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Did You Really Pre-Flight?

posted Nov 23, 2005

With all the talk of Temporary Flight Restrictions, and recent last-minute closures at our local airport I still find some pilots aren’t getting an official briefing before flying. These pilots are just asking for problems when they blunder into temporarily restricted airspace, find the airport closed, discover a published radio frequency has changed, or any of the other things they would have discovered if they took a few minutes to get a briefing.

The easiest method is to call 1-800-WX-BRIEF and speak to a preflight briefer. A standard briefing will take less than 5 minutes of your time for a local flight. Alternatively you can get the preflight weather and NOTAM information online from the two providers of DUATS: www.duat.com or www.duats.com. There are many other websites that can tell you current and forecast weather conditions, or even show you TFRs graphically. However the two DUATS providers are the only official sources of this information, and I don’t know of any other online source for NOTAM information such as runway closures, rocket launches, parachute jumping activity, etc. If you are involved in an accident or incident, the FAA will check their records to see if you got a preflight briefing. Unless you called the Flight Service 800 number, or logged into www.duat.com or www.duats.com they will conclude that you did not get a preflight briefing.

Remember that your pre-flight starts even before you get to the airport. Take a few minutes and get an official briefing from the FAA before you take to the air. Oh, and in case you were wondering, calling the number to hear the automated ASOS broadcast at the airport does not constitute a pre-flight briefing.

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