There are two types of weather knowledge all pilots need to learn:
1. How to get through the FAA knowledge test and
2. Understanding weather, utilizing modern weather resources, and correlating these to your specific flight plans to fly safe.
Looking at the FAA Knowledge test and the FAA resources, the FAA does a pretty good job of describing the basics of weather theory for pilots. This is the same as it has been for years. Unfortunately, these are only some of the questions on the FAA knowledge test. Some of the other questions about weather services, cover old technology left over from the teletypes used before we had computers. All this decoding of TAF’s and METAR’s is a waste of time, energy and relevant questions that could be put on the knowledge test that would be applicable to technology used today. The FAA has updated their technology but some of the knowledge test questions need to be updated to modern weather resources. The FAA knows these questions need to be updated but as usual, their excuse is time/budget/priorities to update. Even the text winds aloft forecasts: http://aviationweather.gov/products/nws/winds/, which I think are one of the most important FAA resources for flying, especially in the mountains, are now graphic with better understanding of the winds aloft longer longer and shorter time intervals: http://aviationweather.gov/adds/winds/.
On the FAA aviation weather website the TAF and METER now have an option to decode the “FAA precomputer deciphering weather services” by adding translated: http://aviationweather.gov/adds/metars/.
If you really are into decoding, watch “Enigma”, a great movie of decoding during WW2. If you miss a couple of questions on the FAA knowledge test regarding weather decoding services, do not sweat it. I feel these are some of the most worthless and irrelevant questions to waste your time. When I am doing a checkride, I like to see the sport pilot applicant able to use the modern resources rather than being a decoding expert using rote memory, the “lowest level of learning” as defined by the FAA.
As far as understanding weather and correlating modern weather resources, this is where pilots need to focus. Yes the FAA resources in the “Pilots Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge” is a very good start for weather theory. The Weather to Fly system is a step beyond to help understand weather better, predict the weather before you fly and compare your flights to the prediction. After 35 years of flying ultralights and light-sport aircraft, this system was developed which is not a decoding tool, but a practical application of weather for pilots flying light sport aircraft. The weather to fly website at www.WeatherToFly.com is laid out to facilitate the process, and the Weather to Fly DVD provides practical information for all pilots about predicting and utilizing weather: weather to fly for sport pilots.
At least look at the video trailer, we now have the DVD so it can be downloaded. This is the only practical weather DVD developed for pilots flying LSA. The Weather to FLY DVD covers many of the FAA test question weather concepts also.
Weather is one of the most important safety concepts for all pilots which we can always learn more. Use the Weather to Fly website to find the best weather resources for doing your own weather analysis to fly.