***Watch this video in High Definition, like it was meant to be***
It's a beautiful day for flying, high scattered clouds, light winds, and the sun is shining. You think to yourself, “Where should I fly today?” Then you remember there's a fly-in pancake breakfast in the next state and you decide, “Heck, I've never been to a fly-in breakfast and boy am I hungry.” You head over to your computer to start looking up the weather and planning your flight.
But where do you go for your preflight due diligence? Well let's check the weather with ADDS; viewing the METARS, TAF's, winds aloft, radar, etc. Everything looks great there so it's time to do a little flight planning. Heading over to DUATS, you plug in the details of the flight to optimize your routing and fuel burn and then you file your flight plan. Now, because your flying to an unfamiliar airport you'll need to check your paper AF/D for the airport particulars, assuming you have with you the most current publication. Starting to sound a bit obnoxious and time consuming isn't it?
Enter iFlightPlanner.com! iFLightPlanner is a web based flight planning service and so much more.
Who Are The Guys Behind iFlightPlanner.com?
Founders John Burnside and Andy Matthews knew each other from their college days at the University of Michigan. John, an accomplished web programmer, started his own successful web development company straight out of college; Andy is a pro golfer on the Canadian Tour and has played in multiple PGA Tour events and the 2007 U.S. Open. But due to an injury, Andy was forced to take a brief break from golf which was when he started flying lessons after enjoying a ride in a friends Cessna 182.
Combined with the support and suggestion of their families, John and Andy founded iFlightPlanner.com due to a frustration in needing to visit multiple sources for preflight due diligence; frequently a very time consuming process as observed above. They guys felt there had to be a better way – something like a ‘one-stop-shop' for preflight planning. Only, nothing existed at the time to fill that void and that's when iFlightPlanner was born.
So what does iFlightPlanner have to offer? Current features are:
- Online Flight Planning
- Flight Wizard
- Flight Plan Filing
- Stored Aircraft Profiles
- Certified Aviation Weather Briefings
- Airport Facility Directory
- Weight & Balance Calculator (Premium feature)
- Online Logbook (some restrictions apply)
- FREE To Use (minus 2 Premium features)
Ok Len, But I Don't Want To Pay For Anything
Now you don't have to worry about forking out any money to use this wonderful service, at least not for the free version. And this isn't one of those limited use free versions either. You get full access to all but two features, the Weight & Balance Calculator, and some limited features on the Online Logbook. Of course all the Flight Planning, Flight Wizard, Weather Briefing, Filing, and AF/D functions are always free of charge.
Premium account features are only $9.95/month and additional savings can be enjoyed through 3-month and 12-month subscriptions. Personally, I use other electronic logbook software so I'm not likely to use their Online Logbook function. However, the Weight & Balance Calculator is well worth the small monthly expense.
You simply tab through the fields, quickly entering your pilot, passenger, baggage, and fuel loads, and *tadah* you've got a finished weight and balance in less than 30 seconds. Visual indicators like green and red highlighted columns quickly alert you that your within or outside your aircraft's operating envelope. No calculators or math required; simply plug-and-play.
What's This Rubber Banding Thing Everyone Is Talking About?
One of my favorite features is the route-planning rubber banding feature. It's a drag-and-drop flight planning function that allows you to create your own flight routing by simply clicking on the map to enter waypoints. This feature is EXTREMELY handy when trying to navigate around weather since you can display radar and other meteorological information over such maps as sectionals and low/high enroute IFR charts. Something that most other flight planners currently lack – like the popular iPad subscription service app (sorry guys, but it's true).
Being able to see your flight plan laid over your preferred type of map with a moving radar and weather image allows you to quickly alter your flight route and this is where the rubber banding feature really shines. Just drag your waypoints around the weather, click “Add To Route” and presto, you are done! Simply stunning.
But don't just take my word for it – watch the iFlightPlanner Video Review to see these features in action!
iFlightPlanner also supports SID's and STAR's in the flight planning process. Just enter them into your routing and the Flight Wizard will display everything on the map for you. Another killer feature comes at the end of the flight planning process when you're presented with the option to print out airport diagrams and related instrument charts and approach plates associated with your departure, arrival, and alternate airports.
And It's iPad & Mobile Friendly, Holler!
A few things not mentioned in the video are that iFlightPlanner.com works beautifully on iPad in it's current form. John and Andy are working towards a native iOS app, but in the meanwhile its nice to know it still works the like a champ in iPad's Safari browser.
For those mobile users out there, you can access most of the iFlightPlanner functions at http://mobile.iflightplanner.com on any smartphone browser. The mobile site is a bit of a hidden gem, something I was extremely excited to learn about since I can't use iPad in the flightdeck of the FAR Part 121 company I fly with. However, before each flight I can quickly whip out my smartphone and become more informed of the weather and flight conditions, more specifically any precipitation activity on the radar. Awesome!
These Guys Are Legit
If you've ever been burned or irritated by the customer service with any other flight planning companies, fret not, you will love the guys at iFlightPlanner; they are BY FAR my customer service heroes of the month. John and Andy go out of their way to promptly respond to all inquires and service issues that may arise. There was a particular error message I had received, immediately followed by an email from John. At first I thought the email was automatically generated, but I was quite mistaken.
Each issue is personally addressed directly by the company. iFlightPlanner makes my list of top companies in customer service, ease of product use, and overall wonderful experience, something they've admitted they pride themselves greatly for and I can vouch for that.
Get It Now
So what's next? Well that's easy… Sign up for your FREE iFlightPlanner.com account today! Go ahead, you know you won't regret it.
Thanks for visiting and I hope you enjoyed this product review. Comments will be closing in 2 weeks so please leave your questions and thoughts below before it's too late!
Clear Skies & Calm Winds,
Len @ ThePilotReport.com
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