In slightly more than a decade, the World Wide Web has gone from being a mere novelty to one of the most important tools available. Now, with a click of the mouse, pilots can access live weather, plan flights with previously unheard-of flexibilities, check fuel prices, find aircraft values, search databases, take virtual tours of museums and study volumes of hard-to-access aviation product information. In the proceeding pages, Plane & Pilot has assembled the best online sites for pilots who are searching for excellent resources on the Internet.
Favorites & Bookmarkers
Federal Aviation Administration: www.faa.gov
It includes real-time airport status (mainly Class B airspace), graphical TFRs, current regulations and advisories, NOTAMs and restrictions, aircraft registration and forms. It includes links to a wide range of external sites, including flight schools and aviation universities, weather information, national registry of aircraft, licensed pilots, instructors and mechanics.
NASA Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate: www.aero-space.nasa.gov This is the home page of NASA’s Aeronautics Research Directorate, with tons of information on topics ranging from X-planes to the upcoming Small Aircraft Transportation System (SATS).
NOAA National Weather Service Aviation Weather Center: http://aviationweather.gov
It’s the official source for aviation weather. It includes AIRMETS, SIGMETS (domestic and international), prognostic charts, PIREPs, surface observations, RADAR and satellite imagery—all free of charge. New products include icing and turbulence forecasts. It also has links to an Aviation Digital Data Service (ADDS) experimental site with products including combination radar intensity and cloud tops chart, graphical METARS, TAFS and PIREPs, convective forecasts and more.
NOAA NWS AWC Aviation Digital Data Service: http://adds.aviationweather.noaa.gov
It’s one of the best, aviation weather sites, offering text, digital and graphical forecasts, and weather analyses. It’s a joint effort of NCAR Research Applications Program (RAP), NOAA Forecast Systems Laboratory (FSL) and the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) Aviation Weather Center (AWC).
National Transportation Safety Board: www.ntsb.gov
Get accident reports, analyses, safety recommendations and legal matters.
CSC DUATS: www.duats.com
This is the site for Web-based preflight briefings. File and change flight plans online. It also includes basic flight planning and weather graphics—including current conditions, NEXRAD radar, satellite imagery and aviation forecasts. It also offers TFRs and NOTAMs, available in both text and graphic form.
National Aeronautical Charting Office: www.naco.faa.gov
Do you use NOS charts, including sectionals, WACs, IFR en route and approach plates? They’re cheaper if you order direct from the source. View an online catalog before ordering by mail (online ordering is scheduled for early 2005), and download selected items, including current U.S. terminal procedures, airport diagrams and VFR chart bulletins for free. A catalog of worldwide charts from the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency and nautical charts from NOAA also are available.
Nonprofit Aviation Organizations
Experimental Aircraft Association: www.eaa.org
It’s the premier organization for experimentals and homebuilts, and includes excellent online flight planning and information on autogas STCs. This also is the home of the annual AirVenture at Oshkosh, Wis., (and the best source for flight planning if you fly to Osh!).
Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association: www.aopa.org
This site gives excellent weather information, free aircraft valuator, airport information and U.S. terminal procedures for AOPA members. It also hosts AOPA’s Air Safety Foundation (ASF), which provides online courses, analysis of aviation accidents, CFI renewal courses, safety seminars and type-specific safety publications.
National Business Aviation Association: www.nbaa.org
This is the online home of the NBAA. It offers extensive information on aviation safety, security, administration, taxes, finance, insurance, maintenance, airports, airspace, communications and international operations. An online library offers document packages on aircraft acquisition and leasing, an airport handbook, automated flight-deck training and best practices for aviation safety, among several other things.
National Association of Flight Instructors: www.nafinet.org
This excellent Website includes everything you want to know about flight instructors, from general news to databases of instructors and master instructors all over the nation.
Commemorative Air Force: www.confederateairforce.org
If you like vintage warbirds, this is the fold who keeps ‘em flying. Its mission is to preserve and keep in flying condition a complete collection of combat aircraft that were flown by all military services of the United States in World War II.
Build A Plane: www.buildaplane.org
Join an international effort to bring aviation into the lives of high-school kids. Learn about the program and its many successes, view projects that already are underway, or sign up to start a new one!
Be A Pilot: www.beapilot.com
It’s the easiest way to share aviation with someone interested in learning to fly. The site offers directions to sign up for an inexpensive introductory flight.
News And General Information
This is a lively site with news and discussion of aviation topics from the folks who publish Aviation Consumer. It includes columns from experts in fields ranging from flight instruction and aviation law to avionics and maintenance issues. It also contains regularly updated news stories covering aviation accidents, product announcements and other events of interest. You can even get flight tracking for $10 per month.
Aero-News Network: www.aero-news.net
It contains extensive online news reporting that covers aerospace, commercial, military and sport aviation, as well as GA.
