Friday, July 5, 2013

Cumulus and Stratus

Date Aircraft Route of Flight Time (hrs) Total (hrs)
5 Jul 2013 N21481 5B2 (Saratoga Springs, NY) - SDC (Williamson, NY) 1.8 1173.8

Eight thousand five hundred feet above seal level, Warrior 481 and I droned home above a bed of downy condensate, weaving languidly around the larger build ups.

After many hours of instrument training, looking out the window again scratched a deeply held itch.

My iPad now routinely goes along for the ride, serving up aeronautical data via ForeFlight.

In earlier posts, I reported a recurrent issue with the iPad overheating and protectively shutting itself down.  I have since taken to placing the iPad on my left leg where it is less likely to experience direct sunlight. I have not had an issue since.

The Stratus continues to work well, riding along in the middle of the back seat and drawing in ADS-B weather and GPS position data without any heat issues whatsoever.

When I sold my beloved iFly 700 in lieu of the iPad / ForeFlight / Stratus combination, I had some initial remorse, but the set-up is serving me well.  Now that ForeFlight has added "distance rings", a feature that the  iFly incorporated that allowed for facile, at a glance, distance measurement, I no longer miss the iFly (though I wish that ForeFlight logged GPS tracks or that CloudAhoy would work with Stratus).

From some distance out, it was obvious that some heavy cells were popping up around Rochester.  I appreciated the early warning provided by ADS-B.  Syracuse approach warned of isolated cells as well and, as I drew closer to home, my eyes confirmed the cells depicted by ForeFlight.  Crossing south of Sodus Bay, the large cell parked offshore was visibly discharging electrical energy into the surface of Lake Ontario. Despite its proximity, there was no precipitation or wind gust near Williamson (though I did detect a shift in wind direction as I monitored the AWOS inbound) and I landed without issue.

The large cell hovered just north of the Williamson-Sodus Airport as I tucked Warrior 481 back into her hangar.

I realize that the ADS-B weather data provided by Stratus is delayed, a look at the recent past that should not be used in an attempt to thread between closely spaced cells.  But one of the greatest causes of anxiety (at least, for me) while airborne comes from uncertainty of what lies ahead and the situational awareness afforded by ForeFlight and Stratus has been invaluable on my last few flights.


  1. Technology in the cockpit sure has come a long way - even in the relatively few years we've been sitting in the left seat.

    I'm not sure if/what I'll buy when I dive into the IR myself, but you're certainly right that it's a helpful tool.

    1. It sure has. I think it's mission-dependent, too. From what I see out there, the really serious IFR guys still prefer XM weather. But for now, this seems like a reasonable solution. I am pleased.

    2. Yeah I don't even know that I'll be able to spring for an ADS-B box right away, but there's no denying it's usefulness.

      In reality, as a renter, I'm never going to be making a ton of long trips. So it's a bit harder to justify the expense for a trip or two a year.

    3. Yup, I get it. I had the same attitude about IFR training, honestly, prior to buying my airplane.

    4. For sure - even now, I mainly want it because I see no logical reason to work on my COMM without the IR; it's not that I'll likely put it to much use until (not if!) I own an airplane someday. That and I need it to get the CFI, which is the real end goal.