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Pilot's Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge
Weather Theory
Atmospheric Stability

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Pilot's Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge



Table of Contents

Chapter 1, Introduction To Flying
Chapter 2, Aircraft Structure
Chapter 3, Principles of Flight
Chapter 4, Aerodynamics of Flight
Chapter 5, Flight Controls
Chapter 6, Aircraft Systems
Chapter 7, Flight Instruments
Chapter 8, Flight Manuals and Other Documents
Chapter 9, Weight and Balance
Chapter 10, Aircraft Performance
Chapter 11, Weather Theory
Chapter 12, Aviation Weather Services
Chapter 13, Airport Operation
Chapter 14, Airspace
Chapter 15, Navigation
Chapter 16, Aeromedical Factors
Chapter 17, Aeronautical Decision Making




Life cycle of a thunderstorm.
Figure 11-23. Life cycle of a thunderstorm.

It is impossible to fly over thunderstorms in light aircraft.
Severe thunderstorms can punch through the tropopause and
reach staggering heights of 50,000 to 60,000 feet depending
on latitude. Flying under thunderstorms can subject aircraft
to rain, hail, damaging lightning, and violent turbulence.
A good rule of thumb is to circumnavigate thunderstorms
identified as severe or giving an intense radar echo by at
least 20 nautical miles (NM) since hail may fall for miles
outside of the clouds. If flying around a thunderstorm is not
an option, stay on the ground until it passes.

Cloud classification can be further broken down into specific
cloud types according to the outward appearance and cloud
composition. Knowing these terms can help a pilot identify
visible clouds.

The following is a list of cloud classifications:
• Cumulus—heaped or piled clouds
• Stratus—formed in layers
• Cirrus—ringlets, fibrous clouds, also high level clouds
above 20,000 feet
• Castellanus—common base with separate vertical
development, castle-like
• Lenticularus—lens shaped, formed over mountains in
strong winds
• Nimbus—rain-bearing clouds
• Fracto—ragged or broken
• Alto—meaning high, also middle level clouds existing
at 5,000 to 20,000 feet