How the foggy weather has impacted helicopter flights

ST. LOUIS – The fog is hazardous in many ways, both on the road and in the air.

One pilot with ARCH Air Medical Transport helicopters explained how the weather impacts their operations.

We’re still IFR here at the airport. St. Louis is 500-foot ceilings, so we’re going to decline as well. First possibility is looking around 6 a.m. tomorrow,” TJ McNelis, a pilot with Air Methods, said.

McNelis said that there are two sets of rules: VFR, or visual flight rules, and IFR, or instrument flight rules.

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When there’s fog, low ceilings, or even heavy precipitation limiting visibility, it’s a no-go for flights.

“When you hop on a commercial airliner, all those guys are flying IFR since we’re operating close to the ground, we’ve got to be able to see where we’re going,” he said.

These types of days become more impactful during the transitional seasons of fall and spring, when the temperature and dewpoint spread tend to get closer together and we get more visual moisture. This winter has been particularly rough compared to past years, according to McNelis.

“This winter has definitely been unseasonably nasty when it comes to weather. We’ve been shut down, been unflyable for a lot of days compared to usual, McNelis said.

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