Forecasted Weather

The weather forecasters at Capodichino told the Board of Enquiry that initially they did their best to dissuade the pilots from making this flight during several hours of examination and debate over the weather conditions. In a later statement, Captain Steigner then said that he became convinced that the calm professionalism shown by the pilots would allow them to successfully conclude the flight. One must assume that Captain Steigner believed that the Flight Plan route would be followed.

In their testimonies, both Captain Steigner, and M/Sergeant Kable the Capodichino weather experts, affirm and demonstrate that they had done their very best to ascertain the true weather conditions from a variety of sources, including other aircrew and the weather personnel in Pisa. They confirm that all routes Northward of Naples were going to be difficult. The logic of the higher altitude - longer distance flight mentioned by Colonel Upham is certainly viable, provided the B-17 could climb high enough, considering the threat of icing en route. Captain Steigner is careful to point out the professional approach to the planning manifested by the pilots, including the choice of the high-level route, although is obviously on the losing end of the argument due to their rank and status as fliers. The carefully-worded affirmation “. . .as much as is permitted of weather personnel...“ understandably emphasizes his disappointment that he could not insist they postpone the flight, being out-ranked and not being a pilot himself. The inclusion of M/Sgt Kable’s comments in Captain Steigner’s own testimony underlines the impression that the weather officer was in complete agreement with his subordinate.

The choice of words used to describe the weather conditions is also significant. Both Steigner and Kable were professional meteorology experts, and would almost certainly be accustomed to using the “official” terminology as a matter of routine. In the meteorology world, there are five words which are used in a scalar fashion to describe conditions. These are: None; Light; Moderate; Intense; Severe. One word frequently used in the weather narratives is “severe” – the worst conditions which could be expressed with a weather man’s standard lexicon.

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