Takeoff Aviation Weather: An App This Slick is a Rare Find in a Sea of Mediocrity

8:22 PM

By Dan Pimentel,
Airplanista Blog Editor

These days, each and every one of us has apps coming at us from all directions. So many in fact, that we must limit our downloads for fear of maxxing out our device's memory...and clogging our brains with a pool of operational data far to vast for human consumption.

All green: Nothing much happening
in the Willamette Valley
As the Editor of this blog, I get hit up for reviews all the time, and usually pass on all but the rare app that somehow attracts a morsel of my attention. And over this past weekend while on the ramp of Eugene's Airport hosting the EAA B-17 Aluminum Overcast, I received an email from "Derek J" of Real Casual Games, LLC. who had developed Takeoff Aviation Weather, yet another WX app for Android, iPhone and iPad (not first-gen, ask me how I know this...). Maybe it was the way he asked, but I decided to take him up on the freebie and give the app a test drive.

Red icon means KSFO is not a place
to try and land your Cessna 150 today.
And man, am I glad I did. It's like this:
In a world where probably 19 out of every 20 apps are complete garbage designed only to deliver casino ads to the palm of your hand, Takeoff was one that did not. While standing under a lowering ceiling at KEUG, I downloaded the app, and had it up and running in less than a minute. As soon as the app started pulling down amazingly accurate WX data, I became amused. I was watching the ceiling go up and down as the B-17 crew was deciding if they could fly the airplane, and the app was reporting these ceiling changes, almost in real-time. I am not quite sure where the app gets it's data, but I can tell you it was far quicker at reporting ceiling changes than any app I had used previously.
But it wasn't just the speed by which it pulled down the data, it's what it did with that data after it hit my phone. As far as GUI (graphic user interface) goes, Takeoff is a masterpiece:
The app displays weather information using a brilliant but simple color-coded icon system that shows ceiling, visibility, winds and crosswinds for your chosen airports. After you set your own personal minimums (or just use the apps default which were fine for me), Takeoff instantly changes the four main icons for that airport black if under your minimums, or yellow if the WX is at or above those minimums. If the WX is dangerously below your minimums, the icon becomes red. What this means, is within seconds, you can scroll through even a lengthy list of favorites and quickly glance down the screen to immediately notice which airports are clear and a million, which are getting a little "iffy", and which are in the "red, you're dead" territory.
Crosswind calculations for KSFO
This colored icon business may sound bonehead simple, because it is. That is the absolute joy of Takeoff, it does one thing very well. It does not let you plan flights or file flight plans, and it will never replace Foreflight on my flight deck. But for an app that let's you yank your phone out of your pocket and see what's up regarding the weather without a lot of thought or horseplay, this is worth every penny of the $5.99 it will cost you.

Go ahead and click here to get a better look at this fun and useful app, and then take the Airplanista Takeoff Weather Challenge:
Once you have the app on your phone or pad, configure your minimums, and save a list of your favorite airports. Then put the device away and try to forget about it. You will find that after a few minutes, you will have this app back out, and you'll be loving these colorful and extremely helpful icons. You will marvel that this app also calculates crosswinds at all airports, keeps track of the temperature/dew point spread, gives the TAF information in the same intuitive color-coded way, and provides something like 198 weather graphics from all over the world. You will try to put it away, and in seconds, it will be back out and again you'll be checking the weather. This cycle will repeat itself until you give in and admit that, like me, you are hooked. From that point on, Takeoff will most likely be your first glance at the WX before you get serious about planning your flight using your phone, computer or mobile device. Go ahead, look at it all day, I am!
Default minimums screen
Is this app perfect? No, there were a few little annoyances here and there, but they did not affect the functionality of Takeoff. I consider this a "find" and am glad to have it close by, because in the time I wrote this post, I noticed the app was reporting that crosswinds at my home field of KEUG went from "calm" to 10-14 knots from the right on my usual runway of 16L.
Color-coded icons makes it easy to
quickly see that KSFO was trouble.
Kinda spooky but also super cool how it does that. I will let someone else dig under the hood to determine where the data comes from, and how it gets digested into these pretty little colored icons. For me, I am just going to enjoy using it.

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