Complimenting ATC question


#1

Who would I contact to give good comments on ATC services I received from Memphis center and KJAN yesterday on my flight from KBWG to KMBO.

Everybody hears the bad, but never the good.

flightaware.com/live/flight/N194 … /KBWG/KMBO was the flight and as you can see at the end, I did some doglegging around storms that would have been much more difficult without the eyes of ATC. Instrument approach was not an option.

I already emailed Natca for info, but hoping somebody here has another email addy or such.

Thanks!

Allen


#2

:laughing: and people think I’m a pot stirrer…


#3

You know, Dr. Pepper doesn’t do wonder for human “airways” :smiley:

Allen


#4

I would just call FSS and ask them for the number for Memphis Center (if L-M can figure out how to use their fancy new systen to get you the number), then talk to both the controller and his supervisor. They don’t get much positive feedback, as you pointed out.


#5

Memphis Center NATCA:

Ron Carpenter, NATCA Facility Representative at Memphis Air Route Traffic Control Center, 901-367-9624; rcarpentar@natca.net

Here is some contact info for NATCA in Washington.

1325 Massachusetts Ave., N.W.
Washington, DC 20005
Phone: 202/628-5451
Fax: 202/628-5767


#6

wouldcha get your instrument rating already!!!


#7

What makes you think I am not IA rated?? :smiley:

ATC “guided me home” through a field of thunderstorms that would not have gone nearly as smoothly as it did. IA rating would have been useless.

As indicated earlier, instrument approach (first clue that I am IA rated) was not an option as the thunderstorms were over the approach fixes KMBO for the GPS 17 and VOR alpha.

With the eyes of ATC and radar, they were able to precisely vector me around the thunderstorms with me using my eyes outside verifying what they were painting on radar.

Yeah, I could have been VFR picking my way around, but I would have not a clue what was behind the cells I was between and not even known that KMBO was even reachable without penetrating the intense showers. The video really doesn’t do it justice, but see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tsKjwTe3p1w) for what I was encountering and what I had to dog leg through.

The entire forecast was a bust, I had gotten a briefing before leaving BWG (intermediary stop from 2G2) and when I looked on the radar, there wasn’t a rain echo within the state of MS much less what I encountered.

I was to arrive 3 hours before the storms were forecasted of 2:00 p.m. (11:00 a.m. arrival generally is not a normal time for popcorn T’storms) Sattellite images had no clouds over central and southern MS, just a light high level cloud band over northern MS.

The thunderstorm complex blossomed in less then one hours time as I could see forever and a day ahead on my southwest bound trek above stratocumulus cloud deck. In the morning, this is not a normal event from my experiences in central MS. Onboard radar would have been too delayed for me to rely on what I was experiencing it popped up that fast.

Allen


#8

Thanks!

Left a message with these folks. Hopefully somebody will call me back!

Allen


#9

Allen - you said instrument approach not an option. Its always an option, ne pas?

When someone states that an IA is not an option, well, would not your assumption naturally be that that person is not rated?

alternatively = a faster airplane means there is less chance for the TSRA to jump and ruin your day . . .


#10

Allen:

By “onboard radar”, do you mean XM satellite weather (vs. true onboard weather radar)? I had a flight in a very similar situation through Utah last week with cells building all around. Through a combination of Mark I eyeballs and XM satellite weather, I had no problem picking my way around the cells. I was also talking to ATC and their radar showed the same thing as XM. While I would not want to fly too close to a cell based on XM, it seemed sufficient to work around scattered cells, even rapidly developing ones, from what I have seen.


#11

I mean the XM radio, one received by the Garmin 496 handheld device. I was told it was a 7 to 11 minute delay, which in my situation would not have been good.

Allen


#12

Sent Ron and a couple other NATCA folks that I was referred to the following email below my name. Victor emailed me.

I really hope it gets in the hands of the folks that oversee the Memphis Center and KJAN approach controllers.

Allen

Victor,

Thank you very much for getting me the contacts.

I have replied to all with the hopes this message gets to the folks that need to know about the quality service I received on Sunday, September 2nd, 2007 including supervisors and powers to be of the folks that handled me on this day.

Good service needs to be recognized.

