Sample Western U.S. Flight Routes

Many pilots are curious about routes to fly on longer trips around the western U.S. and to/from the West to destinations like Oshkosh (home of EAA AirVenture).

I’ve flown around the West and to Oshkosh many times over the years, in a variety of aircraft–usually normally aspirated piston singles. I’ve organized routes that I fly regularly into a Microsoft Excel workbook, which you can download from my public AviationDocuments folder at OneDrive, here. Look for the file named BruceAirPreferredRoutes.

BruceAirRoutes-01

Each entry includes a basic description and:

  • Links to information about the departure and destination airports (at SkyVector.com)
  • An overlay of the route on a VFR chart at SkyVector.com
  • Basic statistics (distance, etc.)

BruceAirRoutes-02

The AircraftData tab (at the bottom of the worksheet window) contains basic information about the aircraft (e.g., KTAS and fuel burn) that link to the information in the main Routes tab. Edit the information in the AircraftData tab to match the data for the aircraft that you fly, and it will automatically populate the appropriate fields in the Routes tab, saving you the effort of manually filling in speeds, etc. for each route.

Keep in mind that these routes are general guidelines that may help you start planning trips in these areas. You should adjust them for the performance of the aircraft you fly, fuel stops, places you want to visit, terrain, and so forth. Obviously, weather and other factors (such as your personal preferences for leg lengths) also come into play.

 

Experimental Graphical Forecasts for Aviation

The Aviation Weather Center has released new Experimental Graphical Forecasts for Aviation, described by the AWC:

The Experimental Graphical Forecasts for Aviation are designed to provide meteorological information equivalent to the textual Area Forecast (FA) in a graphical format, as requested by the FAA. This product includes observations and forecasts valid for the continental United States that provide data critical for aviation safety, overlaid on high-resolution basemaps. Please note that the text-based Area Forecast is still being produced.

gfa_icing_with_annotations
A tutorial on the new forecast is available here.

As FAA noted in a recent draft revision to  AC 00-45H, Aviation Weather Services:

The FA contains weather information in a format originally developed in the 1950s. By design, it carries a character count limitation and is prohibited from describing instrument flight rules (IFR) conditions over the CONUS and Hawaii (reserved for Airmen’s Meteorological Information (AIRMET) and significant meteorological information (SIGMET)).

While the FA met aviation weather information needs for many years, today the National Weather Service (NWS) provides equivalent information through a number of better alternatives. Plans are to discontinue the six FAs covering the CONUS and one FA covering Hawaii, which will then be replaced by digital and graphical products produced by the NWS. No near-term changes are planned for the FAs for Alaska, the Caribbean, or the Gulf of Mexico. (Appendix E)

You can complete a survey about the new forecast here.