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Flying VFR in Rain?

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Flying VFR in Rain?

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Old 7th Nov 2018, 22:10
  #21 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by WestBoundPilot View Post
Am I right in thinking that you can fly VFR in rain provided visibility is above the minimum distance (I could check the METAR for visibility)? And what about snowing conditions in a C172 which has no anti-/de-icing except pitot heat? Would it be prudent to turn back? Thanks!
My first reaction was don't feed the troll, but after reading some of the other answers ...
There is nothing wrong with flying in rain or snow, as long as you know what you are doing.

METAR will not be the whole story, as that is typically ground based. My rule of thumb, if you can see through, you can fly through. If it gets dark inside, you may have turbulence in rain and that is to avoid. Trust your skills and trust your judgement.

Snowing is no different to rain, but beware of icing. Again, there is nothing wrong flying through snow, if visibility is within legal limits. A C172/C182 is able to take quite a fair amount of ice, so even if there is ice building up, it rarely is an immediate emergency. Usually the fear (not to say German Angst) is far worse the actual possible threat.

So, yes, I do fly frequently VFR through rain and snow and am still alive, no pox collected in these conditions, no alien abuse, not to say quite uneventful for all occasions so far (including ice on a pitot heat only C172). Untrained and fearful students should avoid these conditions, but there is no reason to follow the contemporary fully comprehensive cover avoid all risks mentality.
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Old 7th Nov 2018, 23:17
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A C172/C182 is able to take quite a fair amount of ice, so even if there is ice building up, it rarely is an immediate emergency.
Like any plane, a 172, or 182 can withstand a pile of ice - as long as it's parked safely on the ground. In flight is a very different matter! The discussion of the hazards of ice accumulation on non deiced planes is comprehensive, though we can go through it again if it needs to be refreshed. Succinctly, Cessna says: "Flight into known icing conditions is prohibited". Could it be more clear? I speak from first hand experience, if ice is accumulating on a non deiced airframe, it is an immediate emergency!

Usually the fear (not to say German Angst) is far worse the actual possible threat.
And it is acting based upon that fear, and avoiding flight into icing conditions, which will keep you alive!
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Old 8th Nov 2018, 00:27
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Originally Posted by AlexJR View Post
With all of these conditions I think it is important to experience them first of all with an instructor so that if you are caught out then you know what to expect and handle it without panicking. Last winter it started snowing heavily from high level which was quite stunning to fly through with no issues - good viz with big flakes. Another time during circuits a far wetter/harder snow came across the airfield and we decided to stay local until it passed.

The lesson was to stay local if the forecast was uncertain - go up to experience the conditions but don't plan for lunch on the IOW as you might not be able to safely get home!
I am reading some of these posts, and I ask myself what was you guys doing in your principles of flight and Met classes?

I believe the saying, there are old pilots, and there are bold pilots, you won't often find bold pilots that are old pilots.

Visibility is one separate issue, and flying on a very hot summer day trough light rain shower would be fine. But if you find yourself asking the question if this is safe or not, than it probably isn't safe.
I use the same logic if I should turn on anti-ice or not, if I am in doubt, I turn it on. I am not going to sit there and second guess myself.

Icing conditions can occur at temperatures of up to + 10 C. Even flying in warmer air, you can have super-cooled water droplets.

On a light aircraft you have no good ice-detection system, and no good reliable OAT measurement. The chance that you are flying at an altitude that has OAT of less than +10 C is great. You have very little information to help you make a wise decision, and it seems coming here on PPRuNe, and asking for advice, is an even less wise decision, as some of the answers I have seen here are scary dangerous.

What effects does light icing have on your aircraft?
Decreased lift, Increased weight, decreased thrust and increased drag - the effects of this are loosing altitude, loosing airspeed, loosing lift, increased stall speed. Flying with even small amount of ice on your aircraft will make you a test pilot, and if you are a pilot flying a C172, I don't think thats what you want to do.

Listening to various advice from here can get you killed, as icing does kill many pilots every year, not respecting the forces of mother nature.
Remember you are flying around in an aircraft with ONE engine, no anti-icing protection for either engine or the aerodynamic surfaces of the aircraft.

Also to believe that flying with an instructor is going to teach you how to fly in rain/weather conditions, what nonsense. Do you believe the engine or the aerodynamic surfaces will withstand icing just because you have an instructor with you? Most instructors are not always that experienced, as many are fairly low experienced looking to get hours so they can get airline jobs. Their knowledge and experience is limited.

