This blog is part of a series on Brooke Banglesdorf, Curt and René’s daughter, who moved to Florida in March 2018 to become a full-time student at Flight Safety International in Vero Beach. For more, search “Brooke Banglesdorf” in our blog’s sidebar.
Brooke recently had an interesting experience in the air, dealing with her first heavy rainfall during a flight. The rain was so heavy, in fact, that water was dripping onto her in the cockpit.
“It happens often in Florida, as you can imagine, but usually it’s just sprinkling,” Brooke said. “That was the first time it was heavy enough to be seeping through into the interior of the plane and dripping on me.”
Although it was a new experience, it didn’t stop Brooke from wanting to fly. For her, being in the air rain or shine is almost therapeutic, in a way, as long as she’s the one in charge.
“It’s definitely more difficult to fly in the rain,” Brooke said, “but I’m not, like, scared of flying. The only time I’m scared is if I’m in the back seat and I’m not in control. For me, when I’m flying, I’m happy. I’m at peace whether it’s good weather or bad weather, just because I really enjoy doing it. It’s just so much fun. I don’t have to think about crazy, hectic things. Maybe it’s just something that I’ve prayed about that God has blessed me with, that I’d find peace while I’m in the air. That’s what kind of brought me in and made me think this is my calling.”
While a little rain won’t hurt anybody, Brooke’s been learning what conditions she is and isn’t allowed to fly in. Part of her studies are on the differences between a SIGMET (Significant Meteorological Information) and a Convective SIGMET. A SIGMET is defined as a weather advisory that contains meteorological information concerning the safety of all aircraft, which Brooke said is typically a sign of light rain or other minor weather.
A Convective SIGMET, on the other hand, is issued “for an area of embedded thunderstorms, a line of thunderstorms, thunderstorms greater than or equal to VIP level 4 affecting 40% or more of an area at least 3000 square miles, and severe surface weather including surface winds greater than or equal to 50 knots, hail at the surface greater than or equal to 3/4 inches in diameter, and tornadoes,” according to aviationweather.gov.
“A Convective SIGMET is when you’re dealing with lightning or hail, something that can ultimately damage the airplane,” Brooke said. “Technically, you can’t always fly, depending on how close they are to the airport or your vicinity.”
One of the hardest parts about dealing with weather, Brooke said, is that it can change so rapidly. If her pre-flight is being done an hour before takeoff, the weather is likely to change by the time she’s in the air.
“During the pre-flight, it can be an hour before your flight, sometimes hours before when you’re writing all this down,” Brooke said. “You’ve got to constantly be checking it, even after you write it down. You’re making sure it didn’t change much, nothing’s going to be affected.”
As of right now, Brooke need only be concerned about the weather in Vero Beach, but she’s learning every day how to prepare for cross-country flights that will require her to be aware of weather patterns throughout the country.