f we’d written this story a few decades ago, the list of weather resources for pilots would have been rather short — a flight service station briefing either in person or perhaps by phone, and the evening weather report on TV or the radio. Pilots thought they’d really made progress when the direct user access terminal system (DUATS) first appeared, allowing them to check weather from a personal computer. Smartphones and tablets, of course, didn’t even exist. Today, the array of preflight weather-briefing tools and apps to deliver the best of the U.S. government’s weather resources continue to evolve and come bundled with Garmin Pilot and ForeFlight. They are available over the SiriusXM satellite weather service and can be accessed through ADS-B ground stations with devices such as Sentry, Stratus and D3. On the Web, there’s WeatherSpork and Weathermeister, which are specific to aviation, in addition to scores of weather-related websites and apps for the masses. Of course, the days of visiting an FSS for an in-person explanation of the atmosphere passed into history years ago when the FAA handed weather briefings over to Lockheed Martin, now called Leidos. Many pilots say good riddance, but while the proliferation of tablets and smartphones can slice and dice weather around the clock, there’s more to understanding Mother Nature than simply looking at reams of data. In fact, a solid understanding of how the atmosphere normally functions is key to completing a practical pilot weather equation. The beauty of an in-person visit to an FSS was the wealth of knowledge briefers delivered on a one-to-one basis as they pulled up the latest prognostic charts or offered analysis of the data based on their regional knowledge. In the early days, it would be odd to find an FSS briefer who wasn’t a pilot. While pilots can still speak to a live briefer on the phone, much of the weather-data analysis is up to the pilot, whose basic flight training might have left them unprepared for the challenge.