Page 43 - Nov/Dec 18 MMOPA
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to be able to identify storms and avoid them. NEXRAD is a great tool that gives you a big picture view of area weather systems, but it should never be used to tactically maneuver around storm cells. That’s where you radar system
really shines.
While you are flying in and around weather, switch
back and forth between your NEXRAD display and
your radar display. Adjust your TILT up or down until your radar display maps visually to what your NEXRAD display is indicating. Once you have “mapped” these two views of the weather in front of you, rely mainly on your radar display for all short-range tactical heading changes. Use ATC as a third source of information to make sure what you see on your radar is an accurate depiction of the dangers in front of you.
Always avoid any red and magenta radar returns that look like storms, especially if you are in IMC conditions. Unless you can see a clear outline of a storm through the windshield and know with absolute confidence that you can fly over it, trust your radar screen and fly around the red and magenta returns by at least 20 miles.
Practice on clear days finding and identifying your ground returns. Practice “painting storms” when you fly by them, even if they aren’t in your path. Practice over water, finding islands and shorelines. Practice, practice, and then practice some more.
It should be noted that the TILT angle guidelines contained in this article are just that, guidelines. You should practice until you find the TILT positions that work best for your installation. Your dish size, radome condition, avionics and radar manufacturers, and specific airframe installation can all affect the radar returns you see at different TILT angles in your airplane. The general strategy, however, of looking UP, OUT, and DOWN for weather in the CONVECTICE HOTSPOT vertical region will hold true in all cases.
If you made it this far in the article, then I hope you are excited to take your newfound knowledge with you on your next flight. We have only scratched the surface and there is so much more to learn. We didn’t cover dish size (10-inch, 12-inch, or 24-inch) and the corresponding beam-angle size (10 degrees, 8 degrees, 4 degrees, etc.), and we didn’t talk about GAIN, GRND MAP mode,
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