Any liquid such as rain on the surfaces of the aircraft will change the aircraft's normal performance, ice and snow ever more, so why would you want to risk it? In addition if you go under the wrong type of clouds, you could experience a bumpy ride with the risk of downdrafts.

My saying is, if in doubt, there is no doubt, don't do it. Aviation does not often give you a second chance if you mess it up.
Think good airman-ship.
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Old 8th Nov 2018, 02:58
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Three times I have been aboard an aircraft which was out of control due to airframe ice, twice, descending with inadequate control. In each case control was regained by shedding the ice, twice by descending into warmer air, and melting it off, and the other time (a C 150 in which I was a 15 year old passenger) by climbing into colder clear air, and staying up so long that some came off by sublimation. One of those aircraft, a Cessna 303, was certified and fit for flight into icing conditions, and still could not manage it! An AD was issued on the type about it! The other, a Twin Otter, had oodles of power to get out, but was so heavily iced, that I was descending with full power. I learned to be more and more scared of airframe ice. Some non deiced airplanes can withstand some airframe ice, but the pilot has no means of controlling how much ice is accumulating, other than to get out of the icing conditions ASAP. Just avoid ice in non deiced aircraft, and approach with caution in deiced aircraft.
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Old 8th Nov 2018, 16:33
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It's not rubbish to say that flying with an instructor teaches you to deal with unexpected weather conditions. When you are driving a car, did your instructor teach you how to avoid aqua planing or tell you it's raining, therefore too dangerous - go home.

The fact is we live in the UK and unless you want to fly once every 8 weeks on the weekend in perfect sunshine, there may be rain that comes and goes, or in the winter rain/snow that blows through quickly. I would not plan a long distance flight in these conditions and don't have the experience to do so, but local with a risk of a shower? for sure, unless of course the forecast is for CBs etc. Icing is a whole other issue and not one to which my original post makes reference.

The point is you don't plan to fly through rain for an hour, but if you are up and it happens, you need to know how to deal with it in a calm and measured way. Learning to be a pilot is learning when not to go flying at all, but it is also dealing with challenging situations calmly when they arise - the pilot mentality. For me, this is learning from someone more experienced than myself not to "panic" in a rain shower, or if the clouds drop to 500ft. In the scary situation mentioned above where icing occurred, did the person learn from an instructor what to do if icing occurs? We learn from our instructor's experience so we don't make the same mistakes - even if what we learn is to stay on the ground that day!
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Old 8th Nov 2018, 19:56
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Originally Posted by 2unlimited View Post
Flying with even small amount of ice on your aircraft will make you a test pilot, and if you are a pilot flying a C172, I don't think thats what you want to do.
I noticed and have to respect the contemporarily common methodology to generate power by hate-speeches and generating fear, but this simply is not true.

The older aircraft do have quite a safety margin, usually bigger compared to modern design, and we know this not by having cuddled pussy home cushions. Especially C172/C182/BE33/BE35 have been through quite serious and yes, sometimes believed to be dangerous, situations without harm.

No, if you pick up a little ice you have to be cautious, but not in fear.
No, you will be no test pilot, hundreds have been there and managed it.

The OP asked about rain and snow. No, if done with an open airmanship mind both are not a nogo area. When icing starts, you have to do something, i.e. first think, but usually there are several options you prepared for in advance.

If we leave the old designs and move to 'modern' slick and fancy laminar wing profiles, things change. Yes, a Cirrus or Columbia or Aquila will show much more sensitivity to ice and I would treat the beginning of icing in a non-Fiki SR22 as a very serious issue, but that was not what the OP asked. As always, know your aircraft, know how to deal with nature, know the weather and know yourself. If you are not experienced and fearful, stay out of any non CAVOK Sunday flight, but please do not try to evangelize.
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Old 8th Nov 2018, 20:08
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Flying in rain does not usually have any possibility of icing. VFR flying, where the aircraft has never been cold-soaked at altitude, and is staying well below freezing level, can be done for a whole flight, well over an hour. Just remember to frequently use carb heat if not fuel injected.
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Old 8th Nov 2018, 20:16
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Originally Posted by TheSkylander View Post
But of course pay attention to wich type of rain is, and clouds. We might fly below Cu and stratus but not below Cb or TCU, in this case just go around clouds otherwise turn back.
"If you can see through it you can fly through it."

