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Old 1st Feb 2006, 20:54   #1 (permalink)
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Coulsdon
Posts: 264
Flying in Rain

Hi,

I've around 50hrs now but have never flown in rain, and I don't know what to expect.

The picture I have in my mind is that we've all driven down the motorway in 'VFR' and come across an unexpected rain shower which has effectively reduced viz to near zero.

I've got my QXC coming up an whilst I obviously wouldn't take off whilst it was chucking it down, the weather can change quite a lot over a few hours. So, my question is what's it like, and do you have any tips?

C23.
Cricket23 is offline  
Old 1st Feb 2006, 21:00   #2 (permalink)
 
Join Date: Jan 2001
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Yep, don't fly anything you cannot see through. Don't fly through anything under a nasty looking thunderstorm cloud. Don't fly through anything if you are in icing temps. Otherwise just go for it and ignore the noise
slim_slag is offline  
Old 1st Feb 2006, 21:05   #3 (permalink)
 
Join Date: May 2001
Location: UK
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Ah rain!

Strangely the initial reaction is the noise it creates in the cockpit than the loss of viz - it is noisy - a combination of the thiness and material of the screen and the speed compared with a car.

Viz obviously degrades according to the amount of rain. Heavy rain is sufficient to require you to fly on instruments - not a place for the VFR pilot. Even more rain can be enough to eventually overwhelm the engine.

Heavy rain is associated with CB activity - dont go there unless you really know what you are doing.

Rain will also very quickly find out if you have any leaks in the canopy or doors.

Other than that it will give the airframe a good clean.

Oh and it is wet.
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Old 1st Feb 2006, 21:09   #4 (permalink)
 
Join Date: Oct 1999
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The worst thing about rain for VFR flying is the associated lowered cloud base. It is very easy to go inadvertant IMC when flying in moderate to heavy rain.

SSD
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Old 1st Feb 2006, 21:51   #5 (permalink)
 
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I'd also avoid flying anything with a wooden prop through rain, go figure!

Stik
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Old 1st Feb 2006, 22:02   #6 (permalink)
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
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I wouldn't really worry about flying through rain. Only real things you have to worry about is freezing level and heavy rain, which you shouldn't be encountering heavy ran unless you like flying under Thunderstorms - and in that case if you do, you don't need to be flying anything.

I've flown through rain twice, although 1 was on an IFR flight plan but the rain wasn't near bad enough to restrict the visiblity I was in (I was in VMC at the time).

Main thing, just make sure its not freezing at your altitude if you hit rain. Although only being a PPL you shouldn't have to worry to much about it.
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Old 1st Feb 2006, 22:09   #7 (permalink)
 
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: Savannah GA & Portsmouth UK
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Echo the "don't fly through it if you can't see through it" advice. Suffering as I do from back trouble (it has a large yellow streak down it) I wouldn't be flying in anything more than isolated showers. I have gone round in circles south of Compton Abbas waiting for a shower to go through. This started to make me dizzy but reversing the direction did the trick. The problem with widespread rain is that it's usually accompanied by a lowering cloudbase and there's no guarantee that it won't intensify to the point where you can't see through it.

Mike
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Old 1st Feb 2006, 23:16   #8 (permalink)
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
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I love the placards in Scheibe SF25s:
"Flight in rain: Observe flight manual"

And the rest of the time?!
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Old 2nd Feb 2006, 02:48   #9 (permalink)
 
Join Date: Sep 2000
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Along with the other Avoid It advice Id echo Stiks comment and would extend it to carbon fibre props (i.e. Warp Drive)
Heavy rain erodes the leading edge of the blades quite dramatically and very quickly. They now produce a nickel edged blade, which helps at least as far as prop damage is concerned!
Safe Flying
WKW
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Old 2nd Feb 2006, 09:42   #10 (permalink)
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
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As Stik says ... rain and wooden props don't mix. I flew down to Compton a couple of years ago in the Veep. There was a massive rain cloud over the airfield so I stooged around for a while. Eventually due to low fuel, I had no choice but to head in. It was surprisingly dry crouched as low down and close to the winscreen as possible (the veep is open cockpit), but when I landed I could have cried seeing the state of the prop. It had to be rebuilt as the leading edge of the blades were completely buggered!

SS
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Old 2nd Feb 2006, 14:36   #11 (permalink)
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
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I sometimes fly a Firefly (original one-piece canopy) which leaks in rain - you get rain down the back of your neck, of all places...

As for the heavy showers, that's why you learn diversion techniques on your PPL, isn't it (e.g. 45 deg left, time 5 minutes, 90 deg right, time 5 minutes, 45 deg left, confirm position...)

Tim
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Old 2nd Feb 2006, 19:43   #12 (permalink)
 
Join Date: May 1999
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shaggy Sheep Driver
The worst thing about rain for VFR flying is the associated lowered cloud base. It is very easy to go inadvertant IMC when flying in moderate to heavy rain.
SSD
er...'inadvertant' i think not. That is one of the most overused and useless comments in aviation - peronally I wish it was considered 'taboo' as a term - its like 'hangar rash' a term used to cover up and make exceedingly poor airmanship sound like some kind of unavoidable happening.

The ONLY time inadvertant IMC may occur is at night. Simple as that.

At all other times the pilot flew his 100kt aeroplane into conditions that he shouldnt have - either too close, or pressed on into deteriorating wx.

