Breaking free from only using ifatc.org

January, 22, 2021 by Luca Caviness

If you’re an IFATC Officer, it is very likely you have used ifatc.org for planning purposes. It hosts many terrain maps, as well as other useful features. It’s a great resource. But what to do when ifatc.org does not have a terrain map for the airport you want to control at? How do you plan? How can you become independent of the website?

For one, charts are inevitable in this circumstance. By simply searching for the airport’s approach and VFR charts, you can observe accurate high-points and peak altitudes. By using this along with fixes and VORs, you can navigate aircraft through treacherous mountains, guiding them all the way to the runway’s threshold.

Next, skyvector.com. Upon searching for an airport, click VFR Chart for ICAO. This will display important landmarks, peaks, navigation aids, and more. In the top right, you can toggle between low, high, and world charts. Try using SkyVector the next time an ifatc.org terrain map is not available for a certain airport.

Finally, and this may be obvious, fly around the airport in Solo mode. Quickly spawn in, enable autopilot and 5x mode, and fly high, fly low, fly everywhere. Fly different approaches and take note of preferred altitudes at different locations. This, paired with the methods above, serves as a great way to plan for the approach facility in Infinite Flight. Try it out!

Luca Caviness is a writer for the IFATC Education Group and an IFATC Officer and Tester. He is also a real-world student pilot.