Weird Winds

Surprises lurk. Sometimes it's good not to be flying a paramotor

Last night (Sun, Aug 3, 2008 9pm or so) I was sitting at Dallas Love's gate 6, prepping for my next flight. We had just landed uneventfully under clear skies with light winds (max of 8 mph) and there was no ugly weather nearby, at least that we were concerned with. The aviation forecast was good, too, calling for steady, light winds and clear skies all night long.

Then, 10 minutes before pushing back, with the brakes set, the plane started rocking around.

At first I thought it was from another jet powering its way out. Not so. Looking around we could see whipping flags, blowing dust and debris racing across the ramp. That doesn't come from one airplane. Where was that from? I called ground control and asked. They said winds had suddenly increased to 25 mph with gusts over 40 mph--a sudden blow that had no warning and built up within only a few minutes. I asked if they had any weather nearby and he said the closest activity was a rain cell 40 miles south. FORTY MILES!

Just goes to show that yes, we may get away with flying near towering cumulus and even thunderstorms most of the time, but not always. I would not have wanted to be flying a paramotor when that gust front came through.

It's a powerful reminder to me, personally, to make sure I give any convective activity plenty of clearance. Admittedly, these things are more powerful in dry, hot climates, but I've had similar experiences even in humid Florida.

Lord willing, I'll endure such surprises only from something weighing over 100 pounds and preferable secured to the ground.


Red means rain just like you find on TV. The above image was from a thunderstorm infested flight through Florida.  In the case of this evening's big wind shift, there was no such image. In fact, we had seen NOTHING on the radar during our arrival 30 minutes prior.

2015 Jeff Goin   Remember: If there's air there, it should be flown in!