I flew on Sunday from 2G2 to KMBO via KBWG. I filed an IFR flight plan for both legs GPS direct as I am rated for instrument conditions…

flightaware.com/live/flight/N194 … /KBWG/KMBO was my second leg.

As you can see from the flight path, my first leg was as uneventful as it gets. I knew that thunderstorms were in the forecast for the KMBO area and got an updated flight briefing using a meterologix terminal at KBWG. The forecast was for scattered thunderstorms beginning 2:00 central time (19Z). Radar was nil of any echos on departure in the state of MS and my review of satellite images showed a high level of clouds over northern TN and clear through the remainder of the flight, clearly should have been a no brainer flight just like the first leg.

My first clue the forecast was not going to be as forecasted was in the northern part of MS, I encountered stratocumulus deck well below me. I do not have XM radio or any type of inflight weather services, nor do I think these services would have been of any help for as quickly the weather built up.

The deck was solid and wasn’t forecasted. I monitored ATIS and ASOS en route using nearby airports and clearly benign IFR conditions were below me, Still no biggie, as I am current with my IFR approaches and did the ILS approach down to 700 feet AGL going to KBWG and the GPS approach at KBWG on my return home in actual conditions.

It was as I got closer to KJAN I could clearly see some buildups in my flight path. I was on 132.75 with Memphis center during this flight and asked for weather radar advisories.

The center controller said he could only see intense echos on his radar and it wasn’t to be considered accurate, which I already knew. The center controller said he would check with Jackson approach (KJAN) for better information. Seeing the buildups were getting substantial, I requested and was promptly approved a 270 heading for build up clearly indicated on the flight track. The center controller comforted me in saying he will coordinate the hand off sooner to KJAN so I could get better weather radar services. I am sure he could hear the concern in my voice.

As I turned 270, I could see the thunderstorms to my left, building cells on my right and saw ground on my current 270 heading. Because I was monitoring ASOS and ATIS, I knew what the ceilings were within a reasonable distance of my flight position. I requested and was promptly approved 3000 for my descent so I could remain VMC on my initial approach to KMBO. flightaware.com/live/flight/N194 … O/tracklog shows my altitude and where I requested 3000. I do not have autopilot.

Memphis handed me off to Jackson approach in a prompt and orderly fashion in which I thank him on my handoff as I have done this flight from this direction many times and I knew he did something a little extra to hand me off sooner.

Jackson approach 123.90 took me under their guidance, and was asked what kind of approach I wanted. Since the raincells were building rapidly and I wanted to maintain VMC, I requested and was approved a visual approach.

I asked Jackson approach what they saw on their radar and they indicated that they had heavy to intense echos between me, KMBO and the JAN VOR which is the initial approach fix for KMBO. GPS 17 approach was not an option due to the heavy rain between me and the airport and the VOR alpha approach was quickly not becoming an option.

The showers were very heavy and I could not see through the rain, it was coming down so hard, so I remained clear of the showers and was approved deviations as needed by both Memphis earlier and KJAN approach. I was instructed to descend and maintain 2000 which gave me further clearance from the bases of the cloud deck.

I asked Jackson Approach if getting to KMBO was possible and they said the rain was not over KMBO at that time, and I asked them if they could provide weather assistance in getting around the intense rain showers.

The calmness in controller was very reassuring to this pilot, and provided precise and accurate vectors for me to navigate between the thunderstorms / heavy rain showers. He was even able to tell me when to expect light rain over my position, the reports were that accurate. I kept the approach controller advised of my weather conditions to hopefully help him confirm what he was seeing.

My initial instructions were to head toward the JAN VOR, in which I complied. As I got closer to the JAN VOR, it quickly became apparent that the VOR alpha just wasn’t going to happen, so the controller suggested headings to remain clear of the intense echos on his radar. I made it quite clear to him, I will accept any headings he would give me that would keep me clear of the cells.

After all, he could see the whole picture, all I saw were a wall of rain and clouds…

Because of the attention Memphis and Jackson approach controllers gave to me, this particular flight was a non event that the folks on the ground will never hear about and this is truly unfortunate.

