Photos of the Week: Playing It Safe

Aviation safeguards protect flights from severe weather

By BlueSkyStaff

Published April 4, 2022

Read Time: 2 mins


In aviation, like many other things in life, there is always one uncontrollable variable: the weather.

While planes can fly through storms, it’s not ideal. Fortunately, planes and pilots rely on many aids and practices to avoid bad weather.

Aircraft are equipped with advanced radar systems that detect storm activity, and pilots are also guided by air traffic control to alternate routes away from storms. In addition, pilots get up-to-date reports from other flights indicating where turbulence may be ahead on their route.

However, sometimes flights will need to divert to an alternate airfield to fuel up and wait out the weather taking place at their destination. While inconvenient, a diversion is sometimes necessary for the safety of all passengers and crew.

Pittsburgh International Airport is geographically close to major East Coast gateways, such as New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport and Washington-Dulles International Airport. So when weather impacts those areas, PIT is a popular haven for incoming diverted flights.

Ryan McManus caught this UPS Boeing 747-8 Freighter visiting PIT. One of the largest cargo planes in the world, the aircraft was flying from Cologne, Germany, to Philadelphia when storms brought the aircraft to PIT. The aircraft refueled and waited out the weather before departing for its short hop across the Keystone State.

Most of the time, however, flights can deviate or fly right over a storm without harm. And sometimes that route offers an amazing view from the window, as Taylor Franks documented while flying aboard a Southwest 737 during a trip from New Hampshire to Raleigh, N.C.

Thanks, Ryan and Taylor!

Our readers continue to pass along shots of unique aircraft, international airports, historical events, gorgeous views and even family vacation photos for this feature. We love them! Keep them coming—you can click here for submission guidelines.

A view out the window of a Southwest 737 cruising past weather clouds below. (Photo submitted by Taylor Franks)

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