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Weather Theory

Methods by Which Air Reaches the Saturation Point (Part One) Dew and Frost

Weather Theory

If air reaches the saturation point while temperature and dew point are close together, it is highly likely that fog, low clouds, and precipitation will form. There are four methods by which air can reach the complete saturation point. First, when warm air moves over a cold surface, the air temperature drops and reaches the […]

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Temperature/Dew Point Relationship

Weather Theory

The relationship between dew point and temperature defines the concept of relative humidity. The dew point, given in degrees, is the temperature at which the air can hold no more moisture. When the temperature of the air is reduced to the dew point, the air is completely saturated and moisture begins to condense out of […]

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Moisture and Temperature

Weather Theory

Moisture and Temperature The atmosphere, by nature, contains moisture in the form of water vapor. The amount of moisture present in the atmosphere is dependent upon the temperature of the air. Every 20 °F increase in temperature doubles the amount of moisture the air can hold. Conversely, a decrease of 20 °F cuts the capacity […]

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Inversion

Weather Theory

As air rises and expands in the atmosphere, the temperature decreases. There is an atmospheric anomaly that can occur; however, that changes this typical pattern of atmospheric behavior. When the temperature of the air rises with altitude, a temperature inversion exists. Inversion layers are commonly shallow layers of smooth, stable air close to the ground. […]

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Atmospheric Stability

Weather Theory

The stability of the atmosphere depends on its ability to resist vertical motion. A stable atmosphere makes vertical movement difficult, and small vertical disturbances dampen out and disappear. In an unstable atmosphere, small vertical air movements tend to become larger, resulting in turbulent airflow and convective activity. Instability can lead to significant turbulence, extensive vertical […]

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Wind and Pressure Representation on Surface Weather Maps

Weather Theory

Surface weather maps provide information about fronts, areas of high and low pressure, and surface winds and pressures for each station. This type of weather map allows pilots to see the locations of fronts and pressure systems, but more importantly, it depicts the wind and pressure at the surface for each location. Wind conditions are reported […]

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Low-Level Wind Shear

Weather Theory

Wind shear is a sudden, drastic change in wind speed and/or direction over a very small area. Wind shear can subject an aircraft to violent updrafts and downdrafts, as well as abrupt changes to the horizontal movement of the aircraft. While wind shear can occur at any altitude, low-level wind shear is especially hazardous due […]

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Effect of Obstructions on Wind

Weather Theory

Another atmospheric hazard exists that can create problems for pilots. Obstructions on the ground affect the flow of wind and can be an unseen danger. Ground topography and large buildings can break up the flow of the wind and create wind gusts that change rapidly in direction and speed. These obstructions range from manmade structures […]

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Convective Currents

Weather Theory

Different surfaces radiate heat in varying amounts. Plowed ground, rocks, sand, and barren land give off a large amount of heat; water, trees, and other areas of vegetation tend to absorb and retain heat. The resulting uneven heating of the air creates small areas of local circulation called convective currents. Convective currents cause the bumpy, […]

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