Yes, it was possible for me to plunder around aimlessly hoping that I would get to KMBO, but with the sharp and accurate services I received from both Memphis center and Jackson Approach, brought the anxiety level to this pilot on this particular flight exponentially lower AND got me home in a expeditious matter that simply could not have been accomplished without ATC assistance.

While I was in an urgent situation, this never escalated to an emergency situation because ATC services were there to assist me.

I have been flying for 6 years and NEVER had any bad experiences with any component of ATC and have always found ATC most accommodating to my needs.

To give you an idea of flight conditions, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2YU7CC89fd4) is mostly my trip home even though the title was to Ohio. Going up was as mundane as it gets (which is a good thing!)

To see what Memphis Center and KJAN guided me home through, see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tsKjwTe3p1w) I really hope the controllers in question get to see this second video as a pictures
does speak volumes in the importance of the quality services I received. You can see that I emphasised coordination of ATC and me was critical in guiding me home.

Please forward this to any person that will benefit and you have my explicit permission to republish or forward this email as deemed fit, as I know the importance of ATC services, and the recognition that is needed for the quality services that was given to me.

Thank you for taking the time to read this.

If you have any questions, or need any additional information, feel free to call me on my cell at 601-xxx-xxxx or email me.

Thank you again!

Allen Lieberman
332 Wood Duck Circle
Brandon MS 39047


#13

While I know it’s possible to file IFR, pick up the clearance and not be IA rated, my being tracked would have been a subliminal clue. :slight_smile: that I was IA rated.

In addition, yes, the way I worded it, it was vague and I should have been clearer on why the instrument approach was not an option.

Unless one is silly enough to penetrate a downpour you cannot see through, and the instrument approach takes you through that downpour, it’s not an option for my 180 horses that keeps me aloft as there would be a good chance the 180 ponies wouldn’t have enough ooomph to fly through the potential downdraft…

Or an earlier departure time… On my budget, me thinks I will stick with my Slowdowner. :smiley:

Allen


#14

There are multiple delays in the XM weather products and I understand that some of them are longer than others (for example, certain weather products are processed by XM after they are received from NOAA) Then there is a lag as the data is uploaded to the satellite and downloaded to your receiver. Finally, there is a lag shown on your display from one data transmission to the next. I’ve heard that the total should typically be in the range of 7 minutes.

If you translate that into the change in position of a cell, however, that isn’t usually a large distance. A strong wind aloft at piston altitudes is 30 - 40 knots, which means a 6 minute lag would only translate into a 3-4 nautical mile change in cell location. You would normally be giving cells 4 to 6 times that distance, so even a fairly long time lag should not put you too close to a cell. You also know the approximate winds aloft, so can factor that into your decision-making in translating the display into current cell position.

In terms of time to build-up to a thunderstorm, the fastest that I’ve ever seen or heard of is 20 minutes. That means that you would have multiple display cycles to see a cell building on your display in order to avoid it.

I am in no way advocating the use of XM weather to find a way through a line of thunderstorms, but am describing how to get the most of the information that you have available in the cockpit.


#15

20 minutes from puffy cumulus to full blown Tstorm is what I heard too, but the danger starts well before the first strike of lightning, which I believe was in my case.

In ten minutes it went from tops of 8 or 9K to the oh crap hit the fan time. Even with one cycle of XM radar, that would have been too late for my needs.

I am all for using every tool in the tool kit, and XM weather is one, but from what I experienced, it would have failed miserably if that 7 minute delay is in fact truth. The best tool I had in my tool kit was ATC and they came through wonderfully.

The only reason I don’t have XM is my flying is generally of such that weather at my departure airport is generally the same at my destination, as I usually fly 1 1/5 hours or so. It’s only maybe 3 or 4 times a year that I go further then that where I actually cross weather systems.

I just can’t justify the subscription cost for the 1 or 2 times that I go to Baltimore or Ohio.

Allen


#16

At the 8-9K level, it should have already been showing on weather radar, especially if it was a building TS, so you have had additional lead time beyond the 10 minutes. Probably more like 20 - 30 minutes and enough to give it a wide berth.

I agree, though the real-time TFRs also come in very handy, especially this summer with all of the fires. Since you buy XM weather by the month, you could always just subscribe for the times when you have long flights. However, I should warn you that it is addicting.


