WeatherSpork (@weathersporkapp) has a very elegant and simple design that is mission-oriented. Even for the most technically-challenged pilot it will only take you a few minutes to harness its true power. Furthermore, it’s designed to be nearly identical across platforms with very few exceptions. So once you learn how to use the app on one platform, you are a guaranteed expert on the rest.
When you call 1-800-WXBRIEF or use many of the popular flight planning apps to get a weather briefing, they are typically focused on departing at a specific time in the future. WeatherSpork, however, has been designed to be oriented around the mission. This signature feature called the “Wheels Up Departure Advisor” leverages dozens of forecasts so you can quickly pick out the most favorable time to fly. On the map, route and grid view, tapping on the Estimated Time of Departure (ETD) button at the bottom-center of the display will bring up the Wheels Up Departure Advisor.
Shown in green, blue, red and magenta on the Departure Advisor time line are the VFR, MVFR, IFR and LIFR flight categories, respectively, for stations (airports) along your proposed route. This allows you to quickly see when the route will have the best weather…or perhaps the worst. On a touch screen (or using a mouse), just press and hold down the filled circle (time selector) and drag to the right (and left). As you advance the time, you’ll notice the station markers on the map will also change color representing the surface weather conditions (flight category) at the time shown above the time selector. Gray station markers indicate a lack of ceiling, visibility or sky coverage in order to determine the flight category.
Once you’ve chosen your departure time (and picked up your finger) you can press and hold down the airplane (jet) located at your departure airport and drag that along your route. As you move the airplane along your route, you’ll also see how the weather is expected to evolve while you are en route to your destination. If you have elected to display SIGMETs and/or G-AIRMETs from the settings (gear button), they will also change based on their valid time as the airplane is advanced backward and forward in time. By the way, you don’t have to keep your finger directly on the airplane as you drag. In fact, once you start to move the airplane with your finger pressed against the display, just shift your finger away from the airplane, while dragging. This allows you to better see the markers along your route. Give it a try!
We’ve got some real cool stuff planned for the Wheels Up Departure Advisor, so stay tuned to The Spork Report.
“Most pilots are weatherwise, but some are otherwise.”
Weather Systems Engineer