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I never thought before going to flight school that weather would be such a big part of piloting. Even in flight school, I figured that since they train us in instrument flying techniques, bad weather wouldn’t be a huge deal. Now I’m learning that I was naive. The fact of the matter is that pretty much every mission an army pilot does requires visual meteorological conditions.

Monsoon season in Korea isn’t a huge deal for most people. Sure, it’s a bit rainier in the middle of the summer than other times of year, but it’s nothing that really affects daily life. Once you’re past a flood or two in July, you’re alright as long as you can stand the humidity.

As a pilot, that’s not at all the case. We have weather minima required to fly: cloud floors of at least 1200 feet above ground level and two miles of visibility. If you’ve got those, and no thunderstorms predicted en route, you’re good to go.

Despite the seeming leniency in those requirements, so far Green Platoon is running a less than a 50% uptime because of weather. Today we at least had good weather predicted, to much rejoicing. Three hours after that forecast, once we’d preflighted and completed every requirement prior to startup, I went to get the weather update: it’s necessary to have one updated within 90 minutes of takeoff. That requirement is a good thing, because when I went in, they were predicting half a mile of visibility. They were right: I went outside a few minutes ago and could only see the buildings down the street because they’re lit.

There was nothing to do except tie up the aircraft and head back to the briefing room. In theory we were dismissed more or less immediately thereafter, but what actually ended up happening was a Pilot’s Social Hour: four young warrants just out of flight school listening to the war stories of the retired CW4 and CW5. It wasn’t as good as a proper flying day would have been, but it was entertaining, and almost as educational.

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1 Comment

Comment by Rourke Mac OS X Mozilla Firefox 3.0.1 Subscribed to comments via email
2009-08-13 12:59:11

Hmm. War stories?


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