Category Archives: Flight Training

Top 10 Pilot Apps You Need to Know About

From smartphones and laptops to e-readers and tablets, personal computing devices are more advanced than ever, with applications that can do practically anything – including apps that make flying safer, simpler, and more convenient for pilots. There are even applications that help pilots to connect with other pilots. If you’re curious which applications are most useful for pilots, look no further. The following list covers the top 10 apps ever pilot needs to know about.

1. AeroWeather Pro

1) AeroWeather Pro


This app by Lakehorn AG allows pilots to check weather conditions and forecasts at their destination prior to takeoff. You can see everything from visibility to wind speed to runway conditions in one place.

2. Air Navigation Pro

2) Air Navigation Pro


Xample Sarl developed this app to assist pilots in their efforts to plan a flight with an interface that looks and feels like the instruments of a cockpit.

3. Airports

3) Airports


Peter Lundkvist developed this application to give pilots everything they need to know about their destination airports before taking off, including NOTAMs, runway data, weather conditions, and more.

4. CloudAhoy

4) CloudAhoy


This app from CloudAhoy, Inc. allows pilots to use the GPS receiver on their iPad to record flights and retrieve the data later on from any location. It’s the ultimate debriefing app.

5. FAA Airplane Flying Manual

5) FAA Airplane Flying Manual


Insomniac Industries put the most pertinent information from the FAA Flying Manual in one place so pilots are set up for a safe trip every time. This free app is an excellent refresher when pilots forget emergency procedures and other information in the rush of the flight.

 6) FBO Fuel Prices

6. FBO Fuel Prices

The team at GlobalAir .com developed an app that makes it easy for pilots to check the latest FBO fuel prices and ramp fee information before heading to their destination and fueling up. The app was developed to work in-flight or in Airplane Mode.

7. FlightPlan

7) FlightPlan


Jeff Cardillo’s FlightPlan – Pilot’s Toolbox tak es the guesswork out of common calculations with everything from weight and balance calculators to conversion calculators to a cutting-edge E6B slide rule computer, making calculating simple.

8. LogTen Pro X

8) LogTen Pro X:
the Pilot Logbook

Coradine Aviation Systems developed a logbook replacement app that some say is one of the greatest applications for pilots on the market today. Now those bulky, old, hard-to-use logbooks are a thing of the past.

9. WnB Pro

9) WnB Pro


This application from Angell Development LLC is the go-to tool for weight and balance calculations. Pilots receive an accurate weight and balance calculation for their exact aircraft and a warning if the inputted baggage, fuel, and passenger weights are out of the safe range.

10. Spin-A-Wind

10) Spin-a-Wind


Last but not least, this app from Len Robinson goes above and beyond the basic weather conditions to provide pilots with a more accurate picture of the crosswind, headwind, tailwind, and other conditions at the destination runway and its surrounding area.

Pilots are relying on apps to do everything in this day and age: charting their routes, viewing the pertinent weather maps, completing safety checklists, getting help with navigating, and much more. From a technology standpoint, there’s never been a better time to be a pilot.

Emergency Procedures Course Review

Over the last couple of years I have taken both Coast Flight Academy’s Emergency Procedures Course and Instrument Refresher Course. If you own / fly a SR22, and don’t get in nearly as many hours as you’d like, use your instrument rating primarily to file IFR to VFR on top when the marine layer hanging around, shoot the same approaches all the time to keep current, ever wonder about turning back to the airport on a engine failure on take off, and when should I be using the CAPS system, then I highly recommend both courses. The courses include presentation material with questions and answers followed by several hours in the Coast Fight Redbird simulator. On the simulator you will experience, practice, and learn things that are not possible in the real plane. For example, with an engine failure on take off, you can practice turning back to the airport or pulling the CAPS handle so that the reactions to these emergencies become automatic. You can fly an instrument approach into any airport under any conditions and have system failures along the way. Both courses are great for maintaining important skills and knowledge. They build confidence in your decision making process which adequately prepare you for real emergency situations.

