Monday, December 31, 2012

FAA Safety Team: Request from ATC

Monday, December 31, 2012 @ 8:00 AM

We received this Briefing Sheet from the FAA Safety Team, normally issued only to airline pilots through the Air Traffic Safety Aircraft Program (ATSAP), with the request to share it with General Aviation (GA) pilots as well.  As you will read, Air Traffic Control (ATC) wishes that pilots be more aware of the problems that result from not reading back their call sign.

» FAA Briefing Sheet

One of the best resources for improving your radio skills is to listen to LiveATC.net, a freely accessible online resource that streams air traffic control from airports around the world.  Feeds are available via the iFlightPlanner Airport/Facility Directory.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Let’s Go Island Hopping!

Friday, December 28, 2012 @ 8:00 AM

This time of year it’s pretty common to catch people daydreaming about being on a sandy beach somewhere warm and tropical.  What you may not know is just how easy it is for a pilot to turn those dreams into reality!

In his article “Let’s Go Island Hopping,” in the November/December 2012 issue of FAA Safety Briefing, author Tom Hoffmann reviews what’s needed and how to plan for a flight to the Caribbean.  “After reviewing what’s involved, you’ll soon see it can be both a fun and educational flying adventure, with plenty of good resources to help you along the way,” says Hoffmann.

» FAA Safety Briefing, November/December 2012

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

James May's Ultimate Paper Airplane

Wednesday, December 26, 2012 @ 8:00 AM

Top Gear's James May dreamed of being a fighter pilot as a child, his passion stoked by hours spent folding and refolding sheets of paper to produce the sleekest flying model.  So May jumped at the chance when Radio Times invited him to show how to make the paper plane of his youth.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Paper or Plastic?

Monday, December 24, 2012 @ 8:00 AM

If you have already replaced your paper pilot certificate, then this message is not for you.  On the other hand, if your pilot certificate is still printed on paper, please read carefully.

The FAA is under a mandate to replace all paper certificates with plastic certificates.  In fact, paper pilot certificates have already expired!

If you are a mechanic, however, and do not replace your paper certificate on or before March 31, 2013 you will no longer be able to exercise your privileges!

All certificated Airmen, including mechanics, repairmen, pilots, etc., are required to replace their paper copy with a plastic copy, or they will no longer be able to exercise the privileges of that certificate.  The replacement cost is $2.00, unless you still have your Social Security Number on your certificate and are requesting that be removed.

» Replace Your Certificate

Friday, December 21, 2012

Boeing 787 Interactive Flight Experience

Friday, December 21, 2012 @ 8:00 AM

Boeing introduces the "Dream Pass" experience, a 360° user-controlled view from a virtual jump seat in the Boeing 787 as it takes off, flies and lands at Boeing Field in Seattle, WA.

The technology allows you to take real-time control of the view just as if you were sitting in the cockpit and listen to either a pilots commentary on his experience flying the Dreamliner, or the inflight audio.  Also available are a exterior views of the fuselage and wings just as if you were perfroming the walk-around, preflight check of the aircraft.

» Experience the 787 "Dream Pass"

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Release Date Announced for 'Top Gun' 3D

Wednesday, December 19, 2012 @ 8:00 AM

Paramount Pictures has announced that it will release a 3D version of Top Gun for a six-day run in select IMAX theaters starting February 8, 2013.

Originally released in 1986, the classic starring Tom Cruise has been digitally remastered from high-resolution original negative scans and was painstakingly converted to 3D under the supervision of the film's director, the late Tony Scott, the studio said.  "Rendered in 3D, the film's complex, long shots reveal extraordinary depth and clarity, allowing viewers to explore every detail of the action," according to the studio. "From the spectacular aerial dogfights to the intense close-ups in the cockpits, each frame enables the audience to feel a part of the story."


Monday, December 17, 2012

Product Review: Bad Elf GPS Pro

Monday, December 17, 2012 @ 8:00 AM

The iFlightPlanner Crew often receives questions about external GPS devices that are compatible with iFlightPlanner for iPad.  While there are several on the market, two units that we’ve tested and recommend are the Bad Elf GPS and Bad Elf GPS Pro.  Andy Matthews, iFlightPlanner’s Co-Founder & Director of Business Development, recently flew with the Bad Elf GPS Pro and we wanted to share his thoughts on the unit with the iFlightPlanner community.

