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5 Answers

Weather Briefing

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Student Pilot

I am going to call a weather briefing in the morning and I am very nervous.

And I have one question I cannot find the answer to...how do you request a local flight? Because tomorrow, my instructor and I will be flying to a local airport (I'm not sure which one) to do take-off-and-landings and then will probably stop at another airport for a few more then fly back to my home airport. Is it possible to request that?

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5 Answers

  1. John D. Collins on Sep 18, 2012


    Don’t be nervous, the briefer is there to help you. Just ask for a local briefing for the area around your home airport. There are no special words you have to use although the briefer will ask you for the airplane N number, your aircraft type and the time of the flight.

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  2. Koehn on Sep 18, 2012

    Relax. The briefers are very kind and are there to help you. There’s nothing that can go wrong when talking to a briefer on the phone (but plenty can go wrong if you don’t!). It’s not like talking to ATC in that nobody else can here you.

    When you talk to a briefer they need to know your flight rules (VFR for you), tail number, departure airport, route of flight, departure time, altitude, and duration of flight. Simply tell them what you plan to do in plain English and they’ll ask you for more information if they need it.

    Don’t expect to tell them everything perfectly on the first try; even if you do they’ll miss something you say and ask you for it again. The briefers are used to talking to students and are patient.

    The briefer will tell you the weather, NOTAMs, TFRs, etc. Listen and take notes as needed. Like ATC this all comes in a standard format so over time you’ll get used to the cadence of it. Ask questions if you need further clarification or if you miss something. The most important thing is that you understand what they’re telling you so that you don’t fly into a situation you’re not prepared for.

    Have a fun flight!

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  3. Bob Watson on Sep 18, 2012

    A couple more comments to add to the good advice above.

    1) tell them you’re a student pilot otherwise they might rattle everything off too quickly for you to copy.

    2) after you tell them all the things that Koehn lists, they might ask if you want a standard briefing or an abbreviated briefing. Ask for a “Standard briefing and NOTAMS.”

    If you want to see what they’ll be reading to you, go to http://aviationweather.gov/adds/metars/ . Enter the airports you might visit, check both TAFs and METARs, and select “Translated.” Reviewing that before you call will give you an idea what they’ll tell you when you ask for a briefing.

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  4. Amelia Roush on Sep 18, 2012

    Thank you, guys.

    I made the call and it was a relative success. I reversed the order of the letters for my airport and the briefer got a bit confused and agitated, but we straightened it out. I know just making that first call will give me more confidence when making my future ones.

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  5. Ryan R on Feb 10, 2013

    Great answers !!!!
    There is no doubt that calling fss is nerve racking. Your pressed for time, your instructor is listening as well as everyone in range to hear your voice. Your trying to sound like a pro while you start spitting out numbers and letters to a stranger over the phone. I bet the FAA plays back my student pilot briefings just for laughs lol. I was pretty bad, I think I still screw up winds aloft but I also get a standard briefing from duats just to get more detail. I would recommend to call FSS everyday until you get comfortable with getting information verbally. This made a world of difference for me, less stress for me, for my instructor, and for the briefer. Calling everyday will also help you to make the connection between textual weather and real world weather because you will see how it comes together.
    FSS is a life saver- literally!

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