Friday, November 20, 2009

Intro to John Part I

Hello everyone. This will most likely be the first of many different snippets about me. So I guess I'll start at the beginning. At least the beginning of my attraction to weather.

I moved to Traverse City, Michigan (KTVC) in the fall of 1990 in order to go to school at Northwestern Michigan College. My course of study was aviation. This was my second attempt at college, the first one had ended poorly, but that's a story for another day.

I quickly took to all things aviation and weather was a very large part of that. My first flight was a windy day with overcast skies. My instructor warned me that it might be a bumpy ride but there was no waiting, I wanted to start flying now. We took off into a light rain and the ride was bumpy as promised but neither of those things bothered me. The first thing that really startled me was the realization that I was in an environment that had three dimensions. I was no longer in a car that went left or right and forward or backward. I had now added up and down. As we flew away from the airport I looked around and the first question I asked my instructor was, "how do we get back?" He smiled and told me to look back over my shoulder where I could see the airport nestled at the bottom of the two bays of Traverse City.

After that initial flight I dove into the books and ended up on the correct Dean's list. I would spend hours at the airport in the general aviation terminal because they had a computer where you could get the basic weather information like METARs, TAFs and the maps. It was just black and white but I would watch the weather and print the new map every hour watching it move from Wisconsin across Lake Michigan and into the Traverse City area. The windows faced to the west-northwest over the field so I could see the weather from miles away. I took a class in weather and we actually hand plotted on Skew-T charts. Boy does that take some patience! Operating an aircraft that only weighs about 1600 pounds you quickly develop a healthy respect for mother nature.