–Tom Brotherton

 

ForeFlight

ForeFlight Mobile has released Version 4, the latest version of its popular app for the iPhone and iPad, to help guide pilots on the ground and during flights. The ForeFlight software application has been popular among pilots of small planes since its initial release, and Version 4 promises to offer even more helpful tools for flying such as a new airspaces feature, integrated FAA “green book” A/FD, navigation log, personal waypoints, plates organizer, and more. The technology isn’t perfect yet, but the latest version is a good additional resource to supplement the knowledge and on-plane tools that every pilot is working with.

The Pros of ForeFlight Mobile HD Version 4

Many pilots rave about ForeFlight for the instant access to A/FD, airport intelligence, flight planning, high quality weather and service providers, as well as its customized system for radar, satellite data and visualizing charts that assist in flight or at the airport. It offers a Download Manager that provides the latest data on a 28-day cycle, flight planning tools, and enhanced weather forecast imagery.

Version 4 does provide some striking enhancements, which are particularly helpful in the following areas:

  • Able to check airspace, fuel prices, NOTAMS, TFRs, weather, and wind aloft
  • Approved source of FAA chart supplements
  • Downloads approach plates, diagrams, IFT charts, and VFR charts for the entire U.S.
  • GPS moving map
  • File flight plan
  • Provides accurate airport information
  • Weather information on board
  • With a Bad Elf external antenna you will have GPS while in flight
  • IFR and VFR charts available
  • FBO information is available for every airport in country, it will have the contact numbers and the current fuel price.

Emergency Procedure Refresher Course

An in-flight emergency can occur at any moment. And depending on how long you’ve been flying, the skills and procedures you once learned about how to react in an emergency situation, may not remain clear in your memory years later. Even if you feel fairly familiar with emergency procedures, there is never such a thing as being too prepared for an emergency. For this reason, Coast Flight Training is offering an emergency procedure refresher course. After just one day, you will be far better off in any emergency flight situation than you were before.

The day is broken up into two hours of ground school and four hours of simulation, where you will be given the chance to react to an emergency in a very real and impacting way. The simulator time will be broken up into two lessons that airlines use to train their pilots. The course will involve both practical and real scenario lessons.

During the course, your instructor will go over routine emergency procedures, as well as abnormal procedures. You will be provided with methodology to handle any emergency in the most efficient and effective way possible.

The many benefits of a simulator course in handling emergencies include:
Inexpensive Cost. The simulator costs much less when compared to emergency training with an actual airplane.
Valuable Experience. Participants are allowed the opportunity to react to an engine failure and other hazardous situations. Participants are also able to have the experience of being in a real-time flight situation. You will learn quick decision-making skills, and have the option to terminate or avert flight.
Learning From The Past. Participants are able to experience and react to an example accident that has actually befallen other pilots. In the program, students are able to learn from their mistakes and access the procedures that would have made for a successful flight.
Memory Refresher. The course keeps skills fresh and ensures that you are adequately prepared to handle any emergency.

What Does “Roger” Really Mean?

For most of us, we learned to use the word “Roger” early in our aviation career. We learned that it simply means that we heard and understand what the other person said. We were clearly taught that it connotes no permission or authorizations. For whatever reason, we then go through our career or hobby of flying and hardly ever use that word. And we seldom hear it spoken by ATC!

So what happens when we have a problem on the airfield and we tell ATC that we need to do something and they say “Roger?” What does that mean? Let me give you a recent example.

A C-210 received ATC clearance to taxi via Taxiway Juliette and to cross Runway 1/19. En-route, the C-210 pilot advised ATC that the aircraft just blew a tire. The pilot requested to exit the aircraft to inspect the wheel. The Tower authorized the pilot’s request and asked the pilot to advise if he needed help.

At this time, a C-172 reported inbound with a request for full stop landings or touch and go’s on Runway 1. The tower cleared the C172 as requested. (Can you see the Runway Incursion scenario developing?)

