Friday, July 15, 2005

Economists & Weather Forecasters, part IV

That one storm was dissipating by the time we landed, but there was more on the way. If we'd had enough fuel, we could have turned around and gotten out of there before anything significant got too close. But we were down to minimum fuel for the return, having exhausted an extra half hour while holding. Minimum fuel, with a good chance of vectoring for storm avoidance, meant I was refueling there.

Once we had fuel, I checked the radar, and decided it was not a good idea. A particularly nasty storm was moving our way, and one was building in the middle of the return route. Staying there, we risked the possibility of damaging winds and even hail, but I'd rather see those from the ground than in flight. I called the school, just to let them know I would likely be extremely late returning. The owner essentially told me I was a chicken for not going. I don't take too well to someone trying to pressure me, and that was no exception. (That was one of the characteristics of that school which eventually caused me to leave and start a competing school on the other end of the same hangar).

At this point, I was getting frustrated though. The student was wearing on my nerves with his total disregard for everything I had specifically instructed him to do. Every little thing he did was starting to grind on me. Staring at the forecast, I realized that we stood a chance of being stuck there several hours, if not overnight. I even entertained the notion of renting a car and driving the 5 hours back home, just to avoid having to deal with him any longer. I'm generally a very patient instructor, but he was hitting all the wrong nerves.

A cooler mind prevailed though, and I found a hole in the weather after another two hours. The return was thankfully nowhere near as eventful. But I finished the day with a strong appreciation for gut instincts, and a firm grasp of how inaccurate forecasts can be.

I still maintain, that weather forecasters have the easier job. No lost income, no real danger to the job. Maybe I should become a meteorologist.

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