I know I know, you’ve read articles like this before but have you heard of and used Dark Sky for flight planning? Aviation apps and iPads are making flight planning easier than ever. While there are hundreds of apps to chose from, these three apps are “musts” for any private pilot hoping to capitalize on quality, reliable applications for the paperless cockpit.
These are my top three flight planning apps that are always in my cockpit:
My step one for paperless flight planning
Dark Sky is my go-to app before EVERY flight. A few days before a trip I start looking at the predictions for the temperature, wind & precipitation. It is spot on 95% of the time for me. It really helps when we are flying the King Air to an airport that doesn’t have de-ice capabilities in the wintertime so we can make an airport change days ahead of time instead of the morning of.
My step two for paperless flight planning
Fltplan is the most accurate flight planning you can get, I’ve had trips where I was within a half-gallon of what the flight was planned for. My favorite feature is the slick navlog produced for every flight that includes the important airport info you need. I print the navlog for every flight and use it in the cockpit.
It has prebuilt aircraft profiles for airplanes ranging from the Cessna 150 to the Boeing 737! You can file brief and view charts for FREE but, it doesn’t flow as well as Foreflight for flight planning. If you fly internationally they have a built-in EAPIS product for a fee and offer trip support.
My step three for paperless flight planning
I personally don’t file on Foreflight ( You Can), but if I was only flying one airplane having the flight plan notifications would be incredible in the Foreflight app. From Alaska to Hawaii to Florida all your high, low, approach and sectional charts are available for download. Foreflight did something real cool and took all the clutter from a sectional chart and made their own version called an aeronautical chart which you can use independently or overly on the sectional, low and high charts.
Every airport is clickable with the info associated, for airports that report whether you can view the metar, taf and MOS forecast which is similar to Dark Sky’s predictions. I almost forgot the BEST part of Foreflight! Georeferenced charts! If you have a GPS chip built into your iPad you can see your location on the en route, approach and taxi charts! It will cost a little more money but it’s totally worth it.
You’ll need one of these too to power the chip…