The C-210 pilot came back on the frequency stating he had a wheel come apart. The Tower asked his intentions, and the C210 pilot said if he moved the aircraft it would do damage and requested to go to an FBO. (Getting to the FBO from the damaged C-210 would require a runway crossing.) The Tower responded “roger.” The pilot responded, “Thank you very much.”

The Tower then observed two men on foot walking towards the runway. The tower called the C-210 several times with no response. The Tower, after observing the men crossing the actual runway told the inbound C-172 to go around and enter right traffic for Runway 1, later changing clearance to land on Runway 5.

It appears to me that with the additional stress caused by the blown tire, when the pilot made his request to go to the FBO, he expected the Tower to give him a “Yes” or a “No”, and when the Tower replied with a simple, “Roger,” he forgot his early training that “Roger” is not an authorization — and started hiking!

Fortunately, the pilot of the C-172 executed a proper go-around and landed safely on another runway.

The Aeronautical Information Manual is the authoritative source for proper aviation communications. You might want to take an opportunity to review communication procedures in the AIM: http://www.faa.gov/air_traffic/publications/atpubs/aim/. But most of all, remember your early training – “Roger” only means that someone heard what was said; it does not give authority to do something.

Remember that crossing any runway, whether in an airplane, a vehicle, or on foot, always requires a specific authorization from ATC.

Have a safe and enjoyable Summer of Flying!

PREPARING For TAKEOFF

As senior Trevor Rogers was taxied onto the Montgomery Field runway, he took a deep breath.

“Montgomery Tower, Cirrus six-three-zero-sierra-foxtrot holding short two-eight right for an eastbound departure,” he said into his radio.

“Six-three-zero-sierra-foxtrot clear for eastbound departure two-eight right,” the tower crackled back.

And with that short exchange, Trevor was granted permission to fly the Cirrus SR-20. He leaned forward, closed his preflight checklist, and pulled onto the strip. As he began to pick up speed to prepare for takeoff, his face tensed slightly in anticipation. “When you’re taking off, it’s like, ‘Well, there’s no turning back now,’” Trevor said. “For the most part, once you’re going [on the runway], you have to get airborne. You can’t just stop and turn around.” Turning back isn’t something that Trevor would do though, not after all of his hard work. For him, earning his private pilot’s license last July was just one step in his ultimate dream of becoming a fighter pilot in the Air Force. “I’ve wanted to be in the military since I was little,” he said. “But when I was little, flying [didn’t seem like] a reality. When I actually went to the [Air Force Academy’s] summer seminar though, it became a reality.”

For a reality though, it was one that didn’t come easy. While earning his license, he had his grades to keep up and flight school, which dominated a large chunk of his time. And, since Trevor hopes to earn for a spot in the Air Force’s highly competitive Undergraduate Pilot Training (UPT) program after college, both his high school and college GPA need to be near perfect.

“It’s going to be really stressful,” he said. “I’m not going to be able to have as much fun necessarily because I’ll have a lot of work to do. It will be all worth it in the end because I’ll have a guaranteed job in the military serving my country.”

Trevor is stepping up to the challenge though. Ending the year with his GPA above a 4.0, his license gained, and even an $18,000 AFROTC scholarship, all that is left for Trevor is to keep moving forward and to keep doing what he loves—flying.

Westview High School Yearbook. Anne Yilmaz 2012

Weather Inside And Outside Of The Cockpit

In the coming weeks, pilots can expect to see mountain waves in several snowy, mountainous regions. When wind flow is perpendicular to a mountain, as the wind velocity and altitude increase during an inversion below 15,000 feet, or a stable air mass layer aloft, mountain waves will occur. These atmospheric disturbances are characterized by lenticular clouds that alert pilots to their potentially deadly presence. It’s possible to predict mountain waves and other atmospheric disturbances with a high level of accuracy, though, giving pilots a chance to decide whether or not to fly under such conditions.

How to Check for Weather Conditions Before and During Your Flight
There are a couple of ways to check the weather for disturbances such as mountain waves before you fly, mainly through observations and weather forecasts. There are also online weather resources, including the Aviation Weather Center and DUATS.

