Hot Air Balloon Flying Weather

Well, this past weekend was a bust for us for being able to do a flight because of weather conditions. I did notice though, that one of the younger local balloon pilots did choose to fly on Saturday morning between rain showers. We canceled our Saturday morning passenger flight due to a forecast of rain showers in the flight area around flight-time and the wet conditions from rain, plus a potential of limited visibility in fog. The day started with one area of rain departing to the east, and another approaching from the west. The morning aviation forecast advertised rain showers to be in the vicinity during flight-time. The morning forecast discussion (a discussion between meteorologists from different NWS offices on their interpretation of computer forecast modeling data and observed weather at the forecast station location-or how they arrived at their official station forecast) posted at 4:30 AM by the National Weather Service in Albany spoke of an approaching area of heavy rain with potential thunder just to the west, a temporary clearing  between the departing and approaching areas of rain but also a possibility of limited visibility in fog due to wet ground conditions from rain. Back in the day, we called flying windows like these sucker holes, and accidents waiting to happen. With today’s improved forecasting due to satellites and computer modeling, plus the availability of real time data from the Internet, it’s still up to the pilot to make an informed decision whether to fly or not, and how much of a chance they want to take based on their personal knowledge and experience level. We have seen in the news recently how knowledge and experience can be a factor in flight decisions made by pilots with the NTSB investigation into the causes of the Continental Commuter crash of Flight 3407 near Buffalo, compared to the successful water landing of US Air Flight 1549 last January. Experience does count!

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