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.")
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. 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.
Look for our daily Aero-Tips segments, coming each day to you
through the Aero-News Network.
The first strong winter storms have already invaded the
continental United States. No matter where you fly, if there's snow
watch out for whiteout conditions.
Whiteout occurs when a person becomes engulfed in a uniformly
white glow resulting from blowing snow, dust, or sand. There are no
shadows, no horizon or clouds and all depth-of-field and
orientation are lost. Flying is not recommended in any whiteout
situation because there is no outside visual reference-needed even
in some phases of instrument flight. The condition has been known
to contribute to airplane mishaps.
Whiteout can happen fast-you plunge into whiteout conditions-but
usually develops more slowly as visibility insidiously drops until
you find yourself without visual reference at all. Helicopter
pilots have to be especially careful as downwash from rotor blades
can kick up fine snow and create a whiteout just as the aircraft
lifts off or begins to touch down.
The Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM)
provides this guidance:
If all visual references is lost,
- Trust the cockpit instruments.
- Execute a 180 degree turnaround and start looking for outside
- Above all -- fly the aircraft.
Aero-tip of the day: Treat potential whiteout
conditions (dry snow, indistinct clouds, reduced visibility) like
any other potential Instrument Meteorological Conditions (IMC)