ForeFlight Adds Annotations, Comprehensive Search & Rescue Functionality

The updates just keep coming! With ForeFlight Mobile 5.4 we are pleased to bring you annotations for plates, taxi diagrams, and PDF Documents, as well as time-saving features for Civil Air Patrol (CAP) and Search and Rescue (SAR) teams.


This feature allows you to add your own full-color annotations to Approach plates, SIDs, STARs, Airport Diagrams and PDF Documents. This can be useful for highlighting important elements such as crossing altitudes or taxi instructions, or adding notes to your PDF documents. Here are some examples of annotations in action:


Annotations are available to all ForeFlight Mobile customers. Additionally, annotations require iOS 6 or higher.  Due to the hardware requirements, they are not available on iPad 1.

About the Design

There are 8 kinds of annotations available: Drawing, Text Box, Rectangle, Ellipse (circle), Line, Polygon, Polyline, and Sticky note.

Here’s a table that illustrates an example of each one:

There are 8 types of annotations available

There are 8 types of annotations available

Adding and editing Annotations

There are two ways to add an annotation.

When you open a plate or PDF Document, tap the annotation button in the menu at the top of the page to display the annotation toolbar: 

The Annotation button is in the menu at the top of the page

The annotation button is in the menu at the top of the page

The Annotation tool bar

The annotation tool bar

or simply touch-hold on the plate or PDF Document until the magnifying glass appears, then release your finger to display the pop-up annotation menu:

Tap-hold, then release on a plate, taxi diagram, or document to access the Annotation tool bar

Touch-hold on a plate, taxi diagram, or document to access the annotation tool bar

Tap the button to choose the type of annotation you want to add, then adjust the formatting and color (if needed) by tapping the annotation setting button (the colored dot) at the top of the page.

You can reposition an annotation by touch-dragging inside of the selection box. Resize it by touch-dragging one of the blue “handles” around the annotation. Annotations are easily removed by tapping to select it, then tapping the “trash can” button. Tapping Clear on the annotation toolbar will remove all annotations from the page.

Annotations to the procedure or diagram are displayed every time you open the plate. Additionally, as illustrated in the image above, annotations are displayed when you show the annotated plate or taxi diagram on the Maps page.

When the new monthly data updates take effect, your annotations are preserved unless the plate name changes in the new data cycle (e.g. TEXXN5 STAR becomes TEXXN6 or RWY03 ILS becomes RWY04 ILS due to updated magnetic variation).  If the plate name changes, then any annotations you had added to the previous plate will not be shown once the new plate becomes active. The same concept applies to PDF documents – the annotations are saved if the document is updated, provided the document title stays the same.

Full annotation details are located in the updated Pilot’s Guide in the ForeFlight Mobile iPad app. Go to Documents, then Catalog, then ForeFlight or view it on the web.

Civil Air Patrol, Search And Rescue (CAP/SAR) features

With ForeFlight Mobile 5.4, we are pleased to introduce new features designed to make search and rescue mission planning and flying easier, safer, and more productive. These features are available to all customers running ForeFlight Mobile on an iPad.


We have created a separate Pilot’s Guide supplement for these features titled Search And Rescue in ForeFlight Mobile. The Supplement is available in the Documents catalog (Documents > Catalog > ForeFlight) on iPad. Be sure to download this document in addition to the 5.4 update to the Pilot’s Guide.

Here are three highlights of the ForeFlight Mobile CAP/SAR feature:

  1. Map grid overlays of CAP, CAP Cell or GARS grid lines with labels that automatically de-clutter as you zoom out.
  2. 7 different Search patterns available under the Procedures button of the Route Editor (edit tab of the NavLog).
  3. CAP, CAP Cell, GARS and MGRS coordinates that can be included in routes.

To activate the SAR features, tap on More > Settings, scroll down to the Search and Rescue section, then turn “Enable Search and Rescue” ON.

Enable Search and Rescue features in the Settings Menu

Enable Search and Rescue features in the Settings Menu

There are seven SAR patterns to choose from:

  1. Grid Aligned
  2. Circle
  3. Creeping Line
  4. Expanding Square
  5. Parallel
  6. Route Search
  7. Sector

Using the Edit tab of the NavLog on iPad, SAR patterns can be added to your route stand-alone or with route waypoints To and From the search area.

There are also three SAR Grid overlays that are available as Maps layers:

  1. CAP Grid
  2. Cell CAP Grid
  3. GARS Grid

The CAP & CAP Cell grids are available in the USA coverage area only. The GARS grid currently displays over the US, Canada, and part of Mexico. However, GARS and MGRS coordinates can be used anywhere in the world. For example, military pilots flying in Afghanistan can directly enter MGRS coordinates for missions they need to fly, and ForeFlight will instantly plot that route.

Additional version 5.4 refinements include:

  • New “Clear” button (instead of “X”) to clear route in the iPad Route Edit view.
  • Improved user-interface in the touch-planning and Airports/Airspace pop-up windows on the Maps page.
  • Updated user-interface in the Plate on Maps pop-up menu to allow adjusting of plate transparency and hiding/showing plate annotations.

ForeFlight Mobile 5.4 is iOS 7 compatible, however, we recommend caution in upgrading  to iOS 7 right away until the dust settles on initial bugs that inevitably come with significant upgrades.

ForeFlight Mobile 5.4 is a free update for current subscribers. Click here for instructions on updating to the latest version. This release includes important bug fixes, and we recommend that all users update.

As always, if you have questions our Fanatical Pilot Support Team is on frequency to assist: