Spring, and the start of flying season for many pilots, is only weeks away. It's so close, you can almost hear your airplane's engine rev after an easy start (without preheating) and taste your first $100 hamburger of the season. Those thoughts help to alleviate the pain of being grounded while rain or snowstorms rage outside.
Since spring hasn't quite made its debut and you may still be stuck inside, now is the perfect time to refresh your piloting skills and learn about tools available to ease your first flight of the season. AOPA's online weather, provided by Meteorlogix, gives AOPA members free access to U.S. satellite and radar imagery, surface forecasts, upper air winds aloft, textual weather, and more.
The weather maps and textual data on AOPA Online should look familiar - that's because Meteorlogix is also a popular weather provider for FBOs.
View satellite and radar images of the entire continental United States or your region of the country. The maps are updated every hour, and clicking on the image will loop the weather, allowing you to watch its track.
If you just want a quick check of the winds aloft and at your airport to decide whether to fly, pull up an aviation routine meteorological report (METAR) or terminal aerodrome forecast (TAF) for your airport, or one nearby. Simply enter your airport's identifier, preceded by a "k." You can receive data for up to 12 airports. To check the winds at altitude, visit the upper air winds aloft page, where you can get wind information starting at 5,000 feet.
Check the regional weekend weather for a quick overview of forecast flying conditions to help you choose the most promising fly-in destination. You can access it through the main weather page, or receive it every Friday by personalizing your AOPA ePilot electronic newsletter content. ( Subscribe to or personalize your ePilot content.)
Answers to those complicated weather questions or that ongoing weather theory debate at your airport also can be found through the weather page. E-mail questions to meteorologists at Meteorlogix. Other resources at your disposal include AOPA Pilot's "Wx Watch" column, weather-related subject reports, and Safety Advisors from the AOPA Air Safety Foundation.
You'll need your AOPA Online username and password to log in to the weather. If you have forgotten your log-in information or need to create an account, visit the AOPA members-only login frequently asked questions page.
Of course, you can always contact the technical specialists at the AOPA Pilot Information Center to assist you with logging in or learning all of the features associated with AOPA's online weather. Specialists are available weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern time by calling 800/USA-AOPA, or e-mail to [email protected].
March 11, 2005