On bad weather

From:         rdd@cactus.org (Robert Dorsett)
Date:         13 Oct 93 11:50:57 PDT
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"The technical world of our day has put a lot of impressive equipment
on airplanes to combat weather and make flying the rough stuff
easier; good radio and navigation gear, deicers and anti-icers,
radar, Stormscope, auto flight systems that take us to zero-zero,
instrument systems to help us fly shear, performance, range, antiskid
for braking, reversers, systems to keep windshields clear, flight
directors to think for us on ILS approaches, instruments like HSIs
that pictorialize, flight management computers, and glass cockpits
that think, at least to an automaton's capability.  There is more

"But first, let us clearly and forcefully remember that all this
equipment will not fly all the weather.  Mother Nature will
periodically dish out weather we simply cannot manage.

"The equipment and smoothness of aircraft, the quiet shirt-sleeve
environment, gives a false sense of security, a sense that we can
handle anything.  How very treacherous this impression is.

"We've gained much; ability to land with no visiblity--if the airport
is equipped and the airplane, too, we can top much of the weather we
once bounced in and worried about because of its ice.  There's a long
list, but no matter how superbly equipped an aircraft is, the inside
of a thunderstorm is still awesome, and severe sherar on
landing--instruments or no--can do the airplane in.  Running low on
fuel for many reasons can menace flight.  Landing in a hurricane can
too-there's a long list and trying to say we've reached the age of
"all weather" is akin to the folks who said the Titanic was

"With our equipment has come the need for the flight crew--pilot--to
use it properly; program computers with the correct numbers, keep
close watch that all is working as desired and the aircraft is headed
in the right direction.  This doesn't come easily because the
sleekness of the airplane and its near perfection lull one into the
feeling that nothing can be wrong.  Here's where that overused but
potent word, compacency, reaches its peak.  The real fact is that our
modern aircraft require more attention, not less, plus plenty of that
old-time pilot's belief that things can and will go wrong and you'd
better have a skeptical eye roving the cockpit and weather on a
regular basis."

	-- From "Weather Flying," 3rd edition, by Robert N. Buck, 
	Macmillan: New York, 1988, ISBN 0-02-518021-5.  Pp. 302-303.