Observations:
• Metar – Airman’s meteorological reports
• Radar Summary Charts – Reports showing analyses of precipitation surface with cold fronts, warm fronts and areas of high or low pressure
• Surface Analysis Reports – Focus on areas of high or low pressure, as well as cold or warm fronts
• U.A. – Real-time reports from fellow pilots (recommended)

Weather Forecasts:
• 12/24-Hour Prognostic Reports – Show where cold fronts, warm fronts and areas of high or low pressure are going to move
• F.A. – Explains reasons for weather forecasts in different areas
• TAF’s Terminal Aerodrome Report – Provides expected future weather for area surrounding airports (not available for all airports)


Deciding Whether or Not to Fly – Know Before You Go
In addition to mountains waves, thunderstorms are also a serious danger to pilots during this time of year. You should always be ready to change your plans or land if you’re presented with scattered storms, as the pilot did on a recent SR22 flight from San Diego, CA to Sarasota, FL, which is pictured below.


The pilot used an Avidyne radio and XM Satellite Weather to predict the weather and made the important decision to land.  In order to make a proper go/no go decision, it is necessary to understand the weather and where and how it is generated, so you can effectively predict whether atmospheric changes are likely to occur in the areas where you will be flying. Pilots who are proficient at flying in different environments may also be able to take more risks, whereas inexperienced pilots are in greater danger when flying into mountain waves and other atmospheric disruptions. Pilots should always look at weather observations and forecasts before flying, recognize their personal limits and the limits of their plane, and be ready to make adjustments during the flight if necessary.

Features and Benefits of The Cirrus Perspective By Garmin

Cirrus caused a buzz in the aviation world in 2008 when the aircraft manufacturer finally launched the much-awaited Perspective. The Cirrus Perspective by Garmin is a standard cockpit. It employs many of the same underlying technologies as the G1000 system, but is designed solely for Cirrus’ specifications. It offers numerous benefits and new features that Cirrus pilots will surely appreciate.

These are the most exciting features and benefits of the Cirrus Perspective by Garmin:

  • Autopilot Control Yaw Damper: The yaw damper reduces rolling and yawing oscillations caused by Dutch roll mode, and the new version has an intuitive autopilot control system.
  • Flight Management System: The FMS in the Cirrus Perspective by Garmin is a more user-friendly version of the computer system that automatically performs many in-flight tasks.  It basically gives the pilot a keypad like your computer.
  • Flight Path Indicator: This technology provides a clear display of the path the airplane is on at any given time.
  • HSI Display: This display shows a predetermined course for the pilot, which replaces the gauges and other hardware that pilots have traditionally relied on to create a mental picture of the situation their airplane is in.
  • New Autopilot: The Garmin autopilot offers a blue level button.  The will level the wings, recover unusual attitude and provide flawless instrument approaches.
  • Synthetic Vision: This new virtual reality display system for cockpits uses 3D technology to give pilots a clearer and more insightful understanding of the environment in which they’re flying.
  • Terrain Avoidance Warning System: The TAWS is highly reliable and efficient, as it automatically warns the flight crew of potential collisions with terrain, giving the crew plenty of time to react before danger strikes.

This is truly the safest cockpit option available in general aviation!

How To Plan For Winter Flying

Winter is a popular time to travel.  Everyone wants to visit to family, friends, go skiing all in different areas of the country in a short holiday season.  Although winter weather conditions can create higher risk challenges, many pilots can’t help but to continue experiencing the wonders of aviation during the winter months.

If you plan on flying on your own this winter, you can have a safe and enjoyable experience, as long as you take a few extra precautions and spend a little more time planning.

Tips for Safe Winter Flying

  • Proper preflight planning is crucial – imagine all the possible worst-case scenarios before you head out onto the runway.  Remember that icing levels are lower this time of year.
  • Check all pilot reports before flying for icing conditions, airport closures, cold fronts, cloud locations and other issues that could affect your flight.
  • Air traffic during the holidays is often much worse than any other time of the year. Take this into consideration and allow for extra time to get to your destination.   Expect runway delays, and runway closures due to snow and ice.