#17

Allen 0 well- duh - the IFR part did not penetrate the almost 50 year old brain yesterday . . .

I’ve got a 396 and as others have said - the extra tool is addicting. XM seems to have a problem with updating metars however, I can name any number of times their metars are an hour or more out of date when I KNOW the facility is updating. I can sit here at home on the computer and load airnav for gosh sakes and get current wx, yet, when I fly that same airport is 2 hours out of date. I cannot imagine the wx sites have problems sending metars only when I am flying since it happens virtually every time I fly.

The metars are helpful but the wx depiction is more so - I have found the winds aloft to be almost 100% accurate while the stuff we get with the briefings is almost always 5-10 knots off - with poor directions to boot. I had a trip 25 Aug from South Carolina to CT and there was a headwind over NC which was depicted on the Garmin, with a tailwind conversion over perhaps 15-20nm near Newport News - and it happened right there.

Anyway - NOW I understand why the approach was not workable since the Wx was in the way . . .

as for rain you can see through . . . you can’t see through cloud? Im curious since I find most rain showers you cannot see through - if you can go around - thats great - I’d do it too - but what levels were they seeing with the radaR? Did you go back and run the radar loop after you landed to see what was there?

The thing I like about my XM WX is that you see whats going on - and can extrapolate and see how its building. Combining the XM with a storm scope in summer lets you watch the storms build and dissipate. You get lightning before you get the rain. When the lightning stops and the storms start dissipating you then see the rain collapsing and the lightning is gone. Gives you a completely different perspective on aviating with almost real-time weather, combining knowledge of meteorology with a storm scope and a nexrad. You can SEE the next TSRA forming with the storm scope while the radar depiction shows no rain. Then you see the green, yellow and then red pop up as the storm develops.


#18

My work around in my short six years of flying for current metars whether it be ASOS or ATIS is to punch nearest on the 296, go to the weather tab, dial in the nearest weather frequency on my COM 2 with a bearing of my heading and presto, got current weather. So, getting weather below or ahead of my position has never been a problem. During those quiet moments on the frequency, kinda comforting to hear a voice to insure I am not 7600 :smiley:

Rough ride on that trip? Or crossed a frontal boundary?

I have been through rain showers where I could see through, and while hesitant to do so, I have done so without any issues.

For this past weekend’s flight, the echoes were yellow with reds imbedded and no movement detected.

Check out the dodging thunderstorms clip I posted and you will see how intense the storms in the beginning were to my right, and to be honest, I probably was waaaaaay too close, but left wasn’t much of an option either, so I took the shortest path to where I could see terra firma. Further in the clip, you will see the very intense rain shower to the left, but I was in and around lighter rain showers that is seen running up the windscreen. While the video doesn’t show it very well, until I passed the dark cloud, it was raining pretty much the entire clip, and I could see the rain falling from the cloud albeit lighter from the haze so to speak.

Bear with me as I am not familiar with either system intimately, but if you have storm scope, do you need XM for weather radar services? What’s the difference?

Allen


#19

The big differences are that Stormscope gives real time lightning data with no indication of rain, while weather radar gives slightly lagged rain data. Since build-ups can have internal rain (which in the early stages may not come out of the bottom of the cloud much due to heavy updrafts) and no lightning, I find the weather radar to be a better guide to choosing a path, but it is nice to have both in the cockpit.


#20

Based on what you say, I would agree, as if there is lightning, you probably would see the build up to avoid anyway (unless if it’s embedded of course)

One tool I use in my flight planning especially if I am doing local work, such as the practice area or instrument approaches for currency is the composite feature at radar.weather.gov/radar.php?rid= … 11&loop=no

This shows what’s happening in the cloud, which would pick up moisture / rain going up the elevator (updraft).

Base reflectivity on the other hand radar.weather.gov/radar.php?rid= … 11&loop=no is what is coming down the elevator (downdraft) or out of the cloud.

For radar trends, I use radar.weather.gov/radar.php?rid= … 11&loop=no and watch the cell trends based on intensity of rain fall. Benefit of using this is it’s less ground clutter.

Do you have composite available on the weather radar as that probably is more useful then what is falling from the base?

More ground clutter granted, but probably more reflective (literally and figuratively) of what environment you are in or about to fly in.

Allen