Over the past five years I’ve posted 250 Left Seat blogs. I only know that because the software that creates the blog keeps count.
The screen also tells me that more than 6,000 comments have been posted. People with thin skins should avoid posting blogs.
But as I am dialing back my work for EAA it’s time to set the parking brake on this Left Seat. I’ll continue to write the Left Seat column every month for Sport Aviation magazine.
I’ve been writing for print all of my life, first as a newspaper sports writer, and the past 40 years as an aviation writer. I’ve been a very lucky guy.
I want to thank FltPlan.com for sponsoring Left Seat for the past two years, and Aspen Avionics before that.
FltPlan.com is the most amazing and valuable online pilot resource made possible by the internet. Because it is advertiser supported FltPlan.com is free to pilots. Yet its flight planning precision is spooky in its accuracy. Whether you fly a Gulfstream or a Cherokee you can count on FltPlan.com to hit en route times and fuel burns within a couple minutes and a couple gallons.
FltPlan.com was created by Ken Wilson, a lifelong pilot. Ken put together his first flight planning software while still in college when we were using computer disks that really did flop around.
Because Ken was very experienced flying in the air traffic system before he created FltPlan.com he built a flight planner that is real world, not some textbook version of how the IFR system is supposed to work. The site isn’t beautiful or flashy, but is intuitive for pilots to use.
There is so much to like about FltPlan.com–and more than two thirds of all non-airline IFR flight plans are filed through the site–but my three favorite features are the historical wind data base, the tracking of routing other pilots have filed and received, and the ability to enter a flight plan far into the future without need for any additional action before you take off.
You can enter a trip into FltPlan.com out to 180 days in advance and see your flight times and fuel burns based on 90 percent probability historical winds over the route. There is nothing more useless than a still air flight plan because the wind always blows. With FltPlan.com you never see a no-wind flight plan. As the day of your trip approaches FltPlan.com automatically updates the historical winds with the actual forecast winds so by the time you depart you have the best possible information.
There are lots of traffic routing quirks around the country, especially if you are flying to or near major metro areas. FltPlan.com shows you what routing other pilots have filed for your trip and what clearances have been issued. That’s a huge help and prevents the surprises you can get if you just punch in direct to.
And an extremely useful capability of FltPlan.com is that it resides on the web. You can enter a plan on your desktop days or weeks in advance. You can check up on the plan or change it on any mobile device or any computer that can get to the web. And you can automatically send briefings to your passengers and alert the FBO of your expected arrival. And anything else you need for the flight including charts and customs notifications is on the site.
So I have been honored to have FltPlan.com sponsor my blog. Be sure to check it out. You can’t beat terrific and free. And I’ll continue to see you in the pages of Sport Aviation.