This site includes a huge collection of aviation databases, articles and discussion forums. It can be difficult to navigate this Website, mainly due to the sheer volume of material. But it offers a gateway to databases, including aircraft registrations (U.S. and worldwide), regulations and accident reports. It also offers a vast array of weather data, including worldwide satellite imagery. It has an extensive listing of aviation-related products, including insurance, medical examiners, parts, tools, engines, avionics, sales, valuation and so much more.
Adam Aircraft: www.adamaircraft.com
This is the home of the much-talked-about A500 and A700 AdamJet.
American Champion Aircraft Corporation: www.amerchampionaircraft.com
Makers of Citabrias, Decathlons and Scouts.
Aviat Aircraft Incorporated: www.aviataircraft.com
See the Husky, Eagle and Pitts online.
Cessna Aircraft Company: www.cessna.com
Everything Cessna—from C-172s to Citations.
Cirrus Design Corporation: www.cirrusdesign.com
Check out the latest high-tech aircraft craze, the SRV, SR20 and SR22-G2.
Commander Aircraft Company: www.commanderair.com
Lots of information on the Commander 115 series.
Diamond Aircraft: www.diamondair.com
Read about the Evolution to the D-Jet.
Extra Aircraft: www.extraaircraft.com
Check out the EA-300L, EA-400 and EA-500.
Choose from certified aircraft, the Columbia 350 or 400, or kit aircraft, from the Legacy FG to the ES.
Liberty Aerospace: www.libertyaircraft.com
Learn all about the XL2.
Luscombe Aircraft Corporation: www.luscombeaircraft.com
See the 11E, the newest revamp on the age-old classic.
Maule Air Inc.: www.mauleairinc.com
The site for Maule’s 19 standard models of its STOL aircraft.
Mooney Airplane Company: www.mooney.com
Everything you need to know about the Ovation, Ovation2 DX and GX, and Bravo DX and GX.
New Piper Aircraft: www.newpiper.com
The most famous low-wing site, including information about Piper aircraft, from the Warrior III to the Meridian.
Raytheon Aircraft Company: www.raytheonaircraft.com
All the information you need to know about the Beechcraft family of aircraft.
EADS Socata: www.socataaircraft.com
Read up on the latest Socata aircraft developments, from the TB9 GT to the TBM700, in cyberspace.
WACO Classic Aircraft Corporation: www.wacoclassic.com
Relive the history and take a virtual tour of the new-production YMF Super.
The Department of Treasury’s Seized Aircraft Auctions: www.treas.gov/auctions/customs/planes.html
Let the buyer beware, but the aircraft seized by the federal government often are resold at substantial savings over normal book values. Airplanes frequently come without logbooks or any history of maintenance, but for the informed shopper, government aircraft auctions are worth the extra attention.
LoPresti Speed Merchants: www.speedmods.com
These are modifications to speed up a wide range of single- and twin-prop aircraft. Products include replacement cowls, wheel pants, gap seals, wingtips, fairings, strobe lights and wheel covers.
Franklin Aircraft Engines: www.franklinengines.com
This site has information on its 220-hp performance conversion as well as a couple of other engine models.
Textron Lycoming: www.lycoming.textron.com
This engine-manufacturer leader showcases its plethora of new and rebuilt engines.
Pratt & Whitney: www.pratt-whitney.com
Learn all about Pratt & Whitney’s offerings in several sectors of the aviation industry.
Turbofans, turboprops and turboshafts from the world-renowned car maker.
Rotax Aircraft Engines: www.rotax-aircraft-engines.com
The official Website of everything Rotax, including non-certified two-stroke and four-stroke engines, and certified four-stroke engines.
Superior Air Parts: www.superiorairparts.com
Offers FAA-approved replacement parts for Continental and Lycoming aircraft engines as well as its new venture called the Vantage Engine.
Teledyne Continental Motors: www.tcmlink.com
Read about this supplier’s product offerings and services, including powerplants for manned and unmanned aircraft, new and rebuilt engines and airplane parts for GA aircraft.
Thielert Group: www.thielert.com
Makers of the Centurion 1.7 engine—all the way from Germany.
Includes information about its latest development, the SR 305-230 and a C-182 upgrade package.
Avidyne Corporation: www.avidyne.com
Makers of the FlightMax all-glass panel.
Honeywell Bendix/King Avionics: www3.bendixking.com
Now a part of the Honeywell family, Bendix/King’s avionics include communication and navigation, flight-information services, flight controls, weather radar, Integrated Hazard Avoidance Systems (IHAS) and multi-function displays for the general-aviation, experimental and light business aviation communities.
Chelton Flight Systems: www.cheltonflightsystems.com
Singular makers of true “highway in the sky” technology.
This is the online home of Garmin’s aviation products. It offers free firmware updates for portable GPS receivers and database updates for $35 (one-time fee), as well as free simulators for ground-based training before using the 400- and 500-series panel-mount units in flight.
Makers of a variety of cockpit enhancements, including TAS and Strikefinder.
L-3 Communications: www.as.l-3com.com
Makers of high-end flat-panel avionics, situation awareness enhancement, traffic alert and collision avoidance systems, Stormscope and more.
