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,


To FIKI or not to FIKI

It’s that time of year, so my first serious blog on the new OptAir site will address FIKI. I’ve been asked many times if OptAir will get FIKI (Flight Into Known Ice) certified SR22s in the fleet.  Answer:  probably not.

Start here: J. Mac McClellan’s article on icing is spot on.

If you think you need a FIKI SR22, consider the following points.Read More

Learning WordPress and X Theme

Well, we’ve finally jumped in the deep end and ditched the all html site that said we were looking forward to 2009.  Finally!  Matt Holdampf and I have been learning the ways of WordPress and X Theme as quickly as we can – which is probably painfully slow to anyone skilled in the art (at least for me – Matt knows this stuff better).  But there’s quite a bit of satisfaction watching things start to work after a day or two of messing around with linking up databases, choosing a look and getting things to start looking like we meant what we were doing.

We have a Customer Area coming – a log-in location on this site for our owners that will be a repository for training materials and such, something we’ve been wanting for quite a while. We’ll also include some information on the stuff that some of the staff and owners do in aviation other than fly high-performance singles – we’ve got jet jocks, retired ATC controllers, aerobatic pilots, soaring pilots, floatplane pilots…lots of interesting stuff.  We just like aviation around here, and this site will eventually reflect that.

While building in some page info, suffice to say now that OptAir is doing well with 6 aircraft in SE Mi and 2 at RDU.  We welcome inquires and have room for a few more new folks flying the aircraft.  And if you aren’t careful you’ll get sucked into a tailwheel transition, glider flight and some aerobatics just because you are hanging around the right place.

I really had to leave the example imbedded video post below provided with the X Theme.  It’s fun.

We’ll see how we look here after another week or so.  Happy landings.