Thursday, December 11, 2014


You noticed the topic of this column is for IPAD’s. If you want to fly with one of these apps you are going to have to own an IPad. The stuff that is out there for Android is really bad. 

There are basically around 5 companies in the business with only 2 dominating and 1 that really owns the business. I am writing off Jeppensen and FlyQ, with not that much positive to say about Garmin. Garmin has done an excellent job with panel mounts and portable GPS systems. They came to the IPad market late with their app and while improved, it still leaves a lot to be desired. Their AHARS only shows in a full page and you loose the moving map. This to me is unacceptable.

That brings us to the 2 leaders ForeFlight (FF) and WingXPro (WX). 

WX offers a lot of features and is the best bang for the buck if you are a VFR pilot or IFR pilot. WX offers you everything you will need IFR included for $75 a year. The only thing you would pay extra for is geo referenced IFR approach plates. WX gives you the availability of split screen views in any situation. You could have an approach plate in one screen and a chart on the other. The problem is that if you go full screen with the approach plate you loose all pertinent information on the chart. This means you loose distance to next waypoint and heading. I do not like this approach to IFR flying.
The problem with WX is I cannot rely on it. Two out of the three past trips I have taken the weather has not worked. WX does not seem to monitor the app to see if it is working. I have had numerous other quality problem with WX and therefore cannot recommend it.

FF is the other major app for IPad navigation. If you are a VFR only pilot you do not have a lot of information that is pertinent to flight. The most important thing is that you do not have terrain awareness with the VFR program. I do not think this is in the best interest of safety. You are forced to buy the $150 program to get terrain awareness, safe taxi, height above ground and other features along with geo referenced approach plates. I do like how you can overlay the approach plate on top of the chart so you maintain all pertinent information flying an approach. FF allows you to set the transparency on the plate so it does not block out the chart. FF does have one split screen with the Stratus 2 ADS-B IN unit which is an AHARS, and flying a legacy airplane like mine is an excellent feature. WX also has the same setup with a second generation ADS-B IN unit.
FF has coded weather. Nobody today with a computer or IPad needs coded weather. This needs to be updated to plain english weather briefings.

I have a real gripe with all the apps in that what ADS-B IN unit works with one app will not work with another. If you have the Garmin app you need a Garmin ADS-B. If you have WX there are several ADS-B’s to choose from none of which work with Garmin or FF. FF only works with Stratus ADS-B units. You must be very careful which app you buy and which ADS-B unit as this is a great expense. If you decide you do not like WX and want to switch to FF you will have to buy a new ADS-B unit.

I have a friend that teaches classes approved by the FAA training people on Garmin, FF and WX apps. In the class there are usually 30 with FF, 1 or 2 with Gamin or WX. Take that as you may.

After flying with WX and FF the only app I can recommend is FF, not because of the features but because FF is much more reliable!!! It works and I can depend on it.

One other recommendation I can give is do not perform an update on an app for a coupe of days after it comes out. That way if there is a bug you will usually hear of it before downloading. FF had their first bad update that I recall last month and immediately notified their customer not to download it. It was too late for some.

In closing NEVER update an app if you are going on a trip. Wait until you get home. This way there should not be any problems.

I am recommending FF because of their quality control.

Monday, December 8, 2014


AOPA has had some tough battles over the years and until recently had a pretty good record. I know my Congressman and one Senator, but I have no clout when it comes to General Aviation issues. That is why AOPA is so important to me and GA. AOPA used to have around 419,000 members but that number is way down today due to attrition of pilots dying off, losing medicals and fed up with what has happened with AOPA in the past. The estimate of AOPA membership today is around 300,000. Phil Boyer took AOPA to great strides when he was President.  It only takes a short time to destroy someones hard work, and that is what happened when Craig Fuller became President. He alienated the membership. Now Mark Baker is in office and is trying to do everything the right way and doing a good job at it. When I am no longer able to fly I will remain a member of AOPA for all the good they do for GA.

Unfortunately AOPA’s track record has not been the best on issues lately. AOPA has lost several battles on airspace redo, with GA being squeezed out on Class Bravo Airspace. It is so bad in Phoenix that we have a ceiling in the class B that has been lowered to a shelf that is lower than the mountains adjacent to it. 6 people lost their lives because of this.

AOPA just spent, with others, hundreds of thousands of dollars for a vote to keep Santa Monica, CA (SMO) open. AOPA did everything right, but unfortunately only approximately 20% of the population even bothered to vote. AOPA’s referendum was defeated. We are fortunate that the FAA and DOT has final say so on this.

AOPA has 2 major issues on the table. 

The first being elimination of the 3rd class medical. I have always thought that the 3rd class medical is a joke. AOPA petitioned the FAA to change the 3rd class medical to allow VFR flight with one passenger in an airplane of 180HP or less. The FAA blew AOPA off and shelved this. AOPA then went to Congress to change the 3rd class medical rules. Congress came up with a much better offer to fly below 14,000 feet, VFR only, in any piston airplane. It sounded like Congress was ready to move on this. Then came the midterm elections and now the holiday break and nothing went forward. AOPA will have to start over again after the first of the year. Government never moves fast, and I do not know if I will see a result in my lifetime.

The second issue is ADS-B OUT. AOPA appeared before a Congressional committee 2 weeks ago and stated that there are approximately 180,000 airplanes in the fleet. Of these approximately 88,000 are worth $40,000 or less. The minimum cost I have seen to install ADS-B OUT in an airplane that does not have an IFR WAAS GPS and Mode S transponder is $7,500 parts and labor. Do the math and owners of these planes can not afford to purchase ADS-B OUT at current prices. AOPA is asking for portable units to be qualified to handle ADS-B OUT at a much lower cost to the airplane owner. This seems like a no brainer except the FAA has never approved a portable unit for anything in the cockpit.

AOPA is all we have folks. If these two issues do not succeed I am afraid we will loose even more members. I hate to say this but there will be a lot of parked GA airplanes that will not be flying any longer which leads to empty airports. Maybe this is what the FAA wants.

If you are a member of AOPA please renew, and if you are not....please join now.