by James McCanney
Aviation Representative & Pilot for Aeronautics
Published in Midwest Flyer Magazine April/May 2022 online issue.
MnDOT Aeronautics added a new feature to the Minnesota Airport Directory and Travel Guide three years ago. We developed a ForeFlight Content Pack and made it available for anyone to download and add to their ForeFlight app. The MN Airport Directory Content Pack takes everything great about the MN Directory and Travel Guide and makes it accessible on your iPad via ForeFlight.
This year, we separated the seaplane bases from the main Content Pack, to create a the new MN Seaplane Base Directory. And, we added a third content pack named MN Seaplane Water Depths. The water depths Content Pack shows water depth contour lines for many Minnesota lakes.
If you’re unaware of our printed Airport Directory and Travel Guide, it provides Minnesota public airport and seaplane base information, along with some information about local attractions near Minnesota’s public airports.
The Content Packs and printed directory typically include a map of the airport layout with runway numbers and length/width. The “travel guide” portion includes local attractions, ground transportation information, lodging, restaurants, underwing camping information, nearby campgrounds, and airport events. The seaplane base directory includes all the MN public seaplane bases and travel information. Some of the seaplane base diagrams in the MN Seaplane Base Directory include contour lines of lake depth data and terrain data obtained from the DNR.
The next time you’re thinking of flying to or through Minnesota, and you’re a ForeFlight user, please download our new content packs at www.dot.state.mn.us/aero/airportdirectory/index.html.
The MN Seaplane Water Depths Content Pack expands on the contour lines included with the seaplane base pages. It shows water depth contour lines for every lake surveyed by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, and covers most of the lakes in Minnesota. MnDOT used the DNR’s lake depth data for Minnesota lakes and created a layer pilots can download and push to ForeFlight. Pilots can turn on/off the layer, like any other layer in Forelfight (obstacles, traffic, radar). The contour lines are geo-referenced. As ForeFlight users move the map around, and zoom in and out, the water depth contour lines adjust. Having access to this data in ForeFlight can help pilots during flight planning, and in the air.
To download and start using the MN Airport Directory Content pack, visit www.dot.state.mn.us/aero/airportdirectory/index.html. That web page also includes a link to ForeFlight’s website, which provides various ways to install the content pack. The easiest way for most people to install one of the MN Content Packs is to email it to yourself.
The MN Content Packs can also be downloaded on a computer and sent as an attachment to yourself or others – just open mail on your iPad, tap, and hold the email attachment. Once the “share” option appears, scroll to find ForeFlight and select “copy to ForeFlight.” This will bring the Content Pack into the More > Custom Content part of ForeFlight. From the Custom Content, users can open the MN Airport Directory Content Pack within ForeFlight and view all of the content. Two of the best ways to use the Content Packs are by searching for a MN airport, or finding one via the map. Once on the airports page, go to procedure, and you’ll see MN Airport Directory. If it isn’t highlighted, tap the MN Airport Directory, and the directory page will be available to tap (right-hand side). Clicking on the directory page will open a new “Plates” page and display the directory, just like an approach chart. Swipe to display the second page.
MnDOT plans to make all phone numbers and email addresses hyperlinks as soon as possible. We would also like to update the MN Content Packs throughout the year, and keep all information as current as possible. To accomplish that, we’ll need the help of pilots who use those airports and these content packs. Pilot feedback is the quickest way for MnDOT to learn if a restaurant or hotel has closed, or if there is something new and exciting at an airport or a city. If you hear of something new, or ever visit a new place while out flying, please let us know, and we will gladly add it to the list of items in the directory. We want this Directory and Travel Guide to be helpful to pilots, and also to the airports and the cities nearby.
As more pilots continue using the iPad and ForeFlight app, we hope to find more ways to improve our digital MN airport and seaplane directories. The MN Content Packs give us a better chance to grow the travel guide and add enhanced information that we don’t have space for in the paper version.
MnDOT wants to know your thoughts and suggestions on how this product enhances your flight, what we could do to improve it, and how we might help make your travel experience in our state more enjoyable. Any feedback, suggestions, comments or new information may be sent to email@example.com.