Should I get a weather briefing?

So, there I was on this little survey job flying a Long Ranger all over the Western States. The job ran long due to constant weather issues (since their corporate department decided the spring would be a good idea to go surveying in the Pacific Northwest with delicate equipment that won’t work in the rain) and everybody was under pressure to get the job done. We were stuck once again with several bands of snow moving in and the weather blocking a mountain pass we had to climb over to get to the next location. You can see the snow would be coming in bands on the weather charts and the briefer at the flight service station confirmed my suspicions as well. But after already several days of waiting the customer somehow started to feel that I wouldn’t want to go fly for some reason. It was weird to me because I just love being stuck in a hotel away from home and not fly (insert sarcasm font).

So, every time the weather cleared for just a second and the sun started to come through the phone rang and they said they wanted to try to fly. I told them there will be more snow coming but got tired of them implying I just don’t want to go. So after a few days I said “nothing changed but let’s try it” since I wasn’t doing anything else all day anyways. It cleared up, we packed up, drove to the airport, pushed the aircraft out of the hangar got ready to take off, and promptly got snowed on. The equipment they had wouldn’t work in the snow, so it was a no-go. So at this point we secured everything again, pushed the aircraft back in the hangar, and went back to the hotel. We must have done this 3 times that day until they caught on to the fact that when the pilot says today is not a good day, it means “it’s not a good day” and not “I rather sit alone in my hotel room than go fly”. And some time shortly after telling this story to Stefan this strip was conceived …

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2 comments on “Should I get a weather briefing?
  1. Pete Zaitcev says:

    Phone instead of, really? Look, I’m old enough to remember the times when the meteorologist at FSS had domain-specific and even locale-specific knowledge and experience that was helpful. But in the recent years I was hitting briefers that merely read off the screen what I can read. Why even bother?

  2. Captain Dunsel says:

    I’m a retired USAF weather officer; I briefed many an aircrew on all sorts of missions between the 70’s and 90’s. We also were supposed to follow centralized forecasts, but we were also expected to use our knowledge to adjust the forecast to local conditions, etc.

    When I looked at going to work for the FAA as an FSS briefer (after retirement), I was floored when I learned that briefers were not allowed to deviate from the forecasts put out by central offices. So, that was the end of that concept — I wound up being a teacher and computer tech, instead!

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