Online Community of Zenith Builders and Flyers
Today’s pilot has powerful weather tools to help fly safely and sometimes more efficiently. Now if your only going up for a few minutes perhaps it is good enough to just look up and decide if the weather is ok to fly. If you’re planning to be out for a while, a little research before leaving can cut your fuel costs and perhaps make the trip more interesting. If you're planning a multi-day trip, learning what the weather is expected to be and keeping an eye on the weather during the trip is a must.
I use a variety of tools depending on what type of flight I am taking. I always use the NOAA Graphical Forecast no mater what type of flight I am taking. It is exceptionally easy to use. It’s great for checking today’s “local” weather or examining the expected weather over a multi-day cross country adventure.
I also like Runway Finder. You can check official aviation charts, Goggle terrain, Google Satellite, Goggle road maps, airport weather, terminal area forecasts, and airport information. A simple route planer is also included for checking distances. It also has links to AirNav for additional airport info including fuel info.
For detailed winds aloft data, it’s hard to beat Flight Path Tool. Once you learn how to use it, this is the tool that may let you beat the wind.
Last weekend I flew several hundred miles south then back north again. I used flight path tool and noticed that the wind was blowing to the south at all altitudes. By climbing up high where the wind was strong I was able to fly south with a 50 MPH tail wind. This gave an average ground speed of 148 MPH with an average RPM of only 2,665. On the way home I stayed down on the deck and suffered only a 10 to 15 MPH headwind.
Today’s flight was quite interesting. I flew in a large circle for nearly 5 hours. I covered 467 miles and had a good tailwind most of the day. I got 25.9 statute miles per gallon while averaging 99.3 MPH. Average RPM was 2,280.
“Flew in a large circle and had a tailwind most of the day”? How is that possible? This morning I noticed, while using Flight Path Tool, that the winds below 6,000 feet in north/central California were depicted as rotating in a large counter clockwise circle. I simply flew the circle and sure enough, that is what I found.
And now for some pictures.
Here is the big circle I flew today
I flew over Travis AFB
New Bullards Bar Dam
Here is the fateful sight of my off-field landing a few weeks ago. Yes I did land at the first available spot and yes, I was out of time (oil pressure) when I picked it
And finally I spotted this little lost 750 up in the clouds just south of Cloverdale. The guy sure looks familiar.