Flight planning & analysis software: SOAR by Luc Beerts

Flight planning & analysis software for glider pilots: SOAR by Luc Beerts

'About Soar' dialog box


SOAR is a Windows based flight planning & analysis program. It was written by Luc Beerts, initially for his personal use. The software has been available on the Internet as freeware since October 2000. It is continuously being improved.

The program provides a variety of facilities which make the planning of cross-country tasks easy. Flight recordings can be imported in IGC format and several manufacturer specific data formats. SOAR supports the viewing (animation) and analysis of up to five GPS flight recordings simultaneously. Task and flight manager functions help to keep your collection of tasks and imported logger files organised. All facilities operate within a highly customisable map window, consisting of an elevation data background and a variety of vector map elements (geographical features, airspace structure, airfields and turnpoints). In addition the map window can display user provided bitmap images (scanned maps and/or photographs) at three different resolution levels. Individual map features can easily be turned on and off. Switching the map display between different airfield/turnpoint datafiles takes no more than a second and does not require exiting the program. User defined map settings can be saved and recalled. Maps can be printed to printer and to file (bitmap image). Access to commonly used functions is made easy by three toolbars: the map navigation toolbar, the map features toolbar, and the flight analysis toolbar. A comprehensive help file explains all program features.

Various airfield/turnpoint, airspace and navigation data sets are made available for use with the SOAR program. This material is also freeware. The program's map editing functions allow users to import their own data and create/maintain their own maps.

Questions, suggestions and bugs

If you have questions and/or suggestions regarding the SOAR program, please contact the author Luc Beerts directly.

Likewise, if you discover bugs, don't hesitate to report them to the author.

Update notifications

If you want to be notified every time this site publishes a new version of the SOAR program or the navigation database, please send a mail to the webmaster directly. We will put your e-mail address on our notification list.

User contributions welcome!

Users are encouraged to share the results of their vector map editing efforts with others, by submitting the material to the webmaster of the SOAR download site.

SOAR version 5.1 (18 January 2004)

First you should take a look at the readme file. The most important changes with regard to the previous versions are described in the version history file. Starting with version 5.1, SOAR can import airspace files using the Open Air format.

Click here for the download of the program (approximately 1.2 Megabyte). The navigation database must be downloaded separately (see below).

Navigation database

The navigation database consists of airfields, turnpoints, airspace structures, roads, railroads, rivers, borders, mountain ridges, lakes, cities, and an elevation map as background. All this material is available on this website (see below). 

Airfield and turnpoint databases

Choose one or more of the following airfield and turnpoint databases:

  • Welt2000: download 1.5 MB. This is a straight conversion of the data set of Michael-Lorenz Meier which includes data from the 'Worldwide Soaring Turnpoint Exchange' maintained by John Leibacher. Contains 40000 airfields/turnpoints covering Europe, United States, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South America and the southern half of Africa. Edition dated August 2002 making use of the data attributes supported by the SOAR version 4.0 data format.

  • Europe2001: download 1.2 MB. If you are only interested in European points, we recommend using this file. It contains all relevant points from Welt2000 (edition February 2001), plus extra ones in Europe. This is the file with the best airfield info. Contains 20000 airfields/turnpoints located in Europe and the Mediterranean area. Re-issued August 2002 with some manual updates and additional data attributes supported by the SOAR version 4.0 data format.

  • Charron2004:  download 32 KB. This is the official list of turnpoints approved by the Liga van Vlaamse Zweefvliegclubs. Use this file if you are participating in the Charron On-line Contest and would like to use the traditional turnpoints. Covers 850 points in the Benelux, France, Germany, Spain, Italy and a few in Australia. Edition 2004, version dated 7 February 2004.

  • UK waypoints: download 88 KB courtesy of Andrew Pentland (version dated 11 August 2003). Covers the United Kingdom. It comprises: all licensed aerodromes; all unlicensed airfields, farm strips, microlight sites; all airport visual reference points (Vrp); all motorway junctions; all motorway service stations; major road junctions; major bridges; coastal features such as lighthouses; all lakes, reservoirs and other bodies of water; churches and cathedrals; most other BGA waypoints. 

  • WMOStationList: download 418 KB. Contains the locations of 19000 weather observation stations around the world. Full global coverage (more than 200 countries). If the point(s) you need are not in the above data files, try this one.

Each zip file contains its own specific readme file. See the general readme file for installation instructions.

