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IFR Fix: Spring trainingIFR Fix: Spring training

Nothing like spring brings pilots out of a long winter’s hibernation. The ever-higher sun melts the morning frost from airplanes that have wintered outdoors, and the gang in the control tower has started its pool to guess the date when the airport’s huge pile of plowed snow will disappear.

The money you allocated to preheating the engine in winter can now be repurposed for regaining currency or instrument proficiency, not to mention a celebratory post-flight repast in the airport café.

Recapturing proficiency involves finding out what has been changing in the local IFR flight environment before your flight day arrives—and the pace of change hasn’t been slowing down. Did your local ground-based navaids survive the winter (and the system-wide transition to GPS?) Has tree-growth adjacent to the airport knocked your favorite LOC/DME BC approach off the list of available instrument approach procedures? Has the local ATC facility published a letter to airmen explaining how to conduct practice approaches in the airspace?

Spend some prep time to make sure you’re up on what’s new, what’s old, and what’s gone from the information resources you depend on for flight planning.

Weather is a great place to start, and the FAA has updated a well-known resource with the catchy title of AC No: 00-45 Aviation Weather Services, presenting it in 2018 as AC No. 0045H, Change 1.

“The objective of this AC is to bring the pilot and operator up-to-date on new and evolving weather information and capabilities to help plan a safe and efficient flight, while also describing the traditional weather products that remain,” it says by way of introduction.

A following paragraph summarizes principal changes. Savvy devotees of  the FAA’s advisory circular series, the Aeronautical Information Manual, and other flight publications know they can cut to the chase without searching key words or flipping pages by spotting the thick black vertical status bars that highlight new or revised content, a research technique far less traumatic than clicking on your old bookmark for the Aviation Weather Center’s Aviation Area Forecast page and finding a bright yellow alert bar across the top, enclosing the message: “The text area forecast for the contiguous United States had been discontinued. To get the forecast for these areas check the GFA tool.”

Do check the GFA, or graphical forecasts for aviation.

Welcome back to spring flying.

Dan Namowitz

Dan Namowitz

Associate Editor Web
Associate Editor Web Dan Namowitz has been writing for AOPA in a variety of capacities since 1991. He has been a flight instructor since 1990 and is a 30-year AOPA member.
Topics: IFR, Instrument Rating, FAA publications