If you flew through rain - you *MADE* a choice. It is therefore not inadvertant - particularly if you did not consider the possibility that the water might reduce visibilty to an unacceptable level - remember unless you are appropriatelky qualified you need 3km vis - and that means in rain too! Also I should point out that it is in-flight visibility (i.e. directly in front of you) NOT your ability to see the ground 3km away - the point of the VMC minima is to avoid collisions amongst other things...

But all other things being equal rain is not really a problem. However, be warned that some modern types (typically composite aircraft), and microlights (with dacron/ultralam cloth) do not take well to rain and rain may not only reduce performance but may well result in a significant loss of lift - Before flying any aircraft in such wx make yourself familiar with the POH.

Of course - dog-legging or diversion is always a good option.

If you flew me through a rain shower that lost us the required VMC minima on flight test I would automatically fail you. No argument - loss of VMC and the resultant accident statistics should let you know how important it is to maintain VMC unless appropriately qualified. So my advice is - dont go there.

Bearing that in mind, I also advocate - don't fly through something you can't see through - but also think about the type of cloud above - it can suddenly develop into torrential rain - again losing VMC minima - so be warned - its a dynamic environment out there!

Safe flying.

Oh BTW tmmorris - that very a/c put snow down my collar 12 months ago!!! brrrrrrr.
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Old 2nd Feb 2006, 19:58   #13 (permalink)
 
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Well with that particular VP's range only being about 100 miles and most of it used up ... I guess I could have landed in a field as my only alternative. As it was, a short flight through rain didn't seem too bad an option, and other than the prop damage, was a bit of a non-event.

SS
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Old 2nd Feb 2006, 20:59   #14 (permalink)
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
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If a plane leaks when flying through rain, it will also leak sitting on the ground parked outdoors where, statistically, it will see far more hours of rain than when airborne. After a while, it's going to stink like a cesspit. I know, I used to fly Tomahawks which would have 1/2" of water on the floor (and stank accordingly).

I'd get the door seals fixed.

If the door seals are that bad, chances are the filler cap seals haven't been looked at in years. I once drained about a litre of pure clean water out of a Tomahawk fuel tank; this is not condensation (not physically possible, by at least one order of magnitude), it's duff seals allowing rain to get in. Now, think how much more rain will get in at 100kt...

Naturally, all these were on a CAA Transport CofA.........
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Old 2nd Feb 2006, 21:04   #15 (permalink)
Final 3 Greens
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The ONLY time inadvertant IMC may occur is at night. Simple as that.

I disagree. Anyone who flies at night and does not have a plan for penetrating clouds or areas of darkness with no visible horizon is a complete menace IMHO.

Undertaking night flying by visual reference is also a choice and there must be a valid contingency plan before making that choice.

If you flew me through a rain shower that lost us the required VMC minima on flight test I would automatically fail you.

Also I should point out that it is in-flight visibility (i.e. directly in front of you) NOT your ability to see the ground 3km away - the point of the VMC minima is to avoid collisions amongst other things...

So tell me, how do you definitively measure in flight viz directly in front - i.e. without any reference?
 
Old 2nd Feb 2006, 21:21   #16 (permalink)
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Coulsdon
Posts: 264
All good food for thought so far.
Indeed, if I saw rain ahead I would divert accordingly.
But taking the point from 'FormationFlyer' -".....but also think about the type of cloud above - it can suddenly develop into torrential rain - again losing VMC minima - so be warned - its a dynamic environment out there!"
So, in this event, when you are suddenly dumped on, what would you do? Do a 180 like you would if you flew into a cloud and couldn't see through it, or......?
C23
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Old 2nd Feb 2006, 23:06   #17 (permalink)
 
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"Anyone who flies at night and does not have a plan for penetrating clouds or areas of darkness with no visible horizon is a complete menace IMHO."

Yet, a plain PPL with a NQ is allowed to fly at night...

Time to duck again!

(I think night flight should require an instrument qualification, but many would disagree)
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Old 2nd Feb 2006, 23:11   #18 (permalink)
Final 3 Greens
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IO540

I got an NR years ago, before I understood such things.

73 hours TT and off I went with a shiny new PPL, no IMCR or IR and lots of confidence.

I'd think twice about it now.
 
Old 3rd Feb 2006, 07:03   #19 (permalink)
 
Join Date: Jan 1999
Location: north of barlu
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Io540

The leaking aircraft in the post above is one best examples of your opinion about the UK GA fleet, the owner has invested next to no money in it for years and this shows from 100yds away.

I simply could not rent out an aircraft in that state and face my customers, in my opinion a little water in that aircraft is the the least of your problems . . . . and flying in rain is the only time that it will get a wash!
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Old 3rd Feb 2006, 07:08   #20 (permalink)
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
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some answers are more helpful than others........

if vis deteriorates, you may wish to configure accordingly - turning your landing light on might alert other aircraft to your presence

if rain is also a bit sleety, and depending upon how your plane is aspirated, you may wish to apply carb heat

if you've been a bit higher up for while where it's properly cold, and you've descended but your plane's still cold soaked, then avoid the rain. If you can't avoid the rain, then watch for ice on the wings and learn where the demist controls are inside the cockpit

as for the windscreen wipers, you'll find the prop wash does a good job of keeping the screen clear
D SQDRN 97th IOTC is offline  
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