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Your training should include enough meteorology that you will be able to judge for yourself whether conditions are suitable for you to fly.

The simple rule is if you're not sure that conditions are good and will remain so for the duration of your flight, you don't fly.

Until you have sufficient knowledge, it is your instructors responsibility to ensure that you are not flying in unsuitable conditions. In the early stages of learning, it is best that you fly in calm, stable conditions so that you can concentrate on basic control.

I have flown about 10 hours since passing BHPA Club Pilot. I have flown in mildly thermic conditions, which can be a something of a roller coaster ride and unnerving for a novice.

As you gain experience, you will be able to tackle more challenging conditions and that will open up more opportunities to fly.

Flying in conditions which are marginal for your ability will detract from your concentration on some of the more basic stuff, like looking out for other aircraft, watching the weather, navigation etc.

We all progress at different rates. I still consider myself a novice and prefer to fly in calm conditions until I am confident that my control, observation and navigation are second nature.

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I can not tell you about Spain but I can tell you about Brazil. When your talking about thermals there is tons of variables so you need to take care and learn more about them (learning weather and general flying environment is one of the best things a pilot can do).

Two high level things affecting thermals and intensity

1. Time of year (sun intensity)

2. Weather (level of instability)

There are others but just to keep it simple (grab a book or Google). Keep in mind max sun intensity normally happens between 12-3pm

An example;

So here in Brazil say your out for a fly on the beach and it's mid summer and you turn inland and start heading for the mountains.

Once away from the beach you will notice clouds starting to form in front of you around 2-3k in. They will not form beside the beach due to the sea breeze cooling the land and breaking up the thermals building process. But before you reach them you will already be in fear do to the poorly formed (broken) thermals that are hitting you. They are sharp and really moving fast thus hitting your wing hard 3-8m/s.

Say this has not made you turn back yet and you continue on. You will now start to hit some better and bigger formed thermals (still generally a mess) moving at 3-5m/s. If you keep going you will then start hitting the land that has been heated all day and experience large fast moving turbulent thermals 6-10m/s (keep in mind 10m/s is 36km/h up).

With thermals you need to understand its a moving mass and when a mass of anything moves the location it once occupied must be filled buy something else. So as the thermal rips up at 8m/s and the air on its outer edge is moving down at 8m/s or so trying to fill the void ( this is called shear, you will read about this). Shear is a horrible thing I'm sure all the guys here have a stories or two about shear and I don't really care to make more.

Also ever see a twister? This is caused by a large thermal moving up really fast and the air is coming in under the thermal as fast as it can to replace the missing mass of air thus causing a twister (this is why you should never fly low inland during times of heavy thermal creation) . This is but one reason if your going to travel inland you gain altitude of 1k meters at least first lol (things are allot calmer the higher you are up (I will not go into detail why). Unless you connect with a thermal and it takes you through the convergence laver (but I will not go into this) scary ride!

Pick up a book and read a ton about the environment you fly in but can not see! Oh and just because it's blue does not mean the above is not happening.

There is a time and a place to fly anywhere you want (in most cases) You need to learn the time and the place.

Hope this helps a little


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Ok I understand and thanks for the good advice but my original question was....would it be safe to fly in cold weather with a clear blue sky and calm winds at this time of year in Scotland?

I am a newbie and to be honest I don't mind being bumped around a little. In fact I quite enjoy the ride.as long as I don't drop and hit the ground before I'm ready to land ;)

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I don't think anyone will give you an answer to that question.

It would need someone to be stood there, feeling the wind speed and looking at any changes that may be happening.

My advice would be to fly with someone with more experience for your first few solo flights away from the school environment.

I actually think that Meteorology is a subject that you never stop learning but it is essentual to have the basics taught to you.


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This question has caught my interest. Simon can you or anyone recommend a good book that covers all the basic knowledge with regards to choosing the window for flying. I myself have received what I believe to be the basics and have enjoyed flying as a result of that knowledge. But from time to time I believe my knowledge is lacking and would like to remind myself/ learn more.

As I find sometimes I am not confident in making a decision and so don't fly often when others with greater knowledge have enjoyed smooth flights.

Either way I like a good read.

Cheers Lee.

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This is a good book to read after having had the basic training offered in most aviation training.

I am currently doing my Helicopter theory and the Met exam is not that far from the Microlight one we have recently completed.!

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Pilots-Weather- ... 1840370270

There are LOADS of courses you can attend at the Met Office should you so desire. :-)

I think the most important thing about understanding the weather, is to enjoy the process of learning and understanding it.

I am still learning, I think its fair to say that everyone is even the Met office in fact :- )


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This has also caught my attention as I'm in a similar situation, have the basics to fly, but not the experience or access to experience on a regular basis.

I've ordered the book Simon has suggested, look forward to reading that as it does seem to concentrate on a light aircrafts view of the weather.

As a beginner my self imposed rules are;

1) If in any doubt, don't.

2) If I do then always mentally prepare to land away from my take off field or get back on the ground asap if I get out of my comfort zone.

It probably means I don't fly as much as others but I can cope with that.

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Simon is right

my apologizes I missed the "cold" part in your note. That will change things for sure to a degree.


"I actually think that Meteorology is a subject that you never stop learning but it is essentual to have the basics taught to you. "

I agree it's an area where if you have the interest you can learn something new every flight.

And just when your think you understand whats going on something new and unexpected happens.

Here is a book I picked up way back, But still bring it with me from time to time and try to understand what is going on up there.

Its a dry read like most.

"Understanding the Sky by Dennis Pagen"

is a paragliding pilots' must read to understand the invisible medium that allows free flight. Paramount for paragliding safety to decide when to fly or not and also for performance to understand sources of lift. Essential reading for P1 beginner to P4 advanced paraglider pilots. Recommended companion book for our

When I first pick this up I carried it with me and tried to understand the day and then predict what was coming in the next two days. You can actually get quite good at this.

It amazes me the number of people that fly and know 0 about what they are flying in.



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