Category Archives: News from the web

News from various sources around the web.

WeatherSpork offers new approach to aviation weather

Weather is a constant struggle for pilots, no matter how many hours are in your logbook. While the big electronic flight bag (EFB) apps like ForeFlight and Garmin Pilot are loaded with weather tools, a new app is taking a different approach to help pilots make smarter preflight decisions.

WeatherSpork is not an EFB app, but rather an easy-to-use app that focuses on smarter preflight weather briefings. The company was co-founded by Scott Dennstaedt, a well-known former meteorologist and active flight instructor who worked at ForeFlight until last year. Dennstaedt’s goal is to improve pilots’ understanding of weather, and in particular to help them choose the best day and time for departure. Here’s a hands-on review.


The first option (after Favorites, which allows you to pick commonly-used weather reports) is the 7-day forecast. This is a good place to get the big picture view of your departure or destination airport. Tap on the airport identifier at the top to change the forecast location.


Next up is Airport, which provides a number of advanced weather observations and forecasts for specific locations. Tap the menu at the top to choose a location, then tap the menu at the bottom to choose which type of weather product you want to see. There are 11 options overall, including METAR, Radar and Forecast Discussion. Two unique options we really like are the Meteogram and the Skew-t diagram. The Meteogram gives you a great 3D view of the atmosphere at the selected airport, including visibility, ceiling, precipitation, and winds. Tap and drag your finger from left to right to view details at different points throughout the 3-day forecast period.

The Skew-T log (p) diagram shows a somewhat complicated chart, based on the RAP model forecasts. Once you learn how to interpret the chart, there is a lot of information packed into one screen. These charts aren’t always easy to access, so it’s nice to see them here in an aviation app.

Route Profile

After reviewing your departure and destination airports, step down to the Route Profile page. This allows you to enter a departure airport, a destination airport, and up to two intermediate airports. Then you’ll see a 3D representation of wind, clouds, AIRMETs, and even terrain – ideal for choosing the best cruising altitude.

Grid View

The Grid view option looks a little intimidating at first, but we found it to be a helpful visual representation of various weather forecast products. Again, enter your route at the top. Then you’ll see familiar VFR/MVFR/IFR/LIFR colors along your route of flight. You’ll also see your flight as it progresses, so you can view the forecast weather as you pass each reporting point. Tap on a color-coded square for the detailed forecast.

Map View

This may be the most familiar view for pilots, and it shows what you would expect: METAR symbols, SIGMETS, and AIRMETs. Tap on a symbol for more than just the standard METAR info; you’ll also find crosswind component, and the forecast for storms in the next six hours. Some of this data is based on Model Output Statistics (MOS) forecasts. Notably, there is no option to display aviation charts or radar, two features we’d like to see added at some point in the future.

One interesting feature is what WeatherSpork calls the Wheels Up Departure Advisor. Instead of focusing on a single departure time, the app tries to determine when the best weather will be. Tap the ETD menu button at the bottom to display a color-coded timeline.


The Imagery page will look familiar to users of EFB apps, but there are a lot of advanced weather products here beyond prog charts and radar. There are multiple options for viewing forecast models, including the HREF, GFS, and NAM. These are highly technical forecasts, but when presented in graphical form they offer a great way of evaluating weather beyond a typical 12-hour TAF window. There are also a number of icing forecast products available.


One bonus feature is a series of 80 recorded presentations by Dennstaedt. These are typically narrated slideshow presentations on specific topics like shallow convective icing, Skew-t diagram interpretation, convective outflow boundaries, and ASOS sensors. Most are about 10 minutes in length, and all are included with your WeatherSpork subscription. Some of these are pretty geeky, but if you’re looking to take your weather skills to the next level, they are definitely worth some time.


There’s also an online version of WeatherSpork, which is helpful for preflight planning on a big screen. Routes and airports are synced, so you can start planning a trip online and pick up right where you left off in the app. Functionality is identical to the app.


WeatherSpork was a pleasant surprise for us. While it’s definitely not an EFB app (no charts or flight plan filing, for example), it accomplishes what it sets out to do. It’s very simple to use, with a basic but effective layout, and a help button on every page. For planning a flight a few days in the future – especially for VFR pilots – we think it can save time and help you make better decisions. It’s also fun to play around with if you’re a weather geek.

