Frequently Asked Questions

Will GlidePlan run on my computer? GlidePlan is designed to run on both the Macintosh (Universal Binary) and Windows platforms. Because it works with very large graphic files, faster processors and more ram are good things. For Windows, we recommend Windows NT/2000/XP/ or better, 768 mb of ram and a 1.75ghz processor or better. For a Mac we recommend Mac OSX 10.3 or better. 768 mb of ram and a 1.25ghz processor or better. To insure your satisfaction it is recommended that you download a demo version of the program with a few maps, and make sure the performance is acceptable before you buy.

How do I install GlidePlan on my computer? For the Macintosh platform, simply unzip the downloaded file (if it didn't happen automatically), and drag the GlidePlan file to your applications folder. We now have an installer built for the PC so it is even easier!
For both platforms it is important that you create a folder for maps and then leave them there. if you move or rename a map file, it will become disassociated from the GlidePlan document that uses it, and will need to be relocated when the document is opened. On the PC, the map installer will do this for you.

Where do the Maps come from? The maps come directly from the FAA. They are high resolution scans of actual current sectionals. We make a few adjustments to the maps to make them compatible with GlidePlan and post them on the site for downloading. Because these are government documents, you don't need to worry about copyright infringement when you print them, as they are in the public domain.

How do I keep the maps current? Updating your document with the current map release is simple. Upgrade your map to the latest version by downloading the appropriate files from this site or where Lynn Alley graciously provides free up-to-date GlidePlan maps as a service to the soaring community. For the Mac, place the folder labeled with the Sectional name in the "maps" folder, overwriting the old folder with the same name. Open your GlidePlan document you wish to upgrade, and select FILE>UPDATE MAP. Select the new map you wish to link the document to and save your document. That's it!

Can I use my own scanned maps? No. GlidePlan expects certain scale parameters with the map file, and using your own map file would likely result in incorrect distance measurements and calculations.

How do I print multiple pages? The latest version of GlidePlan includes powerful tools for customizing the printed area, and printing tiled pages. You can even set overlap, put a header with page numbers, and print adjacent page numbers at the edges of the map if you want to make an atlas style map book.
Here is what to do:
  • Open your document and select "Page Setup" from the FILE menu. Select your printer, orientation, and page size. Leave scale set to 100%. You can change it in a later step if you like.
  • Zoom out on your map so you can see the whole area you want to print
  • Select "Set Print Area" from the FILE menu. Click and drag out the blue rectangle over the area you want to print. If it will take more than one page, you will see a grid of blue rectangles. Notice the grid will snap to the edges of pages.
  • If you want to reposition the area, click the “Move” button in the Set Print Area window and drag your rectangle around.
  • Close the Set Print Area window and select “Print...” from the FILE menu. Print as usual.
Options and Tips:
  • If you are printing a multi-page map, sometimes you want some overlap to prevent important information from being chopped off. In the Set Print Area window, slide the Page Overlap slider to the right. You will see double blue lines appear at the page boundaries indicating page overlap. If you want to print whole pages, you will need to click define and drag out a new print area rectangle that snaps to page boundaries to compensate for the overlap loss.
  • Enter a new scale for your output in the Print Scale box. Notice your blue box print area doesn’t change size, but the page boundaries do. If you want to print whole pages, you will need to click define and drag out a new print area rectangle that snaps to page boundaries.
  • Check the Page Headers box to include basic info about the page and map at the top of each page. Check the Page Arrows box to include atlas style arrows on each edge, indicating the adjacent page number. This is handy for multi-page pocket maps. Note that the header takes up usable page area so the blue page boundaries will shrink in height a bit. If you want to print whole pages, you will need to click define and drag out a new print area rectangle that snaps to page boundaries.
  • If you plan to print a map legend, click “Legend Setup” under the WINDOWS menu. After you have entered your info. Click Show Legend and the “Locate” button at the bottom of the Legend window. Now click and drag on your map and place the red rectangle anywhere within the displayed print area blue grid.

