AOPA Airports offers weather widget, enhancements
AOPA Airports, the next generation of the AOPA online airport directory, is the product of a complete rethinking of what an airport directory should be and the services it should provide. Among these services is access to important information wherever it is needed--including on other sites.
Many aviation-related websites offer some type of weather service as a component, from weekend outlooks to ADDS/NOAA java applications. AOPA Airports reports METARs and TAFs (and provides a link to our more robust, members-only weather application). Website managers can embed this exclusive AOPA Airports METAR TAF window on their own sites. The widget is customizable--in size and reporting station search radius. It also offers a link back to the selected facility on AOPA Airports. Just click on the “embed this” link for instructions and the code to paste into your website.
Based on pilot feedback, the METAR TAF window was designed to highlight important information about current and forecast conditions at or near an airport. The default setting displays reports in plain language. If you prefer raw text, uncheck the plain language option. With plain language checked, visual cues are included to help quickly assess conditions. VFR is highlighted in green. MVFR in blue, and IFR in red. If wind speed or gusts exceed 20 knots, numbers are highlighted in gold. If they exceed 30 knots, they are highlighted in red. This color scheme is also used to highlight diminishing visibility and low ceilings.
The new directory has received accolades from member and non-member pilots alike since its launch during Sun ’n Fun. Along with their compliments and congratulations, pilots have also offered constructive criticism (and even a few bug reports). A hallmark of AOPA Airports and its supporting technology is the ease with which changes can be made. So far, about a dozen members have commented on the wind arrow in the METAR TAF window, asking “Why does the windsock point in the wrong direction?” In coming days, you will see an improved indicator next to the numerical wind data, a triangle with a wider base, one less likely to be confused with the ubiquitous windsock.
There are even bigger changes in store, but for the next several months, the development team will focus on responding to users’ comments. AOPA already has a long list of enhancements, and items are being checked off daily. So what’s the next big thing? Just in time for AirVenture, you’ll see some major enhancements to the flight planner, including closer integration with AOPA Airports. Keep your comments coming. Praise is nice, but great ideas are even better!
April 29, 2010