ATIS and AWOS
Weather is one of the most important parts of flight planning. At first, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense why pilots would care about things like the temperature, dew point, cloud ceiling, etc. Let’s start off with temperature. The outside temperature doesn’t affect the aircraft as much as you would think. However, ice, frost, and density altitude do play a very important part in how an aircraft performs. As you can probably guess, it is not smart to fly with snow, ice, or frost on the aircraft, as the wings won’t produce as much lift, and many instruments just won’t work accurately. Also, a dead engine over the Alaskan Bush or Lake Superior usually doesn’t make for a happy flight (such as a Civil Air Patrol or Coast Guard search). Summer usually has fairer weather, but summer storms can make for very, very bumpy rides. And about density altitude: This name makes little sense, for the higher the density altitude, the less dense the air is. This could better be explained as performance altitude. (As I’m not yet a private pilot, I don’t know a ton on that, but I’m sure that John and Martha King would be happy to sell you a private pilot course.) Now, let’s get to ATIS and AWOS.
ATIS (Automatic Terminal Information Service) is usually found at reasonably large airports with lots of controllers. The controller will record a tape of the last weather update, and put a letter with it. For those of you who don’t speak the Air Traffic Control language, here is the list of letters:
Now, let’s look at what this report for Montgomery Field in San Diego means.
Montgomery airport information Hotel, 2159 Zulu. Wind: 238 at 8. Visibility: greater than 20 miles. Sky condition: few clouds at 5,800. Temperature: 18. Dew point: 10. Altimeter 2990. Visual runway 28R and Visual runway 28L in use. Landing and departing runway 28R and runway 28L. VFR aircraft say direction of flight. All aircraft read back hold short instruction. Advise controller on initial contact you have Hotel.
In other words, this is:
Montgomery airport information Hotel, 1: 59 PM Pacific Standard Time. Wind: coming from 238 degrees at 8 miles per hour. Sky condition: few clouds at 5,800 feet. Temperature: 18 degrees Celsius. Dew point: 10 degrees Celsius. Set your altimeter to 29.90 inches of barometric pressure so it will tell you your correct altitude. IFR is using the Visual approach to runway 28 right and runway 28 left. VFR aircraft tell the controller your position, altitude, and intentions. All aircraft acknowledge the hold short of runway instruction. Tell the controller on your first transmission that you have Information Hotel.
For the fun of it, let’s look at this rather unlikely ATIS report for Ronald Reagan/ Washington National airport in DC.
Washington airport Information Charlie, 1256 Zulu. Wind: 012 at 23 gusts at 28. Visibility: 3 miles in snow. Sky condition: ceiling 300 overcast. Temperature: -8. Dew point: -9. Altimeter 2950. ILS runway 1 in use. Landing and departing runway 1. All aircraft read back hold short instructions. Advise controller on initial contact you have Charlie.
Washington airport Information Charlie, 7:59 AM Eastern Standard Time. Wind: coming from 12 degrees at 23 miles per hour with gusts up to 28 miles per hour. Sky condition: ceiling 300 feet overcast. Temperature: -8 degrees Celsius. Dew point: -9 degrees Celsius. Altimeters should be set to 29.50 inches of barometric pressure. IFR is using the ILS approach to runway 1. Landing and departing runway 1. The airport is currently below VFR minimums. All aircraft read back the instruction to hold short of the runway. Tell the controller on your first radio transmission that you have Charlie.
As you can see, there’s a lot to it, but that’s important. However, you get the hang of it pretty quickly.
For an AWOS (Automated Weather Observing System) report, you’ll hear a computer voice give you the report. Here’s one for Sedona, Arizona.
Kilo Sierra Echo Zulu Automated Weather Observation, 1359 Zulu. Wind: calm. Visibility: greater than 20 miles. Sky condition: Clear… Temperature: 20 Celsius. Dew point: 8 Celsius. Altimeter: 2992.
Now that’s about the best weather that you could hope for. As you can see, the AWOS is pretty self-explanatory.
I hope that you’ve enjoyed reading this!
Keep the pointy side forward, the dirty side down, and by all means, please… stay out of the trees!
Have a great day!
(And yes, King Schools does use Montgomery Field, and yes, the Kings did use Sedona for one of the courses. And I would greatly recommend flight training through King Schools over Sporty’s.)
Hello, aircraft fans!
In this edition of the Plane Crash, we’ll look at the U.S. Navy’s WW2 top three: the Grumman F6f Hellcat, the Vought F-4U Corsair, and the Grumman F4f Wildcat.
Wildcat: Before the greatness of aircraft like the Grumman Hellcat and Vought Corsair, the Grumman F4f Wildcat was a fine aircraft. First built in 1939, this rugged mid-wing 318-mph six machine-gun aircraft held a critical point in the U.S. Navy until better aircraft were supplied. For instance, Lieutenant Butch O’Hare destroyed five Japanese bombers in six minutes. Later, despite being shot down in the Pacific, the Chicago-O’Hare airport was named for him. The Wildcat had a crew of 1, one 895kW (1200hp) Pratt & Whitney R-1830-66 radial engine, a maximum speed of 512km/h(318mph), a range of 1239km (770 miles), and a service ceiling of 10,638m (34,900ft).