I will fly through rain (VFR) if I can see through the shower, and if the cloud above is white rather than black (I don't fly under black clouds even if it isn't raining).

Originally Posted by 2unlimited View Post
Flying with even small amount of ice on your aircraft will make you a test pilot, and if you are a pilot flying a C172, I don't think thats what you want to do.
Sitting in the bath one day, going flying later that day, listening to the radio.

An instructor goes up in a C152 to see where the cloud tops are. "Hi folks, I'm on top here at 4,000'. But I've picked up quite a bit of ice - I'm only getting 70kts [or whatever it was] on full power and it's not climbing any more, I supposed I'd better come down now."
...
...
...
(FTAOD: do not try this at home children. This particular instructor was a test pilot as his day job.)

Re ice detection, in a C172 I've been told "look at the tyre, you'll see it there first". But I've never been in ice so don't have any first hand experience as to whether that's right or not.
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Old 8th Nov 2018, 20:50
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Originally Posted by AlexJR View Post
It's not rubbish to say that flying with an instructor teaches you to deal with unexpected weather conditions. When you are driving a car, did your instructor teach you how to avoid aqua planing or tell you it's raining, therefore too dangerous - go home.

The fact is we live in the UK and unless you want to fly once every 8 weeks on the weekend in perfect sunshine, there may be rain that comes and goes, or in the winter rain/snow that blows through quickly. I would not plan a long distance flight in these conditions and don't have the experience to do so, but local with a risk of a shower? for sure, unless of course the forecast is for CBs etc. Icing is a whole other issue and not one to which my original post makes reference.

The point is you don't plan to fly through rain for an hour, but if you are up and it happens, you need to know how to deal with it in a calm and measured way. Learning to be a pilot is learning when not to go flying at all, but it is also dealing with challenging situations calmly when they arise - the pilot mentality. For me, this is learning from someone more experienced than myself not to "panic" in a rain shower, or if the clouds drop to 500ft. In the scary situation mentioned above where icing occurred, did the person learn from an instructor what to do if icing occurs? We learn from our instructor's experience so we don't make the same mistakes - even if what we learn is to stay on the ground that day!

Comparing driving a car in the rain, and flying in the rain, I am not sure if I understand that analogy. If you think the 2 are equal, than I don't have the energy to explain you the difference, if you can't see that yourself.
The only good example I can use though regarding driving, is when it comes snow and iced roads, having lived many years in winter countries, I am well aware how to safely drive in winter conditions, however to do it I must have the right equipment, and to use UK as an example, you don't have the right equipment for driving in winter conditions and most have no clue of how to drive in winter conditions. It's very simple, nobody in Scandinavia would go out driving like they do in the UK when it comes snow and icy roads, because they know it's not safe.
So equally why would you go flying into weather, when you know you don't have the right equipment to manage various weather condition, flying trough a weather not knowing if it might effect your safety, that's just bad airmanship, it might work fine 9 out of 10 times, you might have one day, as you are most likely not a Met expert, and you have limited experience with such weather, and that one day you might just get caught out. I have seen ice build up fairly rapidly on a couple of occasions, but that aircraft had wing and engine anti-ice.

Regarding instructors, most instructors I have dealt with have been very competent indeed, however a smart pilot will not go out experimenting in dodgy weather conditions. This includes smart instructors too, if I was instructing I would not want teach my students bad habits and bad airmanship.

In life sometimes we don't need to learn from having a bad experience, because in aviation that can be your last. A good pilot will avoid any adverse weather conditions, there is no need to even take a calculated risk. Flying a SEP like C172, you don't have sufficient equipment to know how bad the situation is around you. Since we are talking about UK, besides a few months in the summer, when you have warm weather, most of the year the temperature above 2000 ft will be below 10 C, so that means there is a potential icing risk, add to that the extreme humid weather you have in the UK, I would be careful flying in rain. The rain will not all of a sudden appear out of no where, and the risk of ending in cloud is equally dangerous, as you can have pretty strong winds at 2000 - 3000 ft in the UK.
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Old 8th Nov 2018, 22:00
  #30 (permalink)  
 
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Flying in rain does not usually have any possibility of icing.
Oooo, I've had rain turn into sticking freezing rain in flight, and that happens fast! If it's raining, and around +1C or so, watch out! I once flew into visible rain near freezing, and in addition to the windshield icing right over in an instant, the engine also stopped near instantly. I pulled carb heat, and it sprang to life. It was not carb ice (that takes a bit of time), but rather the air filter iced over instantly. The carb heat did not return the engine to running because of the heat, but rather the fact that it is also "alternate air", and the engine could breath the air from inside the cowl, and bypass the iced over air filter. I did a 180 right away, and it took a while for the windshield to clear, even with defog. The icing event, from entering the visible rain, to my turning 180 and exiting (including engine management) took less than a minute.