It offers primary flight displays, navigation displays, engine display units, (ADAHRS) and S-TEC autopilots.
Narco Avionics: www.narco-avionics.com
This is one of the world’s oldest general-aviation avionics manufacturer, offering nav/coms and transponders.
Ryan International Corporation: www.ryaninternational.com
It’s one of the industry leaders for TAS, TCAD and multi-hazard displays.
Sandel Avionics: www.sandel.com
Makers of electronic HSIs, now featuring TAWS, weather and EFIS capabilities.
Eastern Avionics International: www.avionix.com/guide.html
Yes, these guys sell radios and GPS receivers, but they also provide a valuable service with overviews and tips. The company also covers older models as well as state-of-the-art stuff. If you’re looking at old radios and trying to decide whether or not to upgrade (and to what), this site can be a big help, whether or not you buy from them!
Jeppesen Sanderson Inc.: www.jeppesen.com
This is a key site for users of Jeppesen charts and nav data. Database updates are available online, along with subscription services and free aviation weather.
Planning And Playing
TerraServer USA: http://terraserver-usa.com
Enter a street address or enter a location on a map. If you’ve ever tried to find your house from the air, this is a big help!
Cockpit GPS and Basic GPS Navigation: www.cockpitgps.com
Two online how-to books on GPS, written by an airline pilot. They go well beyond what’s found in your owner’s manual, covering practical aspects of using GPS for VFR and IFR navigation. It includes topics such as loss of signal, collision risk, using the simulator and demo mode to learn a GPS on the ground, using a handheld GPS with Microsoft Flight Simulator, common errors, legalities of using a GPS for navigation, how GPS works and selecting a GPS. It includes reviews of a wide range of GPS receivers by Garmin, Magellan, Lowrance, C-Map and various PDA- and laptop-based solutions. If you already own a GPS, this site will help you get the most from it. If you don’t own one yet, the site will help you pick the best one for the kind of flying you do. Download the books (or read them online) for free. The author asks for a $5 donation if you find them useful—and that has to be one of the best bargains in aviation today!
FlyteComm FlyteTrax II: www.flytecomm.com/products/flytetrax.html
It’s an online graphical flight-tracking site with weather and other information from any Web browser. A free trial is available.
This site provides online flight planning with views of VFR (basic) and IFR (premium service only) charts. It prints customized “triptick” charts showing the airspace under your route. A free “Quick Plan” feature provides basic direct-to routing with a graphical view of TFRs and controlled airspace linked to a profile showing terrain clearance. Click on the profile for a look at the kind of sectional coverage offered in the paid basic and premium-service packages. It also offers aviation weather, NOTAMs, TFRs and an online electronic logbook feature.
The One Hundred Dollar Hamburger: www.100dollarhamburger.com
It’s an online guide to fly-in restaurants, with listings for all 50 U.S. states and 18 overseas destinations. It includes reviews of the restaurants—plus 100LL fuel prices, ground transportation and reviews of fly-in hotels.
Microsoft Flight Simulator Century Of Flight: www.microsoft.com/games/flightsimulator
It’s the home page for Microsoft Flight Simulator 2004 and includes free product updates, articles on tuning for best performance, comparisons between flight simulations and real airplanes and links to the extensive community of flight sim product developers and enthusiasts.
X-Plane v7: www.x-plane.com
This is an absolutely amazing desktop flight simulator that’s largely the work of one man. Fly pre-defined airplanes or design your own. This product has been used by engineers in the development of actual experimental airplanes and as the software for a low-cost, FAA-certified, full-motion simulator. A free demo is available on the site, along with updates, tricks and tips.
Airline Pilot’s Historical Society: www.oncealoft.com
This Website is now available to collectors for a limited time. It includes cockpit and aircraft artifacts, ranging from the DC-3 through the Boeing 747.The Airline Pilot’s Historical Society is a nonprofit, charitable foundation whose purpose is to educate people through the preservation of aircraft parts and components. Control wheels, throttle quadrants, instruments, oxygen masks and life vests are used to provide hands-on experience to schoolchildren to stimulate interest in aviation. It also provides financial assistance to children’s hospitals and organizations that specialize in the needs of children. All are genuine airline, military or corporate parts as removed from salvaged aircraft.
National Museum of the United States Air Force: www.nationalmuseum.af.mil
This is the online home of the former U.S. Air Force Museum at Wright-Patterson AFB outside Dayton, Ohio. The site includes extensive photos and information on the museum’s collection of historical aircraft, missiles, engines, weapons and other artifacts. Among the many unique exhibits are one of each type of presidential aircraft, from Franklin Roosevelt’s Sacred Cow to the VC-137C that carried JFK’s body back from Dallas.
Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum: www.nasm.si.edu
This site is the home page to one of the most revered museums in the world: the Smithsonian. It includes extensive collections of photos and text on a wide range of aviation and space topics, some of which include unique Web-only features (currently, there’s one covering the Army Air Corp’s transition to a separate Air Force in the late 1940s).