Dimensions are as follows: Wingspan: 11.58m (38ft.). Length: 8.76m (28ft. 9in.). Height: 3.61m (11ft. 10in.).
Armament: Six 12.77mm (0.50in.) machine guns in wings and an external bomb load of 91kg (200lb.). Total loaded weight was 3607 kg (7952lb.).
Hellcat: The Hellcat flew for the first time on June 26, 1942. Many of its war abilities had been learned from its predecessor, the Wildcat. Specifications for this war-changing plane are as follows:
Powerplant: one 1492 kW (2000hp) Pratt & Whitney R-2800-10W radial engine.
Performance: Maximum speed: 612 km/h (380mph). Range: 1521km (945 miles). Service ceiling: 11,369m (37,300ft.).
Dimensions: Wingspan: 13.05m (42ft10in.). Length: 10.24m(33ft.7in.). Height: 3.99m (13ft.1in.).
Armament: six 12.7mm(0.50ibn.) machine guns in wings, or two 20mm(0.79in.) cannon and four 12.7mm(0.50in) machine guns, provision for two 453kg (1000lb) bombs or six 12.7cm (5in) RPs.
Weight: 7025kg (15,487lb).
In all, the Grumman F6f ran up a 19 to 1 kill ratio.
And now: the Chance Vought F4U Corsair. The speed, strength, and firepower of the Corsair enabled it to dominate Japanese opposition, shooting down 2140 against a loss of 189. Its performance and dependability allowed great flight leaders like John Blackburn, John Smith, Marion Carl, Joe Foss, and Pappy Boyington to create legendary fighter squadrons. It was truly a superior aircraft.
Have a great day!
Hello, aircraft fans!
In this edition of the Plane View, we’ll take a look at the long line of Grumman aircraft. From the ’31 FF-1 to the EA-6, we will see how Grumman has one of the longest lines, and also is one of the best.
And now: The Grumman FF-1. The FF-1 was a Golden Age aircraft, and still served in the Spanish Civil War on the Republican side. It had a crew of one, a 709kW(950hp) Wright R-1820-22 Cyclone 9-cylinder radial engine, a maximum speed of 418km/h(260mph), a range of 1819km(1130 miles), a service ceiling of 9845m(32,300ft), as well as a wingspan of 9.75m(32ft.), a length of 7.01m(23ft), and a height of 2.84m(9ft.4in.). The weight was2155kg(4750lb) loaded; an armament of one 12.7mm(0.50in) and one 7.62mm(0.30in) machine gun in upper forward fuselage, as well as an external bomb load of 105kg(232lb.).
The Grumman G-12 Goose was a high-winged, amphibious aircraft with retractable landing gear, as well as a crew of 2, and a variable payload, changing depending on whether passengers or freight was being carried. A few are still in service today, as they are a grand old plane, first built in 1937.
Although the greatness of aircraft like the Grumman Hellcat and Vought Corsair, the Grumman F4f Wildcat was a fine aircraft. First built in 1939, this rugged mid-wing 318-mph six machine-gun aircraft held a critical point in the U.S. Navy until better aircraft were supplied. For instance, Lieutenant Butch O’Hare destroyed five Japanese bombers in six minutes. Later, despite being shot down in the Pacific, the Chicago-O’Hare airport was named for him.
The Grumman TBF Avenger was an effective dive-bomber, being second only to the Douglas SBD Dauntless. On the fighter side, the Grumman F6f Hellcat, which won the war in the Pacific, the F7f Tigercat, and the F8f all proved to be at least worthy aircraft.
Search and Rescue: The SA-16 Albatross of ‘47 and the S-2 of ’52 both were excellent, the SA-16 being S&R and the S-2 being submarine-killer. But the E-2 of ’60 surpassed both, in the way of searching for enemy aircraft.
Back to fighters: the F9f, F11f, and F-14 all proved to be sufficient for their time. The F-14 Tomcat had more than 30 years of service, but has now been replaced by the Boeing/McDonnell Douglas F-18 Hornet.
Lastly: the Grumman A-6 Intruder and EA-6 Prowler are the best attack-radar jamming aircraft ever. The current Prowler is greatly needed, as skies are again becoming hostile (get ready for World War III!
Hope you enjoyed this post.
Have a great day!
Classic Aircraft Trivia
Hello, aircraft fans!
In this edition of the Plane View, we’ll do something a bit different this time. Instead of me writing about one or more aircraft, it’s sort of a trivia game on aircraft. The rules are as follows, anyone who breaks them will lose… or something like that. CHEATING IS STRICTLY PROHIBITED, as according to the Backyard Football Sudden Death Overtime Rules. Please send me your results via a “comment” box.
1. Who bought out Northwest Airlines?
A: Delta B: Alaska C: United
2. What airline is based out of Denver?
A: Delta B: Alaska C: Frontier
3: What is Air Force One?
A: the President’s plane B: the code for the president’s plane C: a Golfstream aircraft
4: What does the president fly in from the White House to Andrews Air Force Base?
A: Marine One B: Air Force One C: a North American P-51 Mustang D: a hang glider
5: When is the president’s aircraft officially Air Force One?
A: all the time B: as soon as the president goes on board C: when it is airborne
BONUS QUESTION!: Who shot down the Red Baron?
A: Eddie Rickenbacker B: Roy Brown C: Wop May D: Richard Bong
Have a great day!