The use of Skydemon can be a great aid to flight planning. Although the examiner will require you to prepare a PLOG in the way defined in our Ops Manual, using Skydemon (or Skydemon Light) can, at the very least, be used as a gross error check to ensure that your calculations are correct.

Although you have to pay a subscription to access the full version of Skydemon, there is a free, web-based, version that you can use. Called Skydemon Light, it is free and easy to use, but it does need an Internet Explorer plug-in called Microsoft Silverlight to be installed on your computer. Moreover, Silverlight is not compatible with many web browsers other than Internet Explorer – including Microsoft Edge, the new web browser supplied with Windows 10!

Fortunately, the old Internet Explorer browser is still available on machines that run Windows 10, but there are no default links to it from the Startup menu. Instead, it can be started by navigating to a location similar to this:

C:\Program Files\Internet Explorer\iexplore.exe

Once Internet Explorer is running properly, browse to the following address:

Silverlight will be installed if necessary as the system starts up. It may also ask you to increase the amount of memory available and then install maps for the UK if you have not used the system before.

The Skydemon Light routes that can be downloaded from the Standard Routes page are basically XML files that have an extension “.gpx”. Once downloaded, save them into any available folder on your computer; somewhere in your “Documents” folder is probably best.

When Skydemonlight is running, select its “Open” file option, navigate to the gpx folder you require and double-click it. You should then see the whole route that you will fly including the ‘diversion’ back to Oxford. Notice the altitudes at which you should plan to return – remember that this should sometimes be a Flight Level, but using Flight Levels is outside the capabilities of Skydemonlight. More importantly, hover the curser over areas of controlled airspace to see its vertical extent and carefully consider its base altitude or Flight Level during your return leg to Oxford. Remember that you will generally be required to stay outside of controlled airspace as you return.