Have you ever taken off without checking NOTAMS? Come on…..everyone has done it at least once.
You can always tell when a pilot hasn’t check the NOTAMs. ATC is usually polite about it, but all the other pilots know that pilot didn’t do their due diligence.
Luckily checking NOTAMs is easy thanks to the internet and Foreflight. You have no excuse!
The most obvious place to check NOTAMS is 1-800-WX-BRIEF. But, hold on a second before you give them a call. It’s better to check them on the internet first because the NOTAMs may cause you to change your flight plan.
Here are three ways you can check NOTAMs before you call for a weather brief:
1. The FAA’s main NOTAM site.
My favorite go-to internet site is this one run by the FAA.
If you google “NOTAMS” it should come up as the first website under “NOTAMS: Federal Aviation Administration.”
This is what the site looks like.
Separate each airport with a space and use the correct ICAO identifier.
Hit the small “View NOTAMs” button and this is what you will get:
Notice in this example how each airfield has its own section. Check only the NOTAMs you wish to print or don’t check any and they will all print.
2. The FAA’s second-rate NOTAM site.
The FAA also run another NOTAMS search website.
It typically pops up third in the search results under “Federal Aviation Administration: NOTAM Search.” I hesitate to even give you the URL as I highly recommend you don’t use it.
This is a screen shot of it:
Notice how it doesn’t separate the different airports automatically?
I tried to use the yellow “Sort by” button but it didn’t work as advertised. I got frustrated and quit.
Stick to the main FAA site.
Better yet, get yourself and iPad and a Foreflight subscription. Which brings me to my third method of checking NOTAMs.
Foreflight automatically translates the NOTAMS into plain english. This is a godsend for the NOTAM-reading-impaired (like me).
The user interface is superior.
Foreflight converts NOTAMs from Zulu into local time. You never have to worry you did your Zulu time conversion wrong! It also highlights important NOTAMs like runway closures.
Check out this example from Foreflight:
The only disadvantage of Foreflight is I haven’t figured out how to print from the program.
I like to print out my NOTAMs and scribble out the ones that don’t matter and highlight the important ones. I also like to print out the airport diagram and mark it up as I go through the NOTAMs.
So while Foreflight makes it extremely easy to read NOTAMs, it isn’t so great for printing.
4. Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFRs): Skyvector and Foreflight
Don’t forget TFRs are an important component to checking NOTAMs.
I never ever use the written format of TFRs. Life is too short! Do you really have time to decipher this:
Lets start with Foreflight:
Notice how it graphically depicts the TFR making it easy for you to plan your route around it. It also, when you click on it, will tell you the altitudes associated with it and when it expires in local time.
Skyvector is free and does the same thing:
So, those are the ways to get NOTAM and TFR information for your flight.
Need to know how to read NOTAMs? I got you covered. Check out this thorough article: A Complete Guide to Decoding NOTAMS.
One more thing!
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