Where is the Best Weather for Flight Training (In the United States)

Weather is a major factor in the ability for pilots to safely and successfully conduct flights. It is the same for pilots seeking training. We all know that cancelling training flights slows down training, can result in increased training costs, and if nothing else, can just be really frustrating for a pilot working to get a rating or certificate completed.

Without a doubt, some places naturally have better weather than others. I have had many people ask me over the years where they should go to get training and I didn’t really have an answer for them when they further queried about where the weather was best for flight training. So I got curious, where should a pilot go to minimize the effect of weather on their training schedule? The aviation dork in me just knew there was a way I could break this down to a spreadsheet and math to get a solid answer on which I could hang my hat for recommending where the best training weather exists.

Fortunately, the NOAA (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) at their NCDC (National Climatic Data Center) which is a part of the NESDIS (National Environmental Satellite, Data and Information Service) [are you tired or acronyms yet?] compiles all the weather reports we commonly refer to as METARs in aviation and archives them. You can find access to this at http://www7.ncdc.noaa.gov/CDO/cdopoemain.cmd?datasetabbv=DS3505&countryabbv=&georegionabbv=&resolution=40 if you want, but I already did the hard part for you , I compared the data that is available for a period of time.

To compare the weather, I selected 44 locations around the country that either represented major regions, were larger metropolitan areas, or were places I knew that there were high densities of flight training and people would want to know about. Sorry if your home airport wasn’t selected, but I had to cut off the data compiling somewhere before my eyes crossed and my spreadsheet program got overwhelmed. Oh, I also made sure to pick places for which a reliable period of time for reports was available that compared with other locations. In this case, I compared every METAR report that had a full report (winds, ceiling, visibility, etc) from January 1, 2010 through December 31, 2014. A full 5 years of METARS for each location. Continue reading