MAY 16, 2008: Joe Pehosky
Private Pilot , Airplane, SEL
Instructor: John Thompson, MCFI
Designated Pilot Examiner: Sherwood Williams
Joe Pehosky passed his FAA Private Pilot practical test with Sherwin “Woody” Williams. ” I’m currently finishing up an atmospheric science major at UW-Milwaukee. Flying has been something I’ve considered learning for a real long time, until I actually started training last summer. It’s been a great experience and I can’t wait to take some of my friends up. I’m planning on training for the instrument rating right away this summer, and possibly getting checked out in a Cessna down in Milwaukee. Flying has been the greatest thing I’ve ever done, and I’m planning to keep accumulating more ratings and hours, and see where it takes me.”
June 30, 2009: Hey Wanda and John. I’ve been trying to get around to letting you know what I’ve been up to. I graduated in May from UW Milwaukee after about 5 years in school. I got a position on a cloud seeding project for rain enhancement and hail suppression in North Dakota. With the title Intern Radar Meteorologist, I ended up taking about a 60% pay cut from my warehouse job, but if I were to come back next year as a Radar Meteorologist, I would actually make a living wage. For now, the job is pretty cool.
This is a pretty contentious thing we’re doing here; it’s is one of only a handful of operational cloud seeding projects in the U.S, and lots of people don’t like us messing with the weather. This project
has been ongoing every summer since the 1950s, and studies have shown our district has significantly less hail damage. In fact, hail insurance rates here are much lower due to our success. We have two planes based here, a Cessna 340 used for seeding at the tops of clouds and occasionally at base, and a Seneca for seeding at the base. Planes get Silver Iodide into the clouds by burning a silver iodide/acetone solution, or using a “flare” (basically a roman candle filled with silver iodide) for a more concentrated delivery. One of our aircraft is equipped for high altitude operations, and at high altitudes he uses what are basically large shotgun shells mounted on the bottom of the plane to deliver AgI into the top of developing towers (due to the lack of oxygen, the other methods aren’t reliable)…
… I figure this is one of the most hands on jobs you can get in the meteorology field, on par with storm chasing. But I’m still stuck on the ground while the pilots get to have a lot of fun. The radar met here appreciates being in an air conditioned office while the pilots get turbulence, but I’m sort of thinking they have the good job. I’m going to try to get out of this career as fast as I can, probably getting my commercial license somehow and coming back on project as a pilot. Right now I’m just looking for something to do this winter, because I’m definitely not going back to school.