Vector map features and airspace structures

Click here to launch the download of the vector map features (roads, railroads, rivers, borders, mountain ridges, lakes, cities, etc.) and airspace structures (approximately 1.5 MB). Last updated 3 July 2001. Airspace data in SOAR version 3.x format.

See the readme file for installation instructions.

Not included in the above:complete set of United Kingdom map data, courtesy of Andrew Pentland. The principal aim is to replicate as closely as possible the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) 1:250000 charts, using the same contour intervals and colors. The download is split in three parts:

Not included in the above: Danish airspace (65 KB), courtesy of Felipe Cvitanich. Updated version, dated 28 August 2001. Airspace data in SOAR version 3.x format.

Not included in the above: airspace of Central, North and East France (53 KB), courtesy of Koen Vanderputten (Updated version, 17 June 2002). Airspace data in SOAR version 3.x format.

Sample airspace data to demonstrate the new airspace display and filter features introduced in SOAR version 4.0. The sample covers part of the airspace of Belgium.

Airspace data for Belgium using the Open Air format. Can be used with SOAR version 5.1 and higher. This file contains airspace data enhanced with SOAR-specific Open Air command extensions (lines starting with "* SOAR").

Elevation data

This kind of data is not subject to change and you will only need to download it once. However some of these files are rather voluminous. Therefore the elevation data are split into blocks of 10 degrees longitude and 10 degrees latitude. You only have to download those files which you actually need. See the readme file for installation instructions. If you need elevation data files for other parts of the world, take a look in the Help file of SOAR, for instructions about where to find the data on the Internet and how to produce the files.

Click on a tile below to download the corresponding elevation data in compressed (.zip) format.

128 KB30 KBNo dataNo data7 KB20 KB2 KB
613 KB27 KB2 KBNo data238 KB150 KB4 KB
201 KB200 KB10 KB272 KB961 KB757 KB654 KB
128 bytes4 KB403 KB348 KB582 KB522 KB680 KB
128 bytes128 bytes653 KB1110 KB1173 KB1317 KB680 KB
6 KB2 KB1189 KB696 KB326 KB578 KB1132 KB

Click on the picture for a high resolution image (1024x768, 260KB)

Below are some extracts from the help file:

The map display

The core of the program is the map display. The map can contain different features:

  • Vectored: roads, rivers, borders, mountain ridges, lakes, cities, airspace structure, etc. These features can be edited via the Map Edit menu.

  • Points: airfields, turnpoints. Points are stored in the turnpoints database. The database can be imported, exported and edited via the Points menu. New airfields or turnpoints can also be created by right clicking the mouse on the spot where you want to create the point. Different symbols are used for the different classes of points:

    • Triangle pointing down: Outlanding field.

    • Triangle pointing up: ULM strip.

    • Square: Glider strip.

    • An "A": Altiport

    • An "H": Helicopter landing area

    • Diamond: Military airfield.

    • Circle: Normal airfield.

    • Pentagon: Airport.

    • A yellow "X": a closed airfield

    • A red "X": a turnpoint

    • A "+": a navaid

    The main runway orientation on airfields is depicted by a line.
  • Elevation data.
  • Bitmaps: Scanned maps, aerial photos. You can import scanned maps or aerial photos from windows bmp files via the Map Edit Import Scan menu command. Warning: most publishers of maps and aerial photos have copyright on their products. Because of this, the map files you did construct via soar can not be sold or distributed!

The way these features are displayed or printed can be set via the Map features command in the Map menu. Whether a feature is visible or not depends upon the selections made in the Map Features dialog box, the zoom of the map, and the state of the corresponding button in the Map Features Toolbar. When the mouse cursor is over some types of features, specific information will be displayed (e.g. turnpoints, airfields, airspace sectors, frequencies, etc.). This function does not work if the map window of soar is not active. In this case, click the mouse somewhere in the map to activate the map window.



A task consists of

  • A description,

  • A sequence of turnpoints (route),

  • Links to up to five recorded flights. One of these flights can be active for analysis.

An existing task can be opened via the Task Select menu command. Note that in the task menu there is no save command, a task is automatically saved every time another task is selected or when Soar is exited.

The description of a task can be edited any time using the Edit command in the Task Select dialog box. This command opens the Edit Task Description dialog box.

The Task New command creates a new Task. The existing task is saved automatically. The New Task Description dialog box will open and prompt for a description of the newly created task. You can change the entries made in this dialog box any time later on. The description doesn't need to be "unique": it is possible to enter the same description for several tasks.