  • If you are taking any passengers, make sure to brief them of potential scenarios and the potential for delays due to weather, airport closures and heightened air traffic.
  • Remember that temperatures in the atmosphere could dip as low as -30 degrees, and that turbulence is often much worse in the mountain areas that are popular winter destinations.
  • Get proper night training before flying with passengers in the wintertime, because the sun sets earlier and you may be forced to fly at night. In order to get night-current with your training, you must complete a minimum of three takeoffs and landings to a full stop at night within the past 90 days.

Preflight Checklist for Small Airplane Pilots

Before taking flight in the winter, the last precaution you must take is going through this additional pre-flight checklist for cold weather conditions:

  • Confirm that the heat works and that the heater is not leaking.
  • Check that all de-icing equipment is working properly.
  • Prepare instruments for holding.
  • Pre-check the safety kit and update the kit if anything is missing. Make sure you have a good knife, fire starters, a signal mirror and medical supplies in case of an emergency.

Understand Your Icing Charts

In order to avoid plane stalling, rolling, pitching or, in the worst-case scenario, total plane failure, it is necessary to study your icing charts before you fly if there’s any remote possibility of cold weather conditions during the course of your flight. There are several different options to help you understand what the potential for icing is. According to aviationweather.gov, there are four types of icing charts:

  • Freezing Level Graphs – These graphs show altitudes where the air temperature is freezing, and include charts and area forecasts showing freezing and moisture levels to help predict the potential for future icing.
  • Icing SIGMET Charts – A forecast tool that shows severe icing; abbreviation of Significant Meteorological Information.
  • Pilot’s Reports of Icing – This is a precise and constantly updated resource for pilots, providing accurate information about what’s happening right now in the sky. Pilots let fellow pilots know where they were flying, what altitude they were flying at, whether they went through any ice and, if so, how intense it was.
  • Supplementary Icing Information – The CIP and FIP are additional resources, but they’re only recommended for professional meteorologists.

How Coast Instructors Make Students Comfortable With Radio Communication

Will Dryden is the President and founder of Coast Flight Training. He is a career instructor with both Master Flight Instructor and Gold Seal Certified Flight Instructor designations. Will founded Coast with the focus of breaking aviation flight training paradigms (www.iflycoast.com).

The perfect way to reduce students’ anxiety about radio communication is to start by explaining to them that the air traffic controller they’re talking to is most likely wearing shorts and a Hawaiian shirt, and sipping a cup of Joe. He or she is nothing to be afraid of. The job of the ATC is to keep the pilots safe and help them when they have questions.

A common mistake instructors make is telling students that ATC radio calls have to be perfect and in a particular order. Instead, the instructors should encourage students and be positive. And while instructors should initially avoid fixing their students’ communication mistakes, it’s important that the students can rest assured that the instructor is there to back them up and can finish the call for them, in case they are having trouble.

Here are some simple steps to improve students’ radio calls:

  • Let the student talk on discreet pilot-to-pilot frequencies, without the pressure of talking to a controller. Have the student call “in the blind” to get used to hearing his or her own voice in the headsets.
  • Use a full motion simulator with an intercom system to practice radio calls under simulated circumstances.
  • Prior to each flight, go over what needs to be said to the controllers during airport operations by role-playing until the student is comfortable with the wording.
  • Teach the student to anticipate what communication is coming and how to respond to or initiate it.
  • For some students, it helps to let them write down exactly what to say on a cheat sheet, but this technique should really only be done during their first couple of flights.

Radios are often difficult for students. Air traffic controllers talking fast can be intimidating, creating a psychological “mountain” for the student. Reminding students that they’re just talking to that guy in the Hawaiian shirt enjoying his coffee can generally ease a lot of the pressure, and by identifying themselves as “student pilot” will alert the ATC to give them the extra attention they need and deserve.