Probably the best way is to go instruct some instrument students for a while. You really do learn alot by teaching. I know this wasn't one of the choices you listed, but in my opinion it's the best way. You don't want to do too much learning while you are flying freight. You want to have a good idea of what is going on by that point. In most cases you are all by yourself and you are the one that makes all decisions. One bad decision could cost quite a bit of money or even your life.
If you do go the part 91, corporate I would assume, or part 121 you could get lucky and get a captain with lots of great experience that enjoys sharing what he/she's learned with you. You can learn quite a bit from these pilots, but know that not all pilots are like this. Again they do expect that you have some knowledge of weather when you are hired at any of these types of places.
I figure that I will be teaching for at least a couple of years full time and then after that part time if time allows. I was thinking long term here. It wasn't mean to be a debate on whether I was qualified to do these jobs at this point. Thanks for the info.
I agree with the above. Take it easy at first. Fly in some soft IFR with your students where you are reasonably assured of completing an approach. Your students will be flying so you can learn first-hand about actual IMC without having to worry too much about flying the airplane. Ideally, the best IMC is in warmer climates where you can fly in warm clouds and avoid icing (you want to avoid icing in any conditions that your airplane can't handle!).
Good idea, too, to stay on the gauges with your student while in actual.
By the time you move on from instructing you will be expected to have experience in the weather in which you will be flying. In other words, real-world experience.
In that case just learn along with your students, don't stop studying, and stay proficient. A couple years of instructing full time should give you plenty of good experience. As long as you have a good understanding of wx theory by the time you are looking for your next job after instructing you should be fine. You will probably get more experience with weather flying cargo or 121 as opposed to 91. This is somewhat general, but many 91 corporate pilots don't fly nearly as much as a freight pilot or regional pilot would in the same time period. Also, a freight pilot isn't as concerned about "bad" wx as much as a regional pilot or corporate pilot might be. After all they are only flying boxes and don't have to worry about passenger comfort. I think it would really depend on what type of flying you would be doing. The more exposure you have, the more you learn.
You will learn a lot flying as a CFII. It's a good place to start. Cargo is one way, not the smartest way. My first day on the job flying Barons"running checks". The weather was solid thunderstorms with no radar. I scared myself to death. I walked into the office at the end of the day, and my chief pilot asked me, "You do have experience flying in thunderstorms don't you"?
I replied, I do now. I drove home, concerned about how long I might live doing this day after day. I survived and so will you....
Just remember one thing------don't push it too far, and when you do, learn from it and don't do it again...
There is a book published by USA Today. I don't have the title but a lot of people at my flying school have recommended it. It is not an aviation weather book but it explains weather. High Pressure, Low pressure, clouds, winds, storms, etc.
I would have to say that instructing instrument students is still one of my most favorite things to do on the side however sometimes the "best way" to learn about a certain subject cannot be narrowed down to one aspect of flying as I think the case is here-
Flying 135 you contend with quite abit of wx BUT as in any flying job the same holds true so I would have to say that the more "experience" you gain the better well versed one can be in a certain area.....(my opinion ! ! )-
Wx theory-spend some time at one of the NWS offices; they've all the tools to flesh out the theory we were taught as students and can add local nuances of why wx behaves in a particlar fashion which might seem contrary to the general theory. It's their primary craft and the ones who've been at a station for some time have learned that the computer models are not gospel.
Instrument instructing- agree with the other posts that it expands ones own knowledge/understanding so long as one is willing to go get out there IN IT. How many students have gotten their instrument rating with only a handful of actual hours?? Same thing with instructing; one aught be progressive in experiencing more demanding weather.
Over the course of time, all pilots will experience different wx; however I think it widely accepted that freight hounds spend a greater percentage of their flight hours in the soup than other line pilots if for no other reason than short stage lengths within a geographical area that is wx impacted.
Single-Pilot IFR hauling freight in something unable to climb above the weather - i.e. 210, Baron, twin commander - preferably in an area with lots of ice and thunderstorms.
You'll never get this kind of experience teaching your local doctor how to fly instruments, although I agree teaching as CFII helps to build a solid understanding of how the procedures work.
The regional or jet freight route isn't as beneficial because the airplanes operated at those levels make weather flying a piece of cake (great autopilots, heated wings vs. boots, ability to quickly climb over most weather, better ground support systems, and most importantly - a second pilot to split the workload/decision making tasks with).
A two pilot airplane is a great way to build your experience. Just remember if you fly a cargo jet, you will be in the worst weather. The companies expect you to fly into almost any weather and they don't really care about excuses....
This comes from experience..
Instructing instrument students is a good way to learn the fundementals of instrument flying, but rarely does it get you a lot of hard weather experience. In my opinion the place to do that is flying freight. The trick is to find an operator that uses well equipped (radar for tstms, boots for ice,etc.) and maintained equipment. Also if they don't force you to go when it's too bad, (yes there are times even freight planes shouldn't takeoff) that's a bonus. Luckily I was fortunate enough to fly for a carrier like that. I flew in the midwest for two years and saw just about every type of weather imaginable. Before I flew freight I could count the number of approaches I did to minimums on one hand. I feel much safer as an RJ captain having had the experiences I got while flying freight. It was a lot of work and I froze/sweated my rear off most of the time, but it was a blast.