Guest post by Private Pilot, Kyle Grim
Every pilot becomes an amateur weatherperson as soon as their primary instructor signs off on their ability to fly solo. Although weather is not one of the things that an aviator can control, it’s one of the defining factors which determines the outcome of a pilot’s day, even if they’ll spend it wheels down. During my time as a pilot I have found that knowing the METAR flight category, wind speed, ceiling and visibility was usually best predictor of my mood for any specific day.
Of course, that’s because I’ve been friends with the best A&P’s who have kept my bolts tight and the oil on the inside, and I’ve had the best peace of mind by insuring through Aviation Insurance Resources (AIR) who protects me against everything else beyond the pre-flight. I am an engineer by trade so it makes sense that I enjoy working on experimental amateur built aircraft, which can be expensive to insure. AIR worked hard for me to find excellent coverage at a great price for both my Rans S-7 and my Vans RV-4 aircraft; ensuring that my hard work and bottom line are protected from whatever may come our way.
My machine is flight ready, I am protected from uncertainty, and every part of me wishes I was above. How do I know if I should peel my eyes off my work computer and get to the airport?! I did what any engineer would do: I built a widget.
My little gizmo sits on your desk, grabs your local METAR off aviationweather.gov, crunches the flight conditions against your personal minimums, assisting in your go or no-go decision. It’s a fun thing to watch as weather moves through your local area, switching from green (VFR), blue (MVFR), red (IFR) and pink (LIFR), while showing YES or NO. Students can set their instructor’s solo minimums so they can stare at it waiting to switch off “NO” like a kid on Christmas while veteran ATP’s can hook it up so it says “YES” in more angry colors. Status lights on the side show you why the device is telling you that your Saturday is better spent kicking tires than spinning props.
The whole thing is built on top of a custom designed printed circuit board inside a 3D printed case, CNC machined acrylic panels and a tiny WiFi enabled microcontroller running C++ under the hood, all of it designed and built in my basement in Maryland. If you want to learn how to do projects like this yourself, head to adafruit.com for kits and tutorials. They are a fantastic company and I can’t recommend them enough. If you’d rather just get one of these without re-inventing the airfoil, send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I’ll be happy to send you one so you know if you should stop reading this blog and head out to the airport!
Aviation Insurance Resources (AIR) is a company of pilots protecting pilots. We have Kyle’s weather gizmo for a quick and easy way to begin our pre-flight work. We thank Kyle for taking the time to share his experience with AIR and love hearing the innovative ways our customers take to the skies. We would love to hear your story and assist you with your aviation insurance needs! Call us today at 301-682-6200 or visit us online at air-pros.com!