Pre-flight briefing

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8.33 radio frequencies

Weather conditions

  1. Pick a suitable forecast site from Weatherjack's weather data and use it to see if the day is likely to be suitable for what you have in mind. If you're in England south of the Pennines, you have other choices, which include:
  2. Check the synoptic charts and/or look at METARs to get an idea of wind strength, direction, and how good the day is likely to be. Use your favourite site:
  3. If there's a chance of heavy cloud or rain, look at the satellite images to see what is in store:
  4. If volcanic ash warnings are in force, look at the Met Office advisories:
  5. Check the soundings using one of the RASP tools:

Now you have enough information to plan a task and alternates.

If you're doubtful about getting round, use the Stratus Track Average tool to see if its doable and get a predicted flight time.


With the task planned you must check the NOTAMS for flight restrictions and warnings.


The following summary assumes that you're flying a closed task from Gransden Lodge that's entirely within the London FIR and that you do not intend to climb above cloud base. If any of these assumptions are untrue you'll have to modify your NOTAMS request accordingly.

Go to the National Air Traffic Services Ltd web site. This is free but requires registration.

You need to request a NOTAMS and then a UK Narrow Route brief. To minimise the amount of irrelevant information specify:

Leave all other boxes on their default values and click Submit to generate a NOTAMS briefing. Scan through the briefing. Mark any hazards on your map and you're ready to declare your task to the Duty Instructor and go.

These suggested settings should give the required results but check them carefully. I normally use SPINE (see below) and these directions are adapted from the NATS site as it was when I last used it in anger: it has been redesigned since then and not in a way that helps glider pilots. I think the way I've suggested you set the route width and destination should cover anywhere you're likely to end up while you're on task. If GRL is not at one end of the task, then set the departure and destination points to either end of the task and adjust the width so that anywhere you intend to go to either side of this line is covered.

NOTAMS via the SPINE graphical tool

Alternatively, you can use the SPINE desktop tool to check NOTAMS. This application was written by Jeff Goodenough, who also wrote TPSelect. SPINE lets you add your planned task to the on-screen map which shows airfields, BGA turnpoints and plottable NOTAMS, making it easy to set yourself a task avoiding restricted airspace. SPINE reads NOTAM data directly from the AIS web site and is capable of exporting it in either TNP or OpenAir so that it can be displayed on task by suitable navigation programs, e.g. LK8000, Winpilot or XCSoar.

Hazards near Cambridge

If there are NOTAMS for any of the following, check their websites for launch schedules:

Cambridge Gliding Club

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