VFR Flight Planning, II
Preflight planning is a very important element of any flight and especially so when going on a cross country flight. There are a number of items to be done in preparation for a VFR cross country in such a way that nothing is overlooked and the intended flight is done as safely as possible.
The important parts of preflight planning involve checking flight information publications, aviation weather reports and determining airplane performance, including the computation of weight and balance and fuel requirements. The influence of altitude, temperature and wind should not be ignored and you should be familiar with the pressure and density altitudes and the effect that they have on aircraft performance. Check the runway length and compare that to your takeoff requirements and the rotational and initial climb speeds recommended in your airplane's manual (POH).
The checklists presented here can be used as a guide for this phase of preflight planning and we have divided it into a couple of sections. Part one is what we call the preliminary preflight phase which can be done at any time.
This part is the weather preflight and is completed on the day the flight will actually take place.
The weather pre-flight items that have to be completed on the day of the flight are listed below.
When requesting weather information from a weather office be prepared to provide the following information:
- Type of aircraft and flight, VFR or IFR
- Departure airport and time and or date, mention if local or on UTC time
- Intended route, Altitude and Speed
- Destination airport and if applicable: time of return
- Any other pertinent info about your flight (previous received WX info, endurance, etc etc)
It sure makes a difference for the aviation weather briefer to know if you fly with a C-150 or a King Air C-90, or even heavier iron, in terms of any reported or forecasted turbulence and its effect on your flight.
Be sure to get at least the following meteorological reports:
- Current and Forecast conditions, destination and departure airport, TAF / METAR
- Winds aloft forecast, espcially in mountain areas
- Any pilot reports and NOTAMs
- Any other important weather data: AIRMET, SIGMET etc
Use this to visualize an image in your memory of the weather along your route and, most importantly, keep obtaining updated reports from ATIS, FIS or even tower.
During winter flying takes on a new meaning. Getting lost due to white out in mountain areas is easy and an emergency landing could end up badly. Even when refueling the windchill factor is going to be a serious issue, read flying in winter conditions for more info. Check the table to the right for greater detail on windchill.
The following document contains tips for applying weather information during the trip.
Awesome sceneries for you and your passengers but not without danger. Even relatively light winds can create turbulence too much to handle for the aircraft possibly resulting in a disaster. Our section mountain flying has more tips on this. Be sure to read it.