One way ForeFlight Mobile has built such a loyal following is by constantly adding new features, so the app becomes more and more powerful over time. That’s a great benefit, but with those new features mean there are new things to learn, so in this article we’ll continue our regular series of quick tips for ForeFlight.
Color IR Satellite, with Sky Coverage
ForeFlight’s new color infrared satellite layer is a great addition, allowing pilots to judge vertical development of weather systems and spot potential thunderstorms. But the real power of the satellite image is not by itself, but when viewed in combination with text weather reports. For that, go to the Maps page and tap the top left menu to select layers. Turn on Satellite, then choose one of the weather station symbols – we like ceiling or sky coverage. It’s a simple thing, but seeing all this information together is really powerful. For example, in the screenshot below you can see that, while there are some serious clouds over Arizona, they are not leading to overcast skies (at least not below 12,000 ft.). In California, while there is little on the satellite image, there are overcast skies. This is a good check–a VFR pilot blasting off from Los Angeles based purely on the satellite imagery might be surprised to see clouds. They’re thin, but they are there.
Caribbean VFR and IFR Chart Layers
ForeFlight has been steadily adding more international coverage, and the Caribbean (a popular destination for many pilots this time of year) now has complete VFR and IFR en route charts. There are no approach plates yet, but the coverage is otherwise excellent, extending all the way from the Bahamas to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. To enable these charts, first go to More, then Downloads, then tap on “Caribbean, Mexico, Central America.” From there, you can select the available charts to download, including IFR Low Charts, IFR High Charts and World Aeronautical Charts (WACs). Go back to the Maps page and these will appear as new layers in the Maps menu.
Show Weather First Setting
The Airports page offers a wealth of information, but many times the most important thing there is the weather report–is your destination still VFR, or has the crosswind picked up? One simple, time-saving feature is to set ForeFlight to always show the weather tab first when you load a new airport. This is selected from the More tab, then Settings. Next time you search for a new airport, you’ll immediately see the latest METAR.
Hazard Advisor Route Corridor Width
The Profile tool on the Maps page is a great way to plan low-level flights. It gives a detailed but easy-to-understand view of all terrain and obstacles along your planned route. But not every flight has the same requirements for terrain and obstacles, so ForeFlight allows you to modify the settings for these alerts. From the Profile tool, tap the gear symbol on the right side of the window. From there you can set the corridor width–1 mile for a precisely planned IFR flight might work, but 20 miles might be better for a meandering VFR cross country. You can also adjust the altitudes at which terrain and obstacles will turn yellow and red. The normal settings are within 1000 ft. for yellow and within 100 ft. for red. This is fine for most airplane pilots, but helicopter pilots will find this annoying, since they often fly below 1000 ft for the entire flight. It’s a simple change here.