Friday, July 15, 2005

Economists & Weather Forecasters, part I

What do you get when you put three economists in a room together?

Five forecasts.

I've had days- as I'm sure every pilot has- when I just knew the weather forecast was going to be dead wrong. One in particular still stands out in my mind, even though it happened three years ago.

It was just a standard summer day, if anything, looking a little better than average. Not a cloud in the sky, just a little bit of haze. I had an instrument instruction flight scheduled with a student that frustrated me to no end. Someone else had done all of his primary instruction, and the first half of his intstrument instruction, then I became stuck with him. I don't generally like taking over someone's training halfway through, because I never know what to expect. In his case, whoever had started the instrument training had failed to go through the basics first, and started right in on the cross-country flying. That cheated him of the building blocks necessary for being proficient at everything else involved. On the other side of the coin, he really didn't seem to grasp how far from a rating he was.

I chalked it up to my frustrations with him, as the reason my brain was trying to come up with a reason not to fly that day. I saw multiple forecasts, spoke to a weather briefer, did a little of my own digging, and every single forecast was for clear skies. But my gut instinct was that we would be dealing with nasty weather. Still, I couldn't effectively argue that it was looking bad, so we proceeded.

It was supposed to be a relatively short hop over to Lewisburg, WV. Still, I insisted that we fill the tanks. Based on our previous flight's experiences, I advised him that he needed to be ready for any instrument approach they gave us, rather than whichever one he had in his mind to peform.

When I first got out to the plane, I noticed that he had not filled the tanks, leaving us with barely enough fuel to make the roundtrip. I decided we would just stop at Lewisburg, and make him learn the lesson about planning. Enroute, some clouds began to build. I started seeing my personal forecast coming true.

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