Meteorology – Aviation Exams
Regarded by most aviators as the most interesting if not most complicated of aviation exams for pilots subjects. Possibly its because meteorology is hard to if not impossible to learn “parrot fashion”. Like mathematics, a firm understanding of the basic mechanisms at work is needed.
Gaining a sound understanding of meteorological principles whilst you are learning to fly will make your long term flying experience not only safer but more enjoyable.
The meteorology section of the PPL ground school course is not intended to make you a weather forecaster. In the UK we have the met office that does that for us. Rather the meteorology aviation exam and course should lead to you being able to:
- Interpret weather information and as such make informed and safe decisions about flight planning based on it.
- Assess the actual weather that is occurring and make informed decisions based on way you see and are experiencing.
It thus goes that, the better you understand meteorology, the better your judgement will be.
The meteorology PPL exam and course concentrates on the practical aspects of meteorology that affect flight planning and in-flight decisions. Getting familiar with weather reports and weather forecasts early on in your flight training will prove advantageous as you will need to ultimately understand this information explicitly.
You will probable have noticed that weather is not entirely predictable. Sure weather forecasting has gotten better with the advances in computer modelling and technology available to forecasters, but look at recent news items regarding Hurricane Sandy or Issac in the US and the unpredictable nature of the weather.
Weather systems are driven by fairly complex interactions between many different elements. A small change in just one of these elements can be enough to influence the weather, be it the slight shift in the ocean currents.
Sadly, weather is a major factor in a large percentage of general aviation accidents. Dealing with bad weather is all about pilot judgement and almost nothing to do with flying skill.
No amount of pilot flying ability will make fog any less dense, reveal a mountain hiding behind low cloud or make the inside of a cumulus nimbus any less dangerous! The root cause of almost all weather related incidents is due to poor judgement, either by ignoring or failing to account for bad weather before taking off or through continuing the flight into poor weather, rather than making a precautionary landing or turing back to your airfield of origin.
Weather is such a powerful force and not one to be underestimated. Take it on at your peril. Nature always wins and the losers are all too often those pilots who become just another accident statistic.
The Meteorology Exam
The PPL Meteorology Exam is a multiple choice paper and you are allowed 1 hour to complete the paper. A few examples of a meteorology type question would be:
Q. What is dew point?
Q. Imagine 2 parcels of air, both of which are at 15°C. One has a relative humidity of 30% and the other a relative humidity of 90%. Which will have the highest dew point temperature and why?
Q. Does a change of state directly from solid to gas absorb or release heat energy?