Page 40 - Nov/Dec 18 MMOPA
P. 40

your radar beam is hitting the earth as you operate it from the sky.
If on-board radar systems could somehow ignore ground returns, and only return weather related depictions in our path, then your radar display would look much more like a NEXRAD display, and it would be in real-time. Wouldn’t that be awesome?
Using your radar will never be as easy as using NEXRAD. But with knowledge and a little practice, you can learn to be an ace pilot when it comes to your on-board radar.
The 7,000-foot Convective Hotspot
The key to using your radar is simply knowing “what” to look for and “where” to look for it. Your radar beam
is like a flashlight beam, spreading out from the front of your airplane in a cone shape, sweeping left and right. What you are looking for are storms that are brewing.
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Where you need to look is where storms begin and end, and more precisely, you need to know where in the vertical dimension to look.
Convective storms, regardless of what stage they are
in, will nearly always show up between 18,000 feet and 25,000 feet. This is where a thunderstorm’s wind and water are either going up or down, and where the moisture (i.e. large rain drops) is the most reflective from your radar beam’s energy.
If your radar beam can be confidently pointed at the vertical slice of sky in front of you that captures this 7,000- foot hotspot, then you are going to see all you need to see. It really is that easy. If we are flying anywhere below 18,000 feet, then we need to be looking UP for the convective
area above us. If we are flying at or above that level, we need to be looking OUT or DOWN at that same 7,000- foot window. Point your radar beam at this hotspot for convective storms, and you’ll see what you need to see on your radar screen.
Three Zones, Same Plan
I like to think about three unique “radar usage zones:” The LOOK UP zone, the LOOK OUT zone, and the LOOK DOWN zone. Let’s briefly cover each of these in turn. As we do, you can feel free to ignore most of your radar controls except for TILT. The TILT knob should be the only control you need to worry about until you have more experience and confidence in using your radar.
In the LOOK UP zone, we might be taxiing, departing for our destination, or arriving at the end of our trip. In
all cases, we are within a few thousand feet of the ground, and any convective weather dangers are above us. You need to TILT your radar beam up to see the dangers above, the dangers that are waiting to come crashing down on your head. Right after takeoff, start by TILTING your radar as high as it will go, typically +15 degrees, and then slowly adjust the TILT to between +3 or +5 degrees as you

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