The previous sections have been about gathering the data and understanding it, now we want to enhance that understanding and help you to think ahead.

We’re getting into the GUTS of it now!

In order to understand your weather you need;

  • some basic understanding about national, regional and local weather patterns, which you now have from the previous sections and your own research,
  • a way to organise the data to aid analysis, and
  • the ability to make a picture — a mental one or an actual one.

It takes continual practice and experience to develop your skill in evaluating and applying weather information. We encourage you to take every opportunity to learn about how the weather affects your local area and the areas you fly in.

Before you go flying, especially if you don’t fly often, take some time to get your head in the weather. We have a 7-Day Challenge you might like to try. You gather weather information by looking outside, watching the TV, or however you usually get your weather information, and then you forecast what you expect to see for the day ahead.

Once the day is over you can download the METARs from the previous day and compare them against your forecast. Wherever your forecast and the actual report differ you can look into why that might be. Perhaps you forgot to take into account the effect terrain has in your area or maybe your timings were wildly out. Whatever the difference go and find out why.

As an added bonus, this tool makes you look outside and notice what is going on in the sky, which is especially important if you plan to go flying. If you work in an office then it is really easy for the weather to go unnoticed during your work day. Spend some time noticing.

Let’s look at what creates weather and how it affects your flight, then we'll look at collating the data using tables, and then create a picture with that data.


Above mean sea level


Towering Cumulus


above ground level



Flight Information Service communications


Air Traffic Service

Royal New Zealand Air Force

in vicinity of aerodrome Thunderstorm


Air Traffic Control


in vicinity of aerodrome








Routine air report from aircraft in flight


Flight Information Region

Internet Flight Information Service


Visual flight rules

Automatic Terminal Information Service


Basic weather report

New Zealand Flight Information Region

Aerodrome special routine meteorological report

Automatic aerodrome routine meteorological report

Aerodrome routine meteorological report


Aerodrome forecast

Area forecast

Significant meteorological information