According to the event’s organizers and helpers, there were no accidents during Colorado Fly Week. Certainly, there were a few bumps and bruises here and there, which is respectable, but all in all everyone made good decisions and the reward was an accident-free week. Good on you if you were there and let’s keep this trend at our local sites through the rest of the year.
Remember, autumn conditions can be just as unpredictable as spring conditions. Weather patterns that you’ve been used to over the past 3-4 months are going to start shifting. A few items that quickly come to mind…
- steeper lapse rates given upper atmospheric cooling = strong climbs and potentially rough conditions
- the re-approach of the Polar jet… it’s been chillin’ farther north during the summer months (with the occasional visit), but it will start moving its way south back toward mid-continent. Now is a good time to re-visit what constitutes safe winds aloft in the presence of the jet.
- inversions and down sloping air parcels… as strong winter-time inversions break down (sometimes they won’t during the course of a day, or even for an extended time frame- think of the bad winter front range ozone alert days) strong winds aloft can mix down rapidly. Add to this sinking cold parcels of air from aloft in the presence of a stable layer at or above mountain top heights. Generally, these down sloping conditions are readily observable and you wouldn’t even think of getting your wing out to kite, much less fly. These down sloping winds will always have a westerly component so for front range flying, one can’t even get off the hill because it’s over-the-back so fiercely. Just be aware of changing conditions throughout the flying day.