Top 8 weather apps for pilots


Checking the weather before flight has always been one of the most popular uses for the iPad. After all, it’s easier to get an update by looking at your tablet or your phone than to sit down at a computer. But which app to use?

There are thousands of weather apps for the general public, from free to quite expensive. These are great for deciding whether you need a jacket tomorrow, but when it comes to aviation weather–looking at thunderstorms, ice, turbulence, visibility and so much more–these apps just aren’t enough. So we’ll focus mostly on aviation weather apps, both free and paid.

Here’s our top 8 weather apps for pilots:

Cloud Topper app
The Cloud Topper Pilot Sight Level app is fun and useful in flight.

8. Intellicast HD. This is not an aviation-specific app, but we’ve included it here because it’s still useful for pilots. Created by WSI Corporation, makers of the ubiquitous FBO weather stations, it combines an excellent radar map, forecast radar images, hourly forecasts, charts and a lot more. This is the base app in our weather toolkit, good for a general overview of conditions. Best of all, it’s free. Get the app here.

7. CloudTopper. This may not technically be a weather app, but it’s useful in flight when dealing with weather. CloudTopper, just $0.99, is the answer to the ever-present question, “Are we going to top those clouds?” Using the iPad or iPhone’s built-in gyro and camera, it allows you to point your phone at the clouds ahead, get it exactly level and see whether or not those clouds are above you. You can even enter your estimated distance to the clouds and the app will estimate how many feet you would need to climb to get on top. Great for VFR and IFR pilots alike. Get the app here.

6. MyRadar. There are literally hundreds of radar apps in the App Store, and with good reason. Checking the radar is an essential task for pilots and non-pilots alike. Almost all of these apps use the same data (from the National Weather Service), so it’s mostly how this data is presented that distinguishes apps from each other. One of our favorites is MyRadar. It’s free, fast and easy to use, with high quality looping radar. But as we’ve mentioned before, there are some nice aviation features in there too, like an AIRMETs overlay. Get the app here.

RadarScope app
RadarScope offers a wealth of information for pilots.

5. RadarScope. If MyRadar is the lightweight, easy-to-use radar app, RadarScope is the weather geek’s radar app. It focuses less on pretty pictures and more on options–you can display any of the 155 different radar sites in the US, and choose between base and composite reflectivity. This is a complicated subject, but many pilots think composite reflectivity is most useful for flight planning (but is not what most TV stations show). Having the ability to compare different radar scans can offer some good insights with a little training. This app, which costs $9.99, also allows you to zoom in and look for tell-tale severe weather radar signatures. Get the app here.

4. SkewTLogPro. Another geeky tool that some pilots like is the Skew-T log p diagram. This is intimidating at first glance, but the Skew-T offers a lot of information, including temperature, dewpoint, wind direction and wind speed at different altitudes. With some training, this chart reveals a lot about cloud bases, cloud tops, icing, turbulence and more. This handy app, at $6.99, is a fast and easy way to view Skew-T diagrams at any location in the US by entering either an airport identifier or lat/longs. You can even tap a button to automatically see the sounding closest to your current location. Get the app here.

3. Aviation Weather. This isn’t really a native iOS app, but rather a link to a web app, so you need an internet connection to use it. But it still offers a lot of great NOAA/NWS information, from text weather reports and AIRMETs to Pilot Reports and satellite images. There are a few hidden gems on this site, too, and the app is free. It’s a time-saver. Get the app here.

Skew-t Log Pro app
The SkewTLogPro app is for weather geeks, but can be extremely helpful for pre-flight planning.

2. WSI Pilotbrief Optima. WSI is one of the leading weather technology and analysis companies in the world, and their FBO weather stations and website have been essential pilot tools for decades. The company has recently launched an all-new app, called Optima, which bundles all of their exclusive weather products into one slick interface. There’s a full route briefing tool that pulls all weather data–even NOTAMs–into one view, so there’s no jumping around between maps. And WSI’s unique NOWrad radar picture is probably the best available. Recent updates allow pilots to save weather charts for offline use, which is helpful for taking your iPad into the cockpit. The app isn’t cheap (it requires a WSI subscription that can cost over $100/mo.), and it’s not 100% bug-free, but this is still a powerful app with some exclusive features. Get the app here.

1. ForeFlight/Garmin Pilot/WingX. Whichever of the big three aviation apps you use, they are hard to beat for weather briefings. Because you can overlay your flight plan route on different weather maps, they offer great situational awareness and endless possibilities for diversion planning (you can even factor in fuel prices). These apps also include a wealth of information, from graphical METARs to icing forecasts, that you can’t find most other places. Finally, they allow you to get a formal DUAT/DUATS weather briefing right in the app. This is not to mention the in-flight options for datalink weather, whether it’s XM or ADS-B. Each app has a free trial, but requires an annual subscription to keep current. Get ForeFlight here, Garmin Pilot here, and WingX here.

What’s your favorite weather app? Add a comment below.


  1. I like AeroWeather Pro to get a quick look at aviation weather at the airports nearby. One or two clicks and I have complete, translated METARs and TAFs for the airports I care about, along with their latest automated observations and NOTAMs. You can make your own airport groupings, say for airports at your home base or at your destination.

    I group airports around me and I can see the weather conditions (VFR/MVFR/IFR) as well as winds and temperature all on one screen of my iPhone or iPad.

  2. Weathermeister ( is my favorite weather briefing website (OK, it isn’t an app).

    Nice layout of all the information you need – at least for VFR flights. It does require a subscription, but its pretty reasonable.

  3. I tried Wing X Pro (trial version) and couldn’t get the weather overlay on the sectional. I call support several times. I also called Sporty’s and they told me it couldn’t be done unless it was ADS-B. Wing X is a great app, but that one wx issue is a deal breaker.

  4. Aero Weather is the best one to check airport weather. Super app.
    Other apps discussed in the top 8 are more general (in flight). Misser that Aero Weather is not listed, agree with other commenters on this.

  5. I use Foreflight and an iPad3. I frequently get “radar not available” in flight, and usually when I need it most. Can anyone tell me if this is a System problem (no app will do better), a Foreflight problem, or a setup problem on my iPad?
    I’ve tried cell service on and off, airplane mode on and off, and my Bad Elf plugged in and not.

    • Elliott, are you trying to connect to 3G/4G cell towers to get weather? Or are you connected to a Stratus ADS-B receiver? If you’re using 3G/4G, it’s likely that you won’t have a reliable connection in the air so you won’t be able to download weather. Those cell connections are made for the ground, not in flight.

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