The primary purpose of BLIPMAPs is to help promote
enjoyable soaring by increasing one's chances of a good soaring
flight. The purpose of subscriptions is to obtain
support for the value they provide so that they can continue and
continue to be improved. Subscriptions are not intended to
unduly detract from the primary purpose of BLIPMAPs, so I am
attempting to make forecast access not be overly restrictive.
Subscription structure for this soaring season
As first announced in the BLIPMAP
2003 User Survey, I have decided that there must be some sort of
income both to keep the operational BLIPMAPs running and to support
development of future improvements, so that soaring forecasts continue
to be improved. Initially I had been thinking of having all RAP
model forecasts be freely available while limiting access to all NAM
forecasts. But after reading user responses to the user survey,
particularly the "Future" comments which some kindly took the time to
write, I altered my thoughts on how BLIPMAP access should be provided,
at least for this soaring season. Based on that feedback I felt
that I should let users decide for themselves whether the RAP or NAM
or both have significant value to them, rather than trying to
establish my own self-perceived structure. And since some only
need a "basic" forecast, I decided to make freely accessible the basic
"Thermal Updraft Velocity and "Buoyancy/Shear Ratio" parameters for
all models so that some forecasts for days after the "current
day", as provided by the NAM model, will also be freely
For access to BLIPMAP forecasts in 2004, one can choose to subscribe
to either the RAP or the NAM forecasts for a donation of $25
for the soaring season - or to both for $40. [This
2004 payment information is kept for historical reasons but is now
outdated - see the Subscription
Information webpage for current information.]
What will still be free ?
For those who only need a basic forecast or who feel a subscription would be a financial burden, I am freely providing the BLIPMAP forecast which in the recent user survey emerged as the most-often utilized parameter (and also the most accurate parameter): the "Thermal Updraft Velocity" (W*). I am also providing the "Buoyancy/Shear Ratio" parameter since a strong W* may not be workable if the B/S Ratio is very low. The free "basic" forecasts are primarily for those interested just in staying aloft near their airport - those interested in flying cross-country are likely to desire additional forecast parameters. And to allow anyone to make post-flight evaluations, all forecast parameters can be viewed as "Previous Day" BLIPMAPs or with the BLIPMAP archive viewer.
Registration will still be
required to directly access the W* and B/S Ratio forecasts, but a financial
contribution will not be required and access to those forecasts will
be provided for all models and for all times. Note
that with the recent introduction of the NAM model, this will include
freely available forecasts for days beyond the "current day", which
were not available last year.
Since BLIPSPOTs are individually funded, they will remain freely
available to all (registration will still be required for
Access to all "Previous Day" BLIPMAPs will be freely available
(registration will still be required for direct access)
I intend to allow free access from
"public access terminals", such as in a club's or commercial operator's pilot's lounge,
to all BLIPMAP forecasts. Also, for "once-per-year" special events, such as a contest,
free access will be provided upon request for the purpose of forecasting for that event.
[Also, my other soaring forecasts - the TIP and WINDIP - will always remain free.]
"But I want everything to be free for me!"
DrJack thinks that some people would also have preferred to have been born
when slavery was legal in the US! Slavery is certainly
beneficial to the slave owner (though even slavery has a cost, in that
food and shelter must be provided). But this slave is now
in revolt against the tyranny of the users!
Free weather information is available, from the tax-supported
government for example - so use it! For DrJack $25 equals a gas
fillup for his car - if someone feels that the weather information
BLIPMAPs offers over a soaring season does not have an equal value,
then they should not bother themselves with it. And again, the
"Thermal Updraft Velocity" forecasts will continue to be freely
available - which with the addition of the NAM model now includes
forecasts for days beyond the "current day".
[BTW, the recent demise of the "Navy" mt. wave forecasts illustrates
what can occur when a forecast depends upon the financial support of
those who have no interest in soaring. ]