FAA Releases New Weather Handbook

The new ‘Aviation Weather HAndbook’ features graphics and images to illustrate key concepts such as thunderstorm elements. [Credit: FAA]

Advisory circulars from the FAA used to be sent to pilots via the U.S. mail. They were printed on blue paper and sometimes arrived with such frequency you felt like you were on Hogan's Heroes—every message that the characters on that classic TV show got from London came on blue paper.

A great many of those ACs focused on weather—how to get a good weather briefing, mountain flying, thunderstorms, etc. Now all that information is available in FAA-H-8083-28, the newly updated version of the Aviation Weather Handbook.

The 532-page handbook is subdivided into three parts:

  • Part 1: Overview of the United States Aviation Weather Service Program and Information.
  • Part 2: Weather Theory and Aviation Hazards.
  • Part 3: Technical Details Relating to Weather Products and Aviation Weather Tools.

The handbook features color illustrations and bullet point presentations that make the sometimes complex nature of weather easier to understand.

A Few Highlights

Chapter 2 provides an overview of aviation weather information. A few things that will jump out to instructors and savvy pilots include a detailed account of what to expect in a standard briefing, the order in which the information is delivered, the color coding used for METARs (spoiler alert: purple and red mean no VFR flight today).

Chapter 16 on Mountain Weather should be a must read by all pilots, as lack of knowledge in these areas in particular can lead to accidents. You have probably heard about a pilot who chose to fly close to those 'really cool looking clouds' to get a photograph and ended up in a bad situation.

Chapter 18, Obstructions to Visibility does an excellent job of explaining fog, mist, and haze.

Note the message: "mist may be considered an intermediate between fog and haze," which is an excellent way to explain the phenomenon to aviators who are visual learners.

Chapter 22, Thunderstorms, goes into greater detail than in previous FAA publications, in particular on what to do if you inadvertently enter a thunderstorm—read it and then file it under “Things You Hope You Never Have to Know.”

The Aviation Weather Handbook is available in both e-format and hardcopy.

Meg Godlewski has been an aviation journalist for more than 24 years and a CFI for more than 20 years. If she is not flying or teaching aviation, she is writing about it. Meg is a founding member of the Pilot Proficiency Center at EAA AirVenture and excels at the application of simulation technology to flatten the learning curve. Follow Meg on Twitter @2Lewski.

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