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8 Tips For Flying Around Thunderstorms

Summer is in full swing, and so are the thunderstorms. Here are a few tips to keep you safe on your next flight.

1) If you see a thunderstorm with numerous lighting strikes, the updrafts and downdrafts inside it are likely to be extreme. Air moving up and down at thousands of feet-per-minute cause friction, resulting in lightning strikes.

Live from the Flight Deck

2) Even when visibility is good, never fly below thunderstorms. The potential for extreme windshear and downdrafts, like microbursts, is high.

3) The FAA recommends you fly 20 miles or more away from large, severe storms. Hail and severe turbulence can be found several miles away from visible storm cells.

Swayne Martin

4) If you start to encounter turbulence, slow to Va, or your manufacturer's recommended turbulence airspeed.

5) If you find yourself in convective weather with turbulence, focus on keeping the wings level. Slow below Va and accept large altitude and airspeed deviations.


6) Always check convective forecasts and radar reports before you go flying.

Aviation Weather Service

7) If you want to avoid flying through hail, don't fly below the thunderstorm anvil.


8) Looking to get around a thunderstorm ahead of you? Plan on flying around the upwind side, and don't let it get any closer to you.


What are other good tips for flying around thunderstorms? Tell us in the comments below.

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Colin Cutler

Colin is a Boldmethod co-founder, pilot and graphic artist. He's been a flight instructor at the University of North Dakota, an airline pilot on the CRJ-200, and has directed development of numerous commercial and military training systems. You can reach him at

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