For many pilots tackling their uphill challenge in amassing qualifications and licenses, the comprehension of weather tends to be “mystical black magic.” Luckily, pilots no longer have to succumb to the questions regarding a complex low referenced in the archaic written area forecast found in Transport Canada exams. However, meteorology still knocks off many pilots during exams. But it doesn’t stop there, I found over the years, if you want to stifle the conversation with a fellow pilot, tell them you are a certified meteorologist. Usually silence ensues because they know they have been trumped, but a small percentage embrace the chance to ask questions.
We all know Canadians are very chatty when it comes to weather, but for some pilots I found their knowledge base lacking. After all, many students learn weather from their low time instructors who in turn learned from their instructor lacking weather savvy. Don’t get me wrong, some aviation schools have some great weather instructors and it makes it way into the flight deck with sound weather knowledgeable pilots.
I won’t even mention NAV CANADA’s weather site created in 2006 having been left alone ever since. Sure there is some great stuff there, but as far as spreading the aviation weather word, it is lacking. (I will give them full marks for their weather manuals pertaining to local weather across Canada found on their site).
And don’t think the high time pilot knows oodles more. I teach a short refresher course for the airline I fly for and many in the new hire course can’t even state names of low pressure systems. They haven’t heard about the Alberta Clipper wreaking havoc in Winnipeg, or the Nor’easter making its way from Cape Hatteras to dump a foot of snow in the Maritimes or the Colorado low with direct vectors for Toronto. Where have they been when the media made these headline stories? As one fellow pilot confessed to me, “the understanding of weather is like voodoo for me.”
Another reason we are meteorologically challenged in Canada is the rarity of a good weather book. Most tell me they consulted the Air Command Weather Manual during their career, but the book was written over 30 years ago! Though well researched and very detailed, it lacks any reference to forecasts and the interpretation of weather. Another book, Weather Ways, also proved to be an excellent book during its time – some 30 years ago as well. A meteorological void has existed for years as far as understanding aviation weather. And gone are the days where a pilot could walk into a weather office and ask questions. Canadian Aviation Weather was written to fill that meteorological abyss. Knowing weather and interpreting it should not be considered pure magic deemed only for those few in the know. I sure hope my book will rid the elusiveness of aviation weather in Canada.