Flight Watch and WAC Charts Gone

In a move I fully support, the FAA is dropping Flight Watch (122.0) on Oct 1, 2015.  Pilots looking for weather info, flight plan help or giving PIREPs will need to find a local FSS frequency.  There are a lot of them, they aren’t as congested as Flight Watch and it is how we did everything before there was a Flight Watch.

So what was so special about Flight Watch and why did a few special FSS locations get it way back when there were lots of FSS stations?  It basically came down to the advent of real-time (or nearly so) radar data becoming available.  The early subscriptions for such nation-wide NEXRAD type composites were quite expensive.  The FAA gave these to just a few Flight Service stations and gave them the Flight Watch frequency so that pilots could get real time radar-based advisories while other “normal” FSS locations remained stuck with lousy radar composites that were very dated when printed.  However, it’s been a long time now that all FSS stations have real time radar composites along with Doppler and other new goodies and there’s been absolutely nothing special about Flight Watch for many years other than it was an easy freq to remember.  I avoid Flight Watch due to congestion and the usually better reception with local FSS frequencies co-located with VOR facilities in most cases.

The decision to discontinue the WAC chart was done without public comment, and that’s probably a poor choice.  But I’ve always wondered a little about WAC charts.  They are handy for sure, and I’ve used them.  The problem is that there’s less info due to space – some things from the Sectionals just can’t be fit in there – and as anal as the FAA gets about having accurate and complete data I’ve wondered how they could criticize the use of state published state Sectional-type charts with all the data of a Sectional but accept the use of WACs in VFR operations that were missing a lot of Sectional data.  Oh well.  So we’ll have to buy a few more charts and flip pages more often – if we still use paper at all.  Electronically the Sectional chart has become easy to update and use and there’s really no reason to eliminate data using WACs on electronic presentations.

Happy Landings,


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