Discuss the problems and solutions to all of the situations that Pilot X finds himself in.
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By ConcordeBA
Hey All,

I was curious to know if anyone on here has any Thunderstorm stories to tell, and if we could learn from them?

I remember seeing a video on YouTube of a PPL flying in Kent IMC and ending up in an embedded cell, can't find it but it was interesting. So has anyone had any near misses or ended up below or inside a TS?
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By rikur_
In my time as an Engineer I was responsible for our Predictive Windshear retrofit project - and had the pleasure of AlliedSignal taking me on a couple of demonstration flights off the coast of Ft Lauderdale - which basically involved chasing thunderstorms, and flying into the windshear below them. The aircraft was some sort of modified DC3 turboprop.

The test pilot implied every one was 'a close one' ........ but having seen him since on The Discovery Channel, I get the impression he just talks a good game, and it was probably all a bit more controlled than implied at the time.

Not being at the controls, I didn't learn much - other than it was something I'd rather not repeat (presumably that being his intention, as AlliedSignal were trying to sell us a few £m of radar upgrades for that very purpose)
ConcordeBA liked this
I remember 5 circuits on 03 at Popham on a very nice blue sky low pressure day with a light Northerly wind and on the 4th approach the trees on final noticeably speeded up beneath us. Quick glance at asi, normal approach speed. Warned the student that we would probably be going around and why, but as a learning point continued approach, and of course we had to go around, (not enough runway)- great learning exercise.
From the crosswind we could see a well developed isolated dirty towering Cu trying to be a thunderstorm about fifteen miles away on the extended approach. .
ConcordeBA liked this
One that I can well recall, I was learning the dark art of a decent landing in a Shadow. Instructor in the back beating my ears at my last clumsy attempt. On the downwind I was consentrating hard on position and speed, this next one was gonna be a good 'un. There was a big black cloud but that was miles away and downwind, so by the time I turned base little else in the world existed but the runway.

Final, and it was looking good very good and I was concentrating hard, this one was going to be great. We slid over the airfield boundary and the picture was spot on, speed exact, I knew this would be good. Over the threshold, beautiful, everything just right and I rounded out. That was when things went a bit weird. We didn't come down, there we were inches up, nose nicely high and it felt as if we were surfing. I was gobsmacked and the god like voice from the back said " I've got her" and we descended the last little bit and continued along the runway at a fair lick. We started to slow to something more conventional and then the was a thunderous sound, most of our vision went as the rain came down in torrents.

That was when I learnt that thunder storms don't drift along with the wind like civilised storms. They can make their own systems and they can expand at a scary rate.

Funnily enough I have given them a very wide berth since then.
ConcordeBA, gonzohop liked this
By johnm
I have flown through a cluster of big CBs, the world was all black and fluffy with occasional glimpses of the ground. We kicked out the autopilot and flew at turbulence penetration speed with attitude held and watched the VSI flick from up 1000ft a minute to down 1000ft a minute and back again two or three times before we popped out at the back of the cluster. Not an experience I'd seek to repeat.
ConcordeBA, Pete L liked this
Keef and I had just been checked out for IFR and had the Big Bear checkout in a clapped out Arrow we were about to rent from Brackett Field LA for two weeks west coast touring. (remember N455, Ice?)

It was a pretty cloudy day so we decided to celebrate by flying IFR to Santa Barbara for a seafood lunch by the beach. He flew out, I flew back.

After lunch on the way back IFR it was pretty lumpy and suddenly half way back it went suddenly black as if someone had turned the light out, followed immediately by a blinding flash and a simultaneous clap of thunder. It tipped us into a 90deg bank and we dropped about 1000ft before I gingerly levelled off , fortunately at the same time as we popped out the bottom of the cloud.

We high tailed it back to Brackett low level VFR.

My one and only encounter with embedded CBs 17.04.04

We soon recovered after a change of underwear and a few beers. :wink:

ConcordeBA liked this
A few years ago travelling north along the Trent approaching the Humber the sky got very dark around and there were a few lightning forks left and right of us. Hard to say how close or distant, probably a few miles either side but it was an anxious time. If hit would all the glue joints in the plane blow apart? Don't know. Don't want to find out empirically.
ConcordeBA liked this
Many years ago I was doing my CPL from Compton Abbas with Alec Blythe and I was sent off, with another instructor to do some NDB tracking, the Yeovil one I think, under the hood in an ancient Cessna 150 and the instructor got me to line up ready for departure with a huge graphite grey build up ahead.
Alec came on the radio and said we should just hang on a while until the squall had passed. Several ferocious minutes passed as the little plane was rocked by the strong downdraughts and then we were pummelled by the hailstones.
We waited until it all went quiet and the instructor said "ok, let's go". Off we went and climbed straight ahead to acquire and identify the NDB and I was horrified to see that a huge wedge of ice had accreted on the windscreen covering the middle section. We continued into clear air and it slowly disappeared whilst I tried to concentrate on tracking the NDB. I have never, since, experienced the likes of that memorable incursion into the vicinity of a TS mainly because I have learned to not go anywhere near those deadly conditions.
I flew with a friend in his P28A Challenger to Aarhus in Denmark. On the way back, we were cruising at FL65 tuned to FIS; they were advising everyone about thunderstorms over Oldenburg (about 40km west of Bremen and around 30km west of our track). My first recommendation to my friend was to turn south to Hannover and give the area a wide berth but that would have added maybe 15 minutes to the trip so my friend said "no, in any case, those storms are 30km away". He was PIC so I acquiesced, even though my personal rule is no closer to TS than 20 nautical miles.

In order to get more information of the weather, I tuned to Bremen ATIS to hear them announce 'thunderstorms in the vicinity, overcast at 5000 feet'. In light of this, I suggested we sink to 4500 feet to stay below the crud but as this would mean entering CAS, I also recommended we call Bremen to transit their controlled airspace.

We receive clearance "on current track, at 4500 feet". At my 3 o clock I saw some ominous, dark and fast moving clouds racing towards us and I suggest my friend that he asks permission to deviate. However he hadn't seen them, just asked 'what for'? I pointed out the black approaching mass but just as I tried to explain what it was, it overtook us, everything suddenly went dark, the plane was shaking, the aircraft reverberated with the sound of rain hammering on the windscreen and fuselage. The plane was swinging wildly left and right, the altimeter was now unwinding, my friend starts to wrestle with the plane, trying to regain the cleared altitude and track.

I told him to take his hands off the yoke, the plane would stabilise itself and called Bremen Radar to advise why we were unable to maintain the cleared altitude / track. The answer was 'I thought as much' with a sly chuckle....

After about 20 - 30 seconds the worst of it passed, we were able to regain our track / altitude. Since then, when I fly with that particular friend he tends to agree with my proposals with regards distance from weather.....
kanga, ConcordeBA, gonzohop liked this
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By ConcordeBA
Some very good stories. I've never had any major personal experiences, except during training. I flew a local nav flight after a front passed through, as I came around back to Biggin a cell had appeared out of nowhere and was producing a lot of hail and lightning. As it moved towards Sevenoaks I turned final for 03 but couldn't loose the height and even tried full flaps and was still climbing. As I got instructed to go-around and was in a weird position, the stall warn popped up and airspeed dropped to below 55knots. Pushed forward as much as I could, reduced flap and flew back for an uneventful landing.

Instructor asked me if I enjoyed that flight, I said no. He said good, you won't fly in those conditions again. Lesson learned.

I've spoke to a former jumbo captain who ended up inside the middle of a thunderstorm, power off, max weight and climbing 500fpm but apparently it was as calm as anything.