolanding' is not permitted and the aircraft will be diverted to another airport instead. I thought you may be interested in seeing for your own eyes that this is possible through the magic of video! Watch the video, and continue reading this article below; … [Read more...]

Fear of Flying in Bad Weather: Rain

There are two reasons why I have written this article. Firstly, a reader who completed the fear of flying survey suggested it and secondly, a passenger boarded my aircraft a few weeks ago in torrential rain, and asked me; Have you ever flown in rain like this before? Is it safe? Never before had I thought that rain could cause fear amongst airline passengers. But, it does. The following information should help you to understand why it is nothing to be … [Read more...]

Fear of Flying in Bad Weather: Snow and Ice

Snow and ice can cause havoc for an airline, and we all have our part to play in ensuring the safety of our passengers in these weather conditions. With regards to snow, most airports are well prepared, and manage the situation efficiently whilst minimising delays. There are always a few airports that are not ready for a sudden snowstorm though. This usually results … [Read more...]

Fear of Flying in Bad Weather: Wind

Seems like a good time to write this as I'm sat in my house listening to gale force winds hammer the windows outside! Makes me want to go flying! Strong winds can cause some 'exciting' take-offs and landings. At lower levels, wind can cause the aircraft to sway back and forth, but the pilots are well trained for this. As always, airlines and airports will have wind speed limits. If the wind is too strong they will choose not to land or … [Read more...]

Fear of Flying in Bad Weather: Fog

Driving in thick fog can be extremely hazardous, and of course you must slow down to ensure you remain safe. But, how does fog affect flying. Surely it's impossible to land an aircraft at 150mph in thick fog? Not at all. Firstly, every aircraft has it's own visibility … [Read more...]

Fear of Flying in Bad Weather: Lightning

Welcome to the first of this series of articles discussing a fear of flying in bad weather. First up, thunderstorms - and more specifically, lightning. For my thoughts on the incident involving Flight AF447, go here. Before I discuss aircraft flying in lightening storms, I want you to watch this 30 second video from YouTube. Click play to watch; Ok, welcome back. That was … [Read more...]