Spinning the E6B’s wheel and sliding a plotter across the sectional chart, you’re about to flip through the pages of AOPA’s Airport Directory to find the best fuel stops en route. Clear sky is beckoning—but you still need to aggregate all that important information, including a weather briefing, airport information, and FBO details into your navlog. That process takes time. Is there no faster, easier way?
You bet there is. AOPA has combined its popular flight planning tools—AOPA’s online weather charts and AOPA’s Airport Directory Online—to power the brand-new AOPA Internet Flight Planner (AIFP). AOPA’s Real-Time Flight Planner will be retired in January. Flight planning with AIFP is powerful, dependable, and fun. You’ll be airborne in no time. Why?
If that does not whet your appetite to use the power of AIFP for every flight, here are some additional nifty nuggets. For example, use the zoom bar—like you might be accustomed to with Google maps—to get up-close details. And of course you can still mouse the cursor over the chart to zoom in using the marquee zoom mode, which lets you select and enlarge a rectangular area of the chart. But a real handy trick in the flight planner’s pan mode is the ability to drag the chart up, down, or sideways to see areas to the north, south, east, and west. You might discover a weather system moving closer to your route that you had not noticed earlier. This functionality allows you to orient the bigger picture before launching into the air.
Don’t like flying through complex airspace? Worried about wandering into temporary flight restriction areas or adverse weather along the route? Simply double-click on an airport or navaid to circumnavigate such pesky areas—the waypoint is instantly added to your route, navlog, and flight plan.
A wonderful routing tool—a small pop-up floating window that shows your route, distance, and estimated time en route—allows you to amend your route swiftly with a couple of mouse clicks. Just drag and drop waypoints to insert them anywhere in the route, without going back to the chart, navlog, or flight plan—these will be instantly updated from the routing tool.
Get used to right-clicking the chart to see information in greater detail, including airspace descriptions as well as the effective dates and times for TFRs and notams (both for PC and Mac users). Did we mention AOPA’s Airport Directory and fuel prices? Overlay the airport directory and, voilà, airport and fuel pump symbols will pop up along your route. When you click on an airport icon, drill down to airport, chart, and weather details. When you click on the fuel pump it shows the airport’s lowest fuel prices at a glance.
You might want more detailed chart depictions such as low-altitude Victor airways (VOR to VOR), IFR en route intersections, terminal airspace fixes, obstacles, state borders, roads and railroads (if you’re a dead-reckoning kind of pilot), air route traffic control center boundaries, and special and restricted airspace areas. Just click on the chart overlays you wish to add.
Are you getting overloaded with information? De-clutter the view by clicking off the overlays to show just as much or as little as you wish to see. Another great feature is the ability to open and close or drag and drop floating information panels, as you need them. The panels move wherever you wish them to appear, and when you click and hold down the mouse they turn transparent, revealing chart detail beneath.
Need help? An extensive help file with images and short audio snippets is available to assist your AIFP navigation. Not that you’d ever need help—this flight planner is really user-friendly.
But don’t take our word for it. Go online, take a moment to set up your pilot and aircraft profiles, and make flight planning a cinch—every time.
E-mail the author at [email protected]