At what scale will the maps print? If your printer output scale is set to 100%, the maps will print out at the standard sectional scale of 1:500,000. You should be able to use your plotter tool, etc. to work with the printed map, but it is a good idea to print a sample and measure it to insure your scale is correct.

What is the best paper to use when printing maps? Our experimentation shows that the inexpensive EPSON Photo Quality Ink Jet Paper works quite well. It is reasonably strong, yet thin enough to be folded for cockpit use. If you have a large format printer, the Super A3 paper size is great, covering about 115nm x 85nm on the Sectional. Most of the modern inks are fairly sweat and smear proof as well.

Can I export the finished maps to a file for use in other editing programs? Yes. use the FILE>EXPORT command to create a compressed jPEG file that can be opened in photoshop, etc.

Can I share my marked up maps with others? Yes. The document files themselves are quite small, and can be easily emailed. The person at the other end must have the same map file, and may be asked to locate it on his computer upon first opening your document. You should be able to share your document across platforms as well.

What is the difference between a distance ring and an altitude ring? A distance ring indicates lines of equal distance from a given landout. This is similar to the traditional method of marking up a sectional for cross country flying using a compass and pencil. Marked on each distance ring is the calculated altitude required to make it back to the associated landout, using the current flight parameters. Note that even at the same distance, these values will be different for landouts at different elevations. The areas where rings overlap are omitted for clarity.
An altitude ring is a more direct measurement of your ability to make it to a given turnpoint. The altitude indicated on the ring is the altitude required to make the glide. The radius of a given altitude ring will vary with the ground elevation of the airport. Therefor, if you are at or above 8000 ft MSL and inside the 8000 ft altitude ring, you know you can make it back (assuming no wind, unexpected sink, etc.) This is the preferred method of visualizing the glide cone.

Why are altitude rings at varying distances from the landout? The higher the airport or landout, the closer a given altitude ring will be to that airport. Because your arrival altitude is higher, you need to be closer to the landout to make it back.

Does GlidePlan take in to account the topography of the terrain? No! If there is a mountain range between you and your landout, it is up to you to make allowances for it. GlidePlan only considers landout elevations when calculating contours. Please be conscious of this when planning a task.

Can I change my markups later? Yes. All edits to maps are non destructive and can be changed at any time in your document. Of course exporting the map "burns" the graphics on to a copy of the map, and can't be edited.

Can GlidePlan read standard turnpoint files? Yes. GlidePlan can import the standard turnpoint file for SeeYou with the .cup extension. Turnpoint files can be downloaded from the World Wide Turnpoint Exchange There is even a link to this site inside the GlidePlan application under the "LINKS" menu. Once you have your .cup file, select "Import Waypoint File" from the FILE menu and navigate to your .cup file. Display attributes of each turnpoint can be edited individually or in groups from the "Waypoint Editor" under the WINDOWS menu.

What are the tasks used for? Creating a task in GlidePlan allows the pilot to see the distance and time it will take for each leg, as well as the totals. Because tasks are very interactive, and turnpoints can be moved, deleted, etc., it is easy to explore possible flights for the day, overlaid on the altitude contour rings. The task analysis feature also checks your task for conformance to FAI rules for various distance tasks or badges. No more surprises after you file with the Badge Lady! (OK, well fewer surprises...)

Are there other FAI tasks or rules I need to be aware of? Glideplan only addresses tasks for distance badges, not altitude or duration. However, distance tasks tend to be the most complex and prone to error in submission and GlidePlan can tell you if your task qualifies or not. There are additional rules that can salvage an otherwise disqualified task, such as declaring a start and finish point and arriving at the finish well above ground level to avoid distance penalties. Please check the FAI sporting code for all the details.

Why are tasks shown in Nautical Miles, and FAI analyses shown in Kilometers? Currently GlidePlan is limited to Nautical Miles and feet for distance units. The exception is evaluation of tasks for distance badges. FAI badge requirements are defined in Kilometers and meters, so distances are converted for this purpose.

Can I change the distance units of the map? Currently GlidePlan is limited to Nautical Miles and feet for distance units to maintain compatibility with FAA Sectionals. Future releases will have the ability to select the desired units for distance.