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Flight Planning Links for Students

Here are 10 favorite links used for normal flight planning. Some are local only but ALL are used for X-country. Pilots develop their own favorites but this narrative gives an example of how and why you want to review this information before every flight, even a training flight. 


 
FOR JUST A LOCAL FLIGHT:  (Check all of these before leaving the house)
 

WEATHER UNDERGROUND

Classic Weather Underground. Includes the latest aviation status at Florence, or wherever you choose to review. It gives you ceiling, wind, and flight rules such as VFR, MVFR, IFR or LIFR as well as a non-aviation forecast for day and night by day.

CHARLOTTE SECTIONAL

Then look at Skyvector for the Charlotte sectional chart. You can move in and out quickly to see the entire Carolinas at once. Make sure you have checked the "weather" box at the top of the screen so ALL METAR readings are shown as color codes. A big help for region wide weather at a glance.  Reading the raw METAR takes some practice but here is a great resource;  METAR EXPLANATIONS can be found here.

TFRs Live and Planned

Check TFR's for the states you'll be flying in today. Check even for local flight. Check it right before leaving for the airport. Violating a TFR is serious!

NOTAMS

Check all NOTAMS up to the minute. Again, one final check before going out the door. For a local flight use the "Radius" search. Keep it at a 20 mi radius of KFLO. For a flight to another airport use the "Flight Path Search" by entering KFLO and the destination, like KFAY for instance. NOTAMS tell you a bunch about each airport, what's closed today, not working, detours on the ground, radio freqs out, etc.

NOTAM Contractions explained

NOTAM contraction explanations. Sometimes it's hard to read the NOTAMS without a cheat sheet, which is what this link is.

Weight & Balance - Interactive

You will have to learn how to do manual Weight and Balance calculations. Do everything them by hand. You will have to demonstrate this skill to the FAA flight examiner. More important, if your W&B is outside the envelope, you can easily DIE. How's that for motivation! You may see 4 seats in N517DL but its seldom you can have 4 people in the plane unless the back seat folks are small and you have less than full tanks. This application lets you play with the numbers until you see if you can safely fly. Don't mess around with W&B. Even a commercial jetliner does such a calculation before every take off.

 
FOR LOCAL AND ALL FLIGHTS TO ANOTHER AIRPORT OR AREA,   ADD THESE ADDITIONAL LINKS
AOPA airport directory. Learn all about your destination airport. Runways, freqs, services, special rules about pattern work. You might consider printing the information and taking it with you along with your sectional chart and Navlog for the trip that will include current weather built in by the computer. Link below for the AOPA NAVLOG flight planner and where it is found.
MOA current and planned status. We have lots of MOA's in the Southeast. It's helpful knowing when they are "cold" so you can relax somewhat or "Hot" where your eyeballs need to be glued to the glass.
AOPA flight planner version 2. You can do all rough flight planning Skyvector first, just to see rough estimates of times, restricted air space, etc. Then  key in your waypoints on the AOPA flight planner. You can even store a route you're thinking of using. At 12 hours from takeoff the Nav Log in the AOPA flight planner merges with Federal weather projections, especially the winds aloft forecast. You might now see that it will take 1:45 to get somewhere and 40 minutes to get back. Looking closely at the log, it has adjusted your ground speed based on forecast winds aloft. If also gives you adjusted compass headings to get you to your waypoints.
AOPA weather. A favorite future weather tool.
 

WELL, that's it for a flight to another airport, and most of this is used for a local flight. Consider keeping all the links in a special folder on your computer desktop.  Name that folder something akin to "CHECK BEFORE I FLY"

 

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