First Impressions

Out of the box you’ll notice the Bad Elf GPS Pro’s LCD display, a unique feature that makes it the first GPS with an informative user interface approved by Apple.  The backlit display makes it easy for the user to view connection status, battery level and location details (latitude, longitude, altitude, heading, speed and UTC) without the need for it to be connected to an iOS device. 

While the unit weighs only 3.2 ounces (90 grams) it feels very solid and fits comfortably in the palm of your hand.

Key Features

  • Shared Bluetooth® connectivity for up to six (6) iOS devices
  • Backlit LCD display with 3-button device control (power, Bluetooth, tracking)
  • Long battery life (30+ hours in standalone mode, 16 hours in Bluetooth connectivity mode)
  • GPS tracking with storage for 100 hours of data
  • USB port for charging while in use
  • IPX4 water resistance for use outdoors 

Pairing & Setup

Pairing the Bad Elf GPS Pro with the iPad is no different than pairing any other Bluetooth device and is very simple.  However, the LCD feature allowed Bad Elf to include an additional step that ensures you are pairing the correct devices which instills a level of confidence that the process is being completed successfully.

Satellite acquisition times averaged less than a minute and Bad Elf offers a free app available on the App Store that allows you to verify that the GPS is communicating properly with your iOS device.

In The Air

The Bad Elf GPS Pro functioned flawlessly while in the cockpit and never once lost connectivity with the iPad or the satellite network, even when I accidentally dropped it beneath the front seats and it no longer had an unobstructed view of the sky.  My mishandling provided the perfect opportunity to check the status of the GPS reception using the utility app which showed a negligible difference compared to when the unit was within my reach.

While the GPS Pro fits comfortably in the palm of your hand, I found it difficult to find a secure place for it in the cockpit due to its sleek shape.  This revealed one issue I have with the Bad Elf GPS Pro.  The manufacturer recommends that the GPS be kept out of direct sunlight, all but eliminating the aircraft’s glare shield as a potential place to set the GPS Pro as you can with other units.

The unit’s GPS logging feature, which can easily be toggled on/off using one of the device’s control buttons, is great for creating a record of your flight or critiquing an instrument approach (view screenshot).  The data can be downloaded, viewed, and shared as a KML or GPX file all within the Bad Elf GPS app which continues to prove itself very useful.

On The Ground

I love the fact that the Bad Elf GPS Pro does not require a connection to an iOS device to be functional.  The built-in user interface allows it to be used in a number of environments, not just as a companion to iFlightPlanner for iPad.  Bad Elf suggests also using it for geocoaching, travel, cycling, hiking and sightseeing, just to name a few.

If you fly flight simulators, take note here.  The Bad Elf GPS Pro is a central component to the Cygnus Pro Wireless system (sold separately as a full package) which allows you to connect your favorite flight simulator to the iPad.  Cygnus taps into the location services of the connected iOS device, making it believe it is flying with your simulated aircraft.  This setup allows you to use iFlightPlanner for iPad with Windows-based versions of Microsoft Flight Simulator, Microsoft ESP and X-Plane, Lockheed Martin Prepar3D and all Redbird Flight Simulators.

Final Thoughts

The Bad Elf GPS Pro’s ability to connect and share GPS information with multiple devices, together with its LCD user interface and Cygnus capabilities, make it the most versatile external GPS unit on the market.  It is not yet compatible with Android devices, an obvious deal-breaker for Android users, but for anyone who flies with the iPad or uses Apple devices I can highly recommend the Bad Elf GPS Pro.

This unit carries a higher price point ($149.95) compared to other units on the market, but the additional features fully justify the cost and we are proud to list it in the iFlightPlanner Shop as an “iFlightPlanner Approved” product.

We will continue to add more “Approved” products to the iFlightPlanner Shop as we move into the New Year and invite you to contact us if there is a product that you feel compliments, or enhances your iFlightPlanner experience!

The iFlightPlanner Crew

Friday, December 14, 2012

Airplane Geeks and NAFI's Jason Blair

Friday, December 14, 2012 @ 8