Next generation weather capabilities are among the best assets available to General Aviation pilots, use them.
I’ve been doing a fair amount of flying around the Midwest and South over the last few weeks and run into a lot of thunderstorms along the way. These are the big storms, tops at 45,000 feet and spanning 80-100 miles in area.
While my fancy airliner has an onboard weather radar that can reliably look out over 100 miles ahead of us, I find myself yearning for nexrad charts and real-time weather pictures. With weather radar I can only see what is directly ahead of me, nothing further down my route, and certainly nothing that may just still be developing. With real-time radar I can see my whole flight route.
Today’s general aviation pilot equipped with XM Weather or other advanced real-time weather information has much more weather data available to them than I do. Nexrad radar pictures, aircraft position information, traffic information, and more are just an app away.
With all of this new technology it is easy to categorize much of it as gee-whiz and not give it a second look. It’s also easy to look at the service’s price tags, whistle, and walk away.
Weather happens fast, be prepared. If you don’t have real-time weather I urge you to look at the options. Some are definitely more affordable than others, but all of them are cheaper than a new airplane or your life.