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Sun, Mar 12, 2006

ANN's Daily Aero-Tips (03.12.06): Pilot's Windshear Guide

Aero-Tips!

A good pilot is always learning -- how many times have you heard this old standard throughout your flying career? There is no truer statement in all of flying (well, with the possible exception of "there are no old, bold pilots.") It's part of what makes aviation so exciting for all of us... just when you think you've seen it all, along comes a scenario you've never imagined.

Aero-News has called upon the expertise of Thomas P. Turner, master CFI and all-around-good-guy, to bring our readers -- and us -- daily tips to improve our skills as aviators, and as representatives of the flying community. Some of them, you may have heard before... but for each of us, there will also be something we might never have considered before, or something that didn't "stick" the way it should have the first time we memorized it for the practical test.

It is our unabashed goal that "Aero-Tips" will help our readers become better, safer pilots -- as well as introducing our ground-bound readers to the concepts and principles that keep those strange aluminum-and-composite contraptions in the air... and allow them to soar magnificently through it.

Look for our daily Aero-Tips segments, coming each day to you through the Aero-News Network. Suggestions for future Aero-Tips are always welcome, as are additions or discussion of each day's tips. Remember... when it comes to being good pilots, we're all in this together.

Aero-Tips 03.12.06

It’s an oldie-but-goodie... FAA Advisory Circular (AC) 00-54, the Pilot’s Windshear Guide.

Wind shear is any rapid change in wind speed or direction over a short horizontal or vertical distance. Wind shear quickly changes airflow patterns over wings and tail surfaces, and can therefore alter, albeit briefly, the flying capability of an airplane.

About a decade ago a family loaded its A36 Bonanza for a ski weekend. Heavy storms pushed toward the departure airport from the northwest; the pilot thought he’d take off, head due south, then turn west behind the squall. Ahead of the storm a 30-knot wind blew from the south, but as the Bonanza lifted off the runway the front hit, blasting the airplane with a 60-knot gust from behind. The Bonanza stalled and crashed before it could stabilize in the new air mass and resume flying.  This is what AC 00-54 calls a “Decreasing Headwind Shear” -- defined as “windshear in which headwind decreases causing an airspeed loss.”

One in three windshear events occurs near thunderstorms.

Aero-tip of the day: Don’t let the 1988 publication date or the Smith Corona type style fool you -- there’s a lot of great information in AC 00-54, including wind shear avoidance, recognition, and recovery techniques.

FMI: Aero-Tips

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