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 most 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 must not be ignored and you should be familiar with the pressure and density altitudes and the effect that they have on aircraft performance. Verifying available runway lengths and comparing them 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 your 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 at your leisure.
The basic steps are as follows: route selection, navigation log, weather information, fuel requirements, mass/weight & balance and performance calculations.
Using a navigation app is the new modern way of flying but do not forget the basics should technology fail, personally I fly using a iPad mini but make sure that I have a paper backup, just in case.
A number fo websites provide online, in your browser, flight planning functionality. SkyVector and VFRmap. SkyVector offers even weather layers, briefings, saving and submitting your flightplan and has worldwide VFR and IFR charts, VFRmap is only available in the U.S.
Select your destination airport (airport planning) and obtain aeronautical information from either one below:
Plot the legs/course on the map/sectional or navigation app:
Obtain departure, destination and alternate airport information (from the AIP / Jeppesen).
A current AIP (online), Chart Supplement (Airport/Facility Directory), Jeppesen Airway Manual and the latest NOTAMs are needed to obtain:
From the latest VFR / Sectional charts obtain information relating to:
Fill out your preferred navigation flight log:
Some miscellaneous items:
Review any takeoff and landing distance performance from the aircraft flight manual. In case of aircraft powered by two or more engines: re-check the engine inoperative procedures and one engine inoperative performance data.
Obtain an ICAO Flight Plan (this one is active, fill in online and print it out), or a FAA Flight Plan (not in use anymore, kept here for historical purposes), its the same as for a certified aircraft. Make sure you check the weight and balance before you go.Written by EAI.