QUOTE(27driver @ Feb 2 2007, 09:12 PM) [snapback]112632[/snapback]
The WX brief is still vital, especially if you are planning to fly into a bit of weather...so call and get the briefing. Get the NOTAMs also.
Absolutely right. A pilot I know was recently working on his multi-engine rating and training at a nearby uncontrolled airport. The weather was servere clear and they were just going up for some airwork in the local area. No point in calling Flight Service for a briefing, right? Turns out that a TFR had been issued for that area a few hours earlier and was still in effect. Let's just say that had a briefing been obtained before taking off, they would have avoided the visit by sheriff deputies upon arrival.
NOTAMS (NOtices To AirMen) are seldom weather related, but include vital info for your route such as runway/taxiway/airport closures or construction, TFR issuances, inop nav-aids, unlit towers, parachute jumping, airshows, etc. so just because it's a beautiful day out doesn't mean that you don't need to get a good briefing.
And it's not only prior to flight that you need to get the latest NOTAMs. Two examples come to mind that involved me personally, both in Cessna 210s:
First one involved a rather long planned VFR cross-country flight. Obtained VFR flight following after receiving a full briefing from Flight Service. Weather was good for the entire route, but the headwinds had me calculating and re-calculating my fuel situation. When the headwinds turned out to be stronger than forecast, it soon became obvious that I would need to make a fuel stop somewhere. I looked at my chart and picked a nice uncontrolled field with a 5,000' runway that sold avgas (according to the AFD). I informed Center of my change in plans and performed the usual routine for appoaching an uncontrolled airport. I crossed the field at 1,000 AGL for a wind check and picked my runway to land. I called my downwind, base and final over the local advisory frequency (talking to myself as it turned out), only to find a row of barrels across the runway just as my wheels were hitting pavement. Hey, I was looking for a wind sock, not barrels on the runway when crossing the field...
Long story short, A NOTAM had been issued for that airport months earlier that only 2,100' of runway was available due to runway repairs. A simple enroute call to Flight Watch when choosing a re-fueling point would have advised me of this and I would have chosen somewhere else to land. Should ATC have advised me of this? Sure! But should I expect and count on ATC to advise me of this? Nope! The airport was open and it's the PIC's responsibility to know the condition of his/her destination airport, planned, or unplanned.
My second example happened at night. I landed at an uncontrolled airport in central Texas that's notorious for deer on, or in the vicinity of the runway. As it happens, it turned out to be the former. Ran right over two deer at about sixty knots right on the centerline. Luckily, we didn't sustain any significant damage, except for a rather graphic plane wash job the next morning. Most of the damage involved my appetite... But I digress.
Immediately upon engine shutdown, I called Flight Service and issued a NOTAM to close the airport due to the dead deer on the one runway. I then called the airport manager (who was fifty miles away in Austin at the time) and informed him of the redecoration job I made to his airport.
Now picture this. You are on a legal VFR flight enroute to this airport. You received a good briefing well before yours truly splattered venison all over the place. You may or may not be in contact with an enroute controller (who may or may not be looking for updated NOTAMS), which leads me to the point you've probably already concluded. Unless otherwise informed, chances are the NOTAM I personally issued won't reach you until it's too late. And it's likely that you and your airplane will have a close encounter of the venison kind that you won't forget.
122.0. This is the Flight Watch frequency to talk to people who ARE up to date with everything you need to know about your route, including live radar. Get to know them well and call them frequently. Give them periodic PIREPs and they will reward you with good, real-time vital info. And they're great folks, by the way!