A Safe Pilot Is Always Learning
Training tips for students and pilots
Inevitably, each time there is a Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) in our area, at least one (and usually more) pilot deviations occur. How can this be prevented? Simple. Call for a weather briefing prior to every flight, whether a 1,000 nautical mile adventure or a few laps around the “patch.”
“But it’s bluebird / CAVU / calm / beautiful out…” This is a common reason pilots don’t call for a weather briefing. Remember, you can’t see TFRs simply by looking outside!
“But I just got a briefing on ForeFlight / DUAT / DUATS…” ForeFlight, DUAT and DUATS all serve as ‘official’ weather briefings, putting the pilot in the system and essentially giving them ‘credit’ for obtaining a briefing. However, it is very easy to overlook TFRs and Notices to Airmen (NOTAMs) due to the sheer amount of data presented. While it has gotten easier as data is organized and presented more logically, it is still very easy to overlook important information pertaining to your flight.
The simple solution is to call 1-800-WX-BRIEF prior to every flight. The call itself is fairly straightforward. However, you should be prepared prior to dialing. When you call, the weather briefer will want to know some key information. You should provide it in the prescribed order, which is what the briefer will expect. For more on how to obtain your preflight weather briefing, please enjoy ‘Preflight Weather Briefings Made Simple’ for free.
A tip is to get your weather briefing online, using ForeFlight, DUAT, or DUATS. Then, call 1-800-WX-BRIEF and request an ‘abbreviated’ briefing. With an abbreviated briefing, you still provide the same key information, but instead of getting a ‘soup to nuts’ briefing, you tell the briefer specifically what information you wish to receive. This should always include adverse conditions (including TFRs) and NOTAMs.
Lockheed Martin, the authorized FAA Flight Service provider, offers helpful tools and customization. You can set up a profile for your weather briefings, have texts sent if conditions change outside of the parameters of your briefing, or even have a text sent if you file and forget to close your flight plan!
Calling for a weather briefing only adds a few minutes to your flight planning. However, it can clarify the weather picture if you’ve already gotten your briefing online, provide NOTAMs in an organized flow and prevent you from violating a TFR.
Have a safe flight!
Be safe, have fun & keep learning!