Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Technology at our fingertips

My profession is computers, but my flying is really more of a religion to me. Generally I believe that simpler is better. The Piper Cub is evidence of how wonderful flight can be with just the simple things. It was built in 1939 and has survived 71 years of bouncing around the sky and runways with very little technology. Much of the time technology makes the cockpit more complicated as is evident by the extra training required to fly a technically advanced aircraft.

I have just added an Apple IPAD to the items that I carry in the cockpit, becauseI do believe that this will simplify my flying. I always have a scramble before a flight getting all the charts and plates that we should all have when flying cross-country. None of the local FBOs carry all the charts needed, so I must think ahead to order them, and then pay for shipping. Still some charts are often back-ordered, leaving me in a lurch.

With the ForeFlight app on the IPAD I can have ALL the charts in the country for about $50 a year--IFR, VFR, and approach plates. The PowerPilot app gives me free AFDs for the entire country. I also use Dropbox which gives me easy access to scanned material like POHs, W/B, and PTSs for training and checkrides. There are a billion more apps out there. The IPAD is very daylight viewable. I was able to read it sitting on my dock last Saturday with late afternoon sun, also last week in the cockpit, and the battery is reported to last for 10 hours of continuous use. I have yet to see the battery last that long, but a full charge should last a flight.

All that being said, the IPAD could potentially be one more distraction--one that can keep our eyes inside the cockpit instead of outside looking for traffic and flying the airplane. However, used responsibly as a tool to get the charts we need and are dealing with anyway in the cockpit, the IPAD rocks.

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