FAA regulations prohibit flying into clouds. Before you fly you need to know the cloud deck. Many airports have automated aviation weather reporting available through a telephone. You call the number and you hear an automated report. Take your wireless telephone to the field.

You can find an ASOS (Automated Surface Observing System) telephone number by finding the airport closest to the launch field with an ASOS facility.

Specify the area that you are interested in. If you want to use longitude and latitude you can get that data through Google Maps or another mapping services.

Select an airport from the list of airports close to the flying field, and look through the data for “ASOS”. If it doesn’t exist then select another airport. If a telephone number is provided then that number provides automated reports. For example:

WX ASOS: PHONE 414-769-7161

That’s the number for Milwaukee, WI. The weather report will include data like this:

Broken 4400 which means Broken clouds at 4400’ Scattered 6000 which means Scattered clouds at 6000’

The sky can have multiple cloud decks.

To interpret the codes see the ASOS User’s Guide (PDF).

You can also get a weather report through aviationweather.gov.

Submitted by: Dean A. Roth