Each task can contain a single route, this is a sequence of turnpoints. The route can be edited in two ways, see below. If you want to save the existing route and create a new route, first create a new task, and then start editing the new route using the route or map editing commands.

When a task contains turnpoints, the map can be:

  • Fit to the task via the appropriate toolbar button,

  • Panned to the previous / next turnpoint via the toolbar button or by pressing the tab or shift tab key.

Photo-sectors can be shown at the turnpoints via the Map Features dialog box. Two different photo sectors are available:

  • A 90 sector centred on the bisector: FAI sector,

  • A 90 sector centred on the extension of the last leg: CC (Closed Circuit) sector.

For the start and finish point, only one type of photo sector is available: a 180 sector oriented along the extension of the first and last leg of the task respectively.

The radius of the photo sectors can be set in the Map Options dialog box. The same value is taken for all sectors.

Whether the sectors are visible or not depends upon the selections made in the Map Features dialog box, the zoom of the map, and the state of the sector buttons in the Map Features Toolbar.

The route

The route is a sequence of turnpoints. The turnpoints for the route can be taken from:

  • The Airfields / Turnpoints database.

  • The turnpoints of a task declared in an IGC logger file. When loading a declared task from an IGC file, the turnpoints are stored in the task only, NOT in the turnpoints database.

The turnpoints selected in a task are always loaded in the task itself, this means that the task will not be affected by edits made to the turnpoints database. If you want you can update the turnpoints of a task from the actual database with the update button on the Task Route dialog box or the Task Select dialog box, but this function will work only for those turnpoints whose name an airfield class are exactly the same as in the actual database.

Editing the route

The turnpoints sequence of a task can be edited in two ways:

  • Via the Task Route dialog box. With this dialog box, points from the turnpoints database can be added to the task. Furthermore, it allows a print out the routing of the task.

  • Via the Task Map Edit command. This command switches the map to a special mode for editing the task. Turnpoints and airfields can be added to the task by clicking on them with the mouse. Via Map Features dialog box, you can select the properties for the map in this mode.



Via the Flight Import command a flight logger file can be converted to SOAR format. At the time, three formats are supported:

  • FAI text formatted files (IGC),

  • Filser Electronics LOG and LO4 files,

  • Soar for DOS flights.

During the conversion, Soar prompts for a description of the flight. You can change this description afterwards time via the Edit button on the Flight Select dialog box.  Every flight is stored in a separate file with the extension FLT in the directory "Flights". The name of the file on disk consists of the date (year, month, day) and a number (YYYYMMDDNN.FLT). From Windows it is not possible to know which file contains which flight. For managing purposes, use the Flight Manager Command.

Via the Flight Select command up to five flights can be opened. They are attached to the task that is actually selected. Next time the task is opened, the flights will be opened at the same time.

A flight can be removed from a task by:

  • Using the Flight Close command.

  • Selecting another one. The top flight in the Flight Select dialog box is a blank flight. Selecting it has the same effect as using the close command.

Changing the description of a flight

A flight file contains a set of description fields. Upon flight import, Soar will prompt you to fill in these fields, but you can edit them at any time later on. There are two ways to edit the description for a flight:

  • Via the Edit button on the Flight Select dialog box: for any flight.

  • Via the Flight Description command: for the active flight in the task.

Analysing a flight

The program has an elaborate set of tools to analyse a recorded flight.

First of all, you have to load one or more flights into the task you are working with, then you should activate the desired flight via one of the Flight Activate commands or via the Activate Flight control on the Map Navigation Toolbar.

You can load the same flight in as many tasks as you want.

Analysis tools

  1. On the map display:

    • the active flight is drawn in several colours:

      • White for descending portions,

      • Green for climbing portions,

      • Orange when the engine was running.

      • Markings at the turnpoints. These markings can have two colors:

        • Yellow: the turnpoint is entered, via the logger or via the Flight Analysis tools

        • Orange: calculated by Soar.

      See flight analysis for more details. These settings can be changed via the Map Features command. When color override is selected, the whole flight will be of the same color, without distinction between descending, climbing or "engine on" portions.
    • When the mouse cursor is put on a point of the flight, information about that point is shown.

  2. The Flight Statistics command. This command opens a window with general statistical information about the active flight.

  3. Several graphics can be displayed:

    • A barograph,

    • A vario graphic,

    • A profile graphic,

    • An average speed graphic.

    • An engine noise or RPM.

  4. A special dedicated flight analysis mode.

You can activate another flight at any time, even when one or more analysing tools are active.

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Revision date: woensdag, 03 maart 2004 23:06 +0100.