by Jonathan M. Stern
IFR Flight Planning
I was particularly impressed one stormy afternoon while working local control and thankful that I was in the tower and not in an airplane. A Piper Cherokee Six, a single-engine, propeller driven airplane, on a charter flight landed at National with winds gusting to 65 knots. That sort of plane normally flies with surface winds no greater than 15 or 20 knots. Many 727s were flying in holding patterns, and this little Piper Cherokee made a good landing.
In this chapter, you learn the basics of IFR flight planning and plan several cross-country flights. In later chapters, you fly the trips and track your progress on flight logs that you create as you perform your flight planning.
The Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs) require pilots to familiarize themselves with all relevant information before beginning an instrument flight. Specifically, the regulations require that pilots on IFR flights become familiar with the following information:
- Weather reports and forecasts
- Fuel requirements
- Alternatives if the planned flight cannot be completed
- Traffic delays reported by ATC
- Runway lengths at airports they intend to use
- Runway requirements based on aircraft performance
I have created a form that provides for an easy method of collecting all of the required data. Flight Simulator pilots should feel free to copy my form or use the many alternatives commercially available. The important thing is to have all the necessary data in an accessible form that is as easy as possible to use.