Online Aviation Flight Planning
I have been using ForeFlight for the flying portion of my trips for what feels like forever, but I must admit, I’ve never used it for aviation flight planning until now. I guess that’s because I had no idea how to do my pre-flight planning with ForeFlight! True confession…there’s a lot I don’t know about ForeFlight. Other pilots show me neat tricks and shortcuts for this or that, but unless I actually use it, I typically forget what I’ve been told. I’ve even heard that there are actual classes on how to get the most out of ForeFlight – I always thought that sounded crazy, but I’m now starting to rethink the whole thing. Technology exists to make our lives safer and easier, so what are we waiting for? Let’s learn this stuff!
Planning a trip on ForeFlight is actually very easy, if you know the steps. Let’s break it down…
|The first step is to enter your departure and destination on the Maps page. This can easily be done by entering the information in the search box at the top right of the page. Another way to enter your route is to tap the “FPL” (flight plan) button, then press “edit”. Doing this will draw your course line on the map, which will instantly give you an overview of the route, including airspace and a quick look at the weather.
|Next, make sure you are planning your route using the correct airplane. If you haven’t already entered your aircraft number and its profile yet, you can set it up by selecting the “more” page, then “Aircraft”. Once it is set up, simply tap the N number for the aircraft you’ll be flying and be amazed as ForeFlight gives you accurate performance calculations and the best route and altitude for the current conditions.
|Now it’s time for my favorite function… choosing a route. I didn’t even know there was a “Routes” button, but there it is – just to the right of the “edit” box. Simply tap on “Routes” and you’ll instantly see a list of the routes that ATC has recently assigned to other aircraft that have flown between your departure and destination. No more research, it’s all right there in front of you. They’re all drawn out on the map too! Just tap on the route that you like, press “select route”, and ForeFlight automatically enters the points in the edit box.
|Finally, choose an altitude for your flight. Your default altitude will already be selected. To change that altitude, just tap on the “Altitude” button on the left side of the “edit” box. You will instantly see the winds aloft and your headwind/tailwind component at each altitude. Tapping on the one you want locks it in for you.
That’s it! Aviation flight planning made easy! In Part II of our series, we’ll discuss how to bring everything together and file your flight plan with just the touch of a button!