Working the Weather


So here we sit in a suburb of Oshkosh on Wednesday evening, “working the weather.” That’s a term we used to use in the space program when trying to launch or land the shuttle. We had very specific wind and weather criteria that was pretty restrictive, and one of the best teams of meteorologists on the planet gathering data and making forecasts. Flight Directors “worked the weather” with those guys, trying to take advantage of every wind shift and isobar to look at the data to make a flight go. Holding your mouth just right as you squinted at the stats sometimes seemed to help.

But in the end, the fact was that the weather was what the weather was—not what you wanted it to be. You could “work it” as much as you wanted, but you couldn’t change it.

But just like those days in the control center, we’re sitting here watching the radar, the METARs, the TAFs, and the text message alerts from EAA, and hoping that all the tents and airplanes are tied down well tonight. The good news is that even though there is a reasonably good chance that the really bad stuff will pass by to the north, the EAA is taking extra steps to provide buses and options for campers to take shelter in solid buildings.

How will this evening turn out? Well I guess we’ll probably know before you see this published.

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Paul Dye
Paul Dye, KITPLANES® Editor at Large, retired as a Lead Flight Director for NASA’s Human Space Flight program, with 40 years of aerospace experience on everything from Cubs to the Space Shuttle. An avid homebuilder, he began flying and working on airplanes as a teen and has experience with a wide range of construction techniques and materials. He flies an RV-8 and SubSonex jet that he built, an RV-3 that he built with his pilot wife, as well as a Dream Tundra and an electric Xenos motorglider they completed. Currently, they are building an F1 Rocket. A commercially licensed pilot, he has logged over 6000 hours in many different types of aircraft and is an A&P, FAA DAR, EAA Tech Counselor and Flight Advisor; he was formerly a member of the Homebuilder’s Council. He consults and collaborates in aerospace operations and flight-testing projects across the country.


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