The older aircraft do have quite a safety margin, usually bigger compared to modern design, and we know this not by having cuddled pussy home cushions. Especially C172/C182/BE33/BE35 have been through quite serious and yes, sometimes believed to be dangerous, situations without harm.
These aircraft have built in safety margins for many things, like slight overspeed, over stress or over current. There is no safety margin for flight in icing conditions - it has not been tested in non deiced types! It's not required to be tested for approval of non icing approved airplanes, so there is no formal knowledge of a safety margin for icing flying for these designs. That fact is probably the basis for the prohibition of flight in icing conditions for these types! So don't fly them in ice - at all! That's not hard to understand is it? The fact that someone on the internet can tell you to disregard the prohibition in the POH, and fly it into a "little ice" is just proof that pilots should take seriously what the POH says about the airplane, rather than comments on the internet!


No, if you pick up a little ice you have to be cautious, but not in fear.
No, you will be no test pilot, hundreds have been there and managed it
Gee, how much is a "little ice" on a 172, and what does "be cautious" mean while carrying that ice? Does being cautious mean that the pilot should realize that the aircraft will no longer perform the way the POH says it will? What's the new performance data or operating limitations while carrying ice? What's the new stall speed? Approach speed? Landing distance? Preferred flap selections?

No, blundering into ice contrary to limitations in the POH does not make you a test pilot. Test pilots fly airplanes with lots of planning, a defined configuration, and purposely gather data for a stated purpose. Maybe hundreds of non deiced airplanes have "managed" in ice. A whole lot have not managed, and crashed fatally also. How would a pilot know which outcome was ahead of them when carelessly entering icing conditions?

To the OP, it is wise to ask, make sure that the answers you read align with the more conservative understanding you gain from POH's and other sources you know to be authoritative! When you read an anonymous poster saying to disregard a caution, or prohibition, alarms should go off in your mind!
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Old 8th Nov 2018, 23:15
  #31 (permalink)  
 
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I am just lost for words when I read some of these posts, but than again what do I know, I just been flying since 1990. I flew loads in Scandinavia too in SEP. The day I took my PPL, me and another student spent 4 - 5 hours de-icing the airplane before we could fly to make our test.

I wonder why airlines operate with clean aircraft concept? And if ice accretion expected you need to add XX amounts of knots on your approach speeds etc. Equally if heavy rain, as the aerodynamic surfaces will change their behaviour.
Than again I am not one of those who loads up a C172 full with fuel, 4 pax and takes off without checking their weight and balance, and just about scrubs over the top of the trees during take off.

Taking those "chances", is the reason people get into trouble every year, because they don't respect the forecast, weather, and fly into conditions they are not qualified to fly in, don't have the right equipment to fly in.
I am instrument rated, but still I would not fly into a cloud with C172 as it does not have the right equipment to protect against ice, if flying in icing conditions.

Anybody believing you can't pick up ice from rain is living in La La land.
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Old 9th Nov 2018, 01:33
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When I teach weather I start with the question "what is making the weather?", The question of "should I fly in rain ?" is really a subset of knowing what is the more general weather pattern. Leaving aside the issue of rain at temps near freezing, with respect to rain, especially steady rain, I want to know how and when the weather is going to deteriorate because it usually does when it rains. Then I want to factor in where I am going and how far. A bit of a miserable rainy day might be OK for a short flight over relatively flat terrain but constitute total unsuitable conditions if there are hills and valleys I have to negotiate.

If I have a choice, like showers from isolated towering Cu I will generally fly around the showers for a couple of reasons. One is most airplanes leak and other is it is usually bumpy under the Cu. I will never again fly through Virga as I had my airplane blasted by hail going through a patch of Virga that was light enough to see right through.....

With respect to SEP and icing, well that is easy. Stay out of conditions that can produce ice and if you do get any ice take immediate action to return to non icing conditions
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