Of the numerous items that would be considered challenging to an MAF pilot, dealing with weather would probably rank in the Top 3. MAF flies its airplanes in extreme places around the world and those same extreme places can be accompanied by extreme weather. Although numerous options exist nowadays for weather reporting and predicting, most of those are not applicable to the areas we fly in. Many days when the weather is questionable, it comes down to how well you know the local area and its weather patterns that determines how much you fly and where you go. Sometimes though, it doesn’t matter how much you know about the area or how much flight time you have. When big storms occur, the best thing to do is get on the ground and wait; or in my case, that means get on the river and wait.
A few weeks ago while returning to our home base, I made it to within seven miles of home and I could not continue any further. The rain and subsequent turbulence was simply too much for this pilot and I turned around and made a straight line for a clear section of river. Thankfully, I landed on the river just as the deluge hit and I enjoyed an hour in a “new to me” village. I was warmly invited into someone’s home and we talked and enjoyed tea while the heavens cut loose just out the front door. An hour after I landed, the skies cleared up as though nothing had happened and I took off and landed at our home base nine minutes later.