Weather Briefing & Flight Planning

Quick links: [FSS Info] [DUATS] [WX Info]

Flight Service Stations

If you want to speak to a real life human being, call 1-800-WX-BRIEF (1-800-992-7433) to be connected to the nearest FSS. However be aware that nearest in this context means relative to the telephone network, so the nearest FSS may not be where you think it is geographically. When the greeting message is being played, press # followed by * to be put on the queue for a living breathing weather briefer.

A list (or a pretty table) of the hard-coded phone numbers for the SoCal FSS's is given below:

Hawthorne (HHR) - (310)297-0090
Riverside (RAL) - (909)351-4141
San Diego (SAN) - (619)277-3011

Pre-recorded information (or briefing messages) can be accessed at the above (and for that matter most) automated flight service stations by pressing # and * keys on the telephone keypad, waiting for a single ring burst, and then entering the code number for the desired message. A menu of messages is announced during the initial greeting message. In general, the # and * sequence can used to interrupt any message which is being played back to allow you to select the next message. If your browser is able to handle tables, then you can view a summary of the available briefing messages common to all 3 SoCal FSS's.

The following FSS have homepages on the net with background information on their services, however do not expect to receive an official weather briefing via this method:


Quick links: [ Web-Based DUATS ] [ DUAT for pilots ] [ DUAT for non-pilots ] [ DUAT User Guide ] [ GTE DUAT Flight Planner Docs ]

The FAA's direct user access terminal system provides weather briefing and flight plan filing services via a computer terminal interface over a telephone dialup link or via the Internet. The duat service is actually provided by two contractors, GTE Information Systems Division and Data Transformation Corp.

Web Connection

There is at long last a DUATS homepage, from which you can get DUATS information completely over the web! This access works for browsers such as Netscape 3.0 or higher, MS Internet Explorer 3.0 or higher, or AOL 3.0. This secure link may require 60 seconds at 28.8 kbps to connect. Telnet is NOT required.

Modem Connection

The access number for the GTE DUAT service is 1-800-767-9989 with a maximum modem speed of 28.8k baud. Communication settings should be at 8 bits, no parity. Voice assistance is available on 1-800-345-DUAT(3828). Other added value services are also available from GTE DUAT including a simple-to-use yet powerful flight planner (with route finding capabilities) and weather graphics download (pay-per-use and extra software needed).

The access number for the DTC DUAT service is 1-800-245-DUAT(3828).The maximum modem speed is 14400 baud and 8 bits no parity is used. Voice assistance is available on 1-800-243-3828. Free communications software (MS-Windows and Macintosh) is available from DTC - details are available on-line. The software will allow briefing scripts to be created off-line and stored on your own computer for automatic execution at a later time. Weather graphics are also available as an extra cost item. Another added value (and free) feature is the ability to list all the details of special use airspaces along your planned route of flight, however a "real" flight planner is not available.

Telnet Connection

Certificated pilots should telnet to while non-pilots can only telnet to Student pilots with valid medical certicates are considered as certificated pilots because the medical certificate in this case is the pilot certificate. After the telnet connection is made, the interaction with the system is identical to that of the dialup service. Telnet users should note that link speed between GTE DUAT and the Internet can be rather slow and that sometimes it can take quite a long time for the telnet connection to be made, if your network connection does not timeout first.

So you don't think that DUAT is simple and intuitive to use? How about reading the user guide first - it is even in HTML form. The GTE DUAT flight planner is a bit more complex so it will be useful to get a bit more background information by reading its documentation. This however is only available as a plain text file and a large one at that, so you may want to set your browser to save it to disk first and then using your favourite text file viewer instead of reading it in the browser.

Weather Information

A good place to start for weather information (actual and forecast) in Southern California is the Public, Aviation and Marine Forecasts page provided by the Los Angeles/Oxnard National Weather Service Forecast Office. Also don't forget the NWS homepage itself for US-wide information.

Lots of information on the introduction of METAR/TAF within the US is available from the NWS. If you are familiar with the international METAR/TAR coding be sure to check out the US exceptions to the standards. Quick reference cards on the METAR/TAF coding formats are available in GIF (for viewing within your browser) and in EPS (for download to your computer and later printing on a Postscript printer) formats.

Weather Reports

These textual reports are mainly based on NWS data and are geared towards the average person on the streets (or the average TV viewer). Use DUAT for an official aviation weather briefing.

Weather Images

Browse through the menus and listings of the service providers for their full product offering. Specific weather imagery products which are directly relevant to aviation are also listed below.

Last updated on 16-Oct-1996