Wednesday, June 11, 2014



There have been two leaders in the Aviation Apps for IPad, WingX Pro and ForeFlight. I have written about these two apps on several occasions.

I have stated if you want quality that works right every time then buy ForeFlight. To this day I believe that WingX Pro has surpassed ForeFlight in features and ForeFlight has been playing catch up. However ForeFlight is quickly catching up to WingX in features. However if you want quality over quantity I recommend ForeFlight. I do not like that ForeFlight only works with Stratus ADS-B In. It is a closed shop. WingX works with several different manufacture’s ADS-B In units, so you have a choice.

Here is the problem with WingX. They continue to put out updates that do not work right the first time. I have a major trip in 2 days that took a lot of planing with several user waypoints to circumnavigate MOA’s, Restricted Airspace and Terrain. 

WingX previous update has half the screen darker that the other half. The only way to eliminate this is to turn the IPad to full brightness. FAIL!

WingX update of today to fix the above problem crashes. I can not open the program. The only recourse I have is to delete the App, reload it and then plan my route all over again. Why, because by deleting the app and reloading, I will loose all my stored routes over the years. This is unacceptable.

I am stuck with WingX because I bought an ADS-B In unit when they first came out that does not work with Foreflight. I hate to pay another $850 for a new ADS-B unit to change to ForeFlight. I also bought a 3 year subscription to WingX that has another 11/2 years to go.

I had hoped that WingX had put all their problems behind them, but evidently the quality is still not there.

Buyer beware!


Monday, June 9, 2014


Before I get into airplane ownership I would like to give you a little bit of my aviation history. My first flight was in a Cessna 172 when I was 12 years old. My neighbor, Charlie Dolson, was a founder and 3rd chairman of Delta Airlines. I did not know what to expect flying in a small airplane, but I was excited. My only flying back then was as a passenger on the DC3. I remember when we went up it was a beautiful day, and I enjoyed every minute of it. I decided then that I wanted to fly for the Air Force. I was drafted by the first lottery held with a number of 69 and was graduating from college when told to report for my physical. This was during the Viet Nam era, and I did not want to go into the army. I called Maxwell Air Force Base, which was close to Auburn University, to enlist. I had to take my physical during final exams which was a mess. I reported to Maxwell, and I flunked my physical having a knee injury playing football the year before. Back then knee surgery kept you walking, but physical activities were out of the question.

Being married at the time I decided to continue my education and went into business. My dream flying for the Air Force came to an end, and I raised a family. Having really missed flying I decided to get my private rating. I think it cost me under $2,000. After obtaining my private ticket I decided to fly to San Diego. When I talked to my FBO I was told that I could not take one of his planes out of state due to insurance requirements. After examining my options, I decided to buy an airplane. A 1966 Cherokee 180 came on the market locally. It was loaded with every option available. It was owned by one of the FBO’s who was a Piper dealer, and the plane was pristine with new paint.

As soon as the deal was finished I started my instrument training and finished it in the Cherokee. I enjoyed flying so much I also took up glider flying purchasing a Glasflugel Carbon Hornet. I flew gliders a couple of years but enjoyed power being able to travel. I also had a Mooney 201 after selling the Cherokee, and today I fly a 1954 V Tail Bonanza which I have owned for over 15 years. 

In the winter we did not leave Scottsdale much because it was so beautiful. I had a group that went snow skiing every Wednesday and that put on some hours. In the summer we travelled anywhere we could to get out of the heat. I no longer ski so most of my winter flying is local for the $150 hamburger along with one trip to Las Vegas in April.  In the summer we still fly to get out of the heat traveling primarily to San Diego which is a 1 hour 50 minute flight. Our longest trip was to San Francisco, Seattle, Victoria, Portland, back to San Francisco, LA and home. The beauty of having one’s own airplane is; if we liked a place we would stay longer, and if we did not we would leave earlier.

I was putting 150 hours a year on the airplane and enjoyed every minute. Gas prices started to climb several years ago. I was paying $.99 a gallon for 100 LL when I started flying. I told my wife when fuel prices started to climb I was selling the airplane if fuel ever got to $2 a gallon. Well here it is 2014, and I am paying $5.50 to $6.50 a gallon and still flying although my hours are running between 50 to 60 a year now.

This brings us to airplane ownership. I do not write off any expenses for my airplane even when I travel to write a column. Therefore all costs come out of my pocket. It would be cheaper to fly the airlines anywhere we go. Flying one’s own plane is a lifestyle that I am not ready to give up. When we fly to San Diego, we carry our beach chairs, beach umbrella and cooler in the airplane. We certainly could not do this on the airlines. It takes me 4 hours to fly to Palo Alto to visit my daughter and her family and 4 hours to visit my sister in Colorado Springs. I could do either trip on the airlines in 1.5 hours at less money. 

The question is am I crazy to fly my own plane paying for maintenance, insurance, hangar and fuel. The answer is probably, but I love flying. The IPad along with an aviation app and ADS-B In makes things easier than ever for me in the cockpit with no more folding charts. I receive free weather versus paying XM $50 a month which I used to do and traffic when a plane is flying nearby with ADS-B Out. I do not do drugs and flying to me is a natural high. If I ever have thoughts of selling the airplane, they are relinquished after having to fly the airlines.

Can I justify the cost of airplane way! Can I justify the enjoyment I get from flying with my wife and charity better believe it. There are ways to cut costs by being in a partnership or flying club, but this is not for me. I know every time how my plane is landed and flown. I maintain my airplane to the highest standards with no questions asked. I also like being able to leave everything in the airplane after a trip.

I plan to fly as long as I am healthy and the money I have budgeted for flying holds out. I figure I will be done flying before the 2020 deadline for ADS-B Out, so I have not installed it in my airplane. The lowest cost I have seen is $8,500 installed for a mode C transponder no IFR GPS airplane. This is 20% of the value of my airplane. I am hoping the cost will come down in the next few years, but I am not holding my breath.

I love flying, and it is part of my life. Even if I fly just 50 hours a year it is worth it to me.