11:45 AM

Fat, Dumb and Happy.

You all know the drill when you get pulled over by the State Trooper. “I didn’t see the speed limit sign, Officer” or “I was late to go volunteer helping to feed orphaned kittens,", whatever excuse works to get you out of the ticket. My mom actually wrapped her arm in a towel once and tried to convince Barney Fife that she had cut herself and was on the way to the emergency room. It worked, but to be truthful, she was married to a Fresno P.D. officer at the time and knew every uniform in town.

But if you bust a TFR and get slapped by the FAA, saying you didn’t know about it simply won’t be good enough any more, as long as you had access to a computer at home before you departed, or at an FBO on field while transient.

The FAA has a few web sites that makes finding all NOTAMs and TFRs immediate and specific to your intended route.

Here is the 411:

Graphical TFR search:
URL: http://tfr.faa.gov/tfr2/list.html

Hot tip: Just go to the Google and enter TFRS…this way you don’t even have to remember a web address. What you’ll get as the first result is the FAA’s real-time Graphic TFR site, updated the minute the TFR hits the National Airspace System (NAS).

On this very complete site is all that you need to stay the heck away from wayward politicians or firebombers dropping their loads over a forest fire. Since these fires can pop up fast and the tankers often launch within minutes, there is always still a chance to sneak into trouble after you depart. But generally, a look at the latest TFRs before you actually phone in for your briefing is always a very good idea.

NOTAM search:
URL: https://pilotweb.nas.faa.gov

After accessing this site, you click “Flight Path Search” in the NOTAMS box, enter your departure patch, a couple of important waypoints and final destination, and submit. Up pops every possible NOTAM you would ever need, including ones for small possible alternate airports along the route. Nice way to find out if you’re going to be flying through someone’s waivered airspace over the little Airshow at Tumbleweed Municipal Airport.

NAS Real-time status:
URL: http://www.fly.faa.gov/flyfaa/plaintext.html

This FAA site shows exactly what is going on in the NAS, which major airports are being impacted by WX, and what you might expect if you are flying commercially. I check this one before leaving the house to begin any flight in the airliners. You’ll see this kind of info:

Due to WEATHER/LOW CIGS/WIND and WEATHER/LOW CIGS, there is a Traffic Management Program in effect for traffic arriving Philadelphia International Airport, Philadelphia, PA (PHL). This is causing some arriving flights to be delayed an average of 1 hour and 11 minutes. To see if you may be affected, select your departure airport and check "Delays by Destination".
There are still a few old-timers out there who refuse to use the Internets for flight planning….but their numbers are shrinking. These days, with a PC capable of surfing the ‘Nets and emailing priced at about $600 with display, there is no excuse for not having one in your house.

Computers and technology should never be allowed to replace a real phone briefing with a real human at 1.800.WX BRIEF, but checking these sites and a few WX sites like DUATS or wunderground.com before you call allows your brain to more easily wrap itself around the briefer’s words, allowing for much better comprehension of the big picture.

You really have no excuse for fat, dumb and happy anymore.

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