The app is free to download and from there you can sign up for a free 7-day trial to test everything out. An annual subscription is $79/year, and includes full access to the 80 educational workshops from AvWxWorkshops.

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Source: Ipad appsWeatherSpork offers new approach to aviation weather

iOS Update Green Light program: iOS 11.4.1

Apple recently released version 11.4.1 of its mobile operating system. The update address bugs introduced in iOS 11.4, including an issue that prevented some users from viewing the last known location of their AirPods in Find My iPhone, along with improving the reliability of syncing mail, contacts, and notes with Exchange accounts. It also adds a new USB Restricted Mode to prevent unauthorized entry or hacking of the device through the Lightning connector.

Click here to view the Green Light Update recommendations for iOS 11.4

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Source: Ipad appsiOS Update Green Light program: iOS 11.4.1

iPad troubleshooting tip: cycle the power

The iPad power button is located just above the rear camera at the top right corner.

There’s a commonly-used technique that almost always works when an electronic device is acting erratically, and that is resetting the power. Whether it’s a satellite receiver or computer, this usually involves powering the device completely down and unplugging it for a minute or two. The same method works well for an iPad that’s acting up too. Examples of problems are frequent app crashing, difficulty connecting to Bluetooth wireless accessories, app installation hangups and sluggish performance.

Before going further it’s important to understand the difference between putting the iPad to sleep vs. resetting the power. When you tap the top right power button or close your iPad’s smart cover to turn the screen off, you’re simply putting it in sleep mode to conserve power. This most likely won’t fix any of the above problems. When you tap the home button to wake it back up, you’ll find the iPad in the same state as you left it, bugs and all. Restarting the iPad involves a few more steps and takes about a minute. Here’s how:

  1. Press and hold the top right power button for about 3 to 4 seconds until the screen dims
  2. You’ll see a slider at the top that says “slide to power off;” doing this will power down the iPad
  3. After another few seconds, you’ll see the screen go completely black
  4. Now press and hold the top right power again for about a second, and an apple symbol will appear on the screen
  5. After about a minute you’ll see your Lock screen again

This won’t fix all problems, especially if there really is something wrong with your app or accessory. But the next time you experience something out of the ordinary with your iPad, try this power reset before throwing in the towel.

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Source: Ipad appsiPad troubleshooting tip: cycle the power

FAA finds Key West in violation of grant assurances on pilot self-service

In response to a Part 13 complaint submitted by AOPA, the FAA’s Southern Region Airports Division issued a determination on AOPA’s complaint that is mostly more of the same from the agency. While most fixed-base operators do a great job, the FAA continues to support the limitation of access to federally funded airports by defending monopoly pricing practices at certain locations.

Source: aopaFAA finds Key West in violation of grant assurances on pilot self-service

MyRadar adds precipitation prediction feature

Some people love push notifications on mobile devices to keep up with timely, important information, while others find them nagging and annoying. While you probably don’t need to see a pop-up alert for every Facebook update or incoming email message, notifications can be beneficial when configured properly.

They are especially useful in aviation apps to keep you informed of important information during the final hours leading up to a flight. For example, you can receive alerts that contain the expected ATC routing for an IFR flight, or when a TFR is published near your current location.

The latest push notification option comes in the form of a weather alert from the popular MyRadar app, designed to get your attention on the ground when precipitation is heading your way. The notifications make use of MyRadar’s customized weather data infrastructure to proactively alert you as to when rain or snow will hit – down to the minute, up to an hour in advance – including the type of precipitation imminent; light drizzle, heavy rain, or snow.

These can be enabled from the Settings button (gear symbol) > Notification Settings > Rain Alerts. You can further customize the alert by specifying the minimum level of precipitation needed to trigger the alert. For example, it will only alert you to moderate precipitation (or heavier) if you select that option. This precipitation prediction feature is currently available in the free version of MyRadar, and will be added to MyRadar Pro soon.

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Source: Ipad appsMyRadar adds precipitation prediction feature