Flight planning made easy(er)

May 26, 2010 by Jill W. Tallman

If you have not tried out AOPA’s newly revamped airport directory (aka AOPA Airports), please do so right now. Well, as soon as possible. Because if you don’t, you’re missing out on a great flight-planning tool.

Readers of this blog (all four of you) know I generally use this space to talk about the Fun to Fly Remos. And I will, in a minute. Anyway, the new AOPA Airports is extremely user-friendly. For starters, you don’t have to be logged in to AOPA Online to use it–meaning you don’t have to remember your login and password while you’re away from your regular computer (although you must be logged in to designate favorite airports).

Second, if you’re a visual person like I am, you can’t have too many pictures to help you process information. AOPA Airports does that, giving me not only taxiway diagrams and runway layouts, but also satellite images and sectional snippets.

Third, there’s the awesome weather functionality. I hadn’t really played around with AOPA Airports until a few weeks ago. The Remos needed to come back from Lancaster Airport (KLNS), where she had gone for an oil change and some new tires. She needed to get back to KFDK in time for May 15, the International Learn to Fly Day. A warm front was stalled over the entire area, bringing showers and low ceilings,¬†and the window of opportunity to bring her back was beginning to shrink. (Remember, the Remos is a VFR aircraft. We could get in to LNS via any number of IFR-certified airplanes, but the Remos and I might not get back out.)

The weather improved slightly–but not to my VFR minimums. I started the ritual of checking weather at¬†departure, en route, and destination airports to see if the forecasts were going to hold up and things were indeed getting better. Clicking back and forth between FDK, LNS, Carroll County Regional (KDMW), York (KTHV), and LNS, I got METARs and TAFs for all of those airports, updated continually. Plus, each METAR is tagged to indicate whether the field in question is VFR, MVFR, IFR, or LIFR. And, wind speeds are given numerically and with a little red tetrahedron that shows the direction (more visual stuff!).

Backing up all of this with a telephone weather briefing, Senior Editor Dave Hirschman and I were able to get the Remos back to FDK without a hitch. So, what are you waiting for? Take it for a drive, and tell me what you think in the Comments section below.

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2 Responses to “Flight planning made easy(er)”

  1. Ben Says:

    Let me be the first of your four readers to say that I like it. The new visual features are a big improvement. One of my favorites, though, has to be the printable kneeboard-sized summary of the airport: an incredibly handy tool for flight planning and in-flight reference. The pattern markings and runway summaries are nice, too.

  2. Charlie Trunck Says:

    Absolutely great keep up the good work. the best flight planning tool I have seen.

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