Convective Turbulence Data Collection Program (TCAD 1999)


The armored T-28 deployed to Ft. Collins-Loveland Airport (FNL), for 4 weeks in June, 1999, to join two other aircraft and the two S-band radars operated by the CSU-CHILL Radar Facility for coordinated thunderstorm penetrations.  The other two aircraft, a Convair 580 operated by Allied Signal/Honeywell, and a Rockwell Sabreliner operated by Rockwell-Collins, carried prototype Doppler airborne weather avoidance radars. In a typical mission, the T-28 would lead a flight of 3, with the other two aircraft in-trail, on penetrations of convective clouds.  The radars from the trailing aircraft scanned the region in which the T-28 was flying.  Accelerometer and other performance data from the T-28 is used to estimate the severity of turbulence, and  forms the basis for improving the algorithms for estimation of turbulence intensity from the returns received by the airborne radars.

In addition, these data will be used for comparison with turbulence diagnosed from model simulation of these convective clouds, in order to improve the capabilities of these models to give reliable indications of location and intensity of turbulence associated with convective storms.

The project was very successful, with operations by one or more aircraft on 16 of 24 possible days, including multiple operations involving all 3 aircraft on one day. The CSU-CHILL and Pawnee S-band Doppler radars, both operated by the CSU-CHILL radar facility, were used to provide guidance for the aircraft missions, as well as to record dual-Doppler and multiparameter radar data for later use in guiding the model simulations.  The Research Applications Program of the National Center for Atmospheric Research provided forecasting and nowcasting, a daily radiosonde profile, and subsequently will carry out analysis of the T-28 data and will perform the model simulations.

Research Flights


  • Environmental News Network Daily News, 1999: Scientists seek ways to avoid turbulence. 3pp.

  • Kessinger, Cathy, R. Sharman, L. Cornman, C. Wade, I. Clark, W. Bresley, R. Robertson, A. and Detwiler, P. Kennedy, 1999: Experimental Objectives for the Characterization and Detection of Convective Turbulence. 12 pp.

  • Participation by the SDSM&T Armored T-28 Storm-Penetrating Aircraft in the Turbulence Characterization and Detection Program(IAS Report R-99-04)

  • Sharman, R., L. Cornman, J. Williams, S. Koch, and W. Moninger, 2006: The FAA AWRP Turbulence PDT. 22 pp.

  • Data Access

    TCAD 1999 Data Access

    Other Project Web Pages


    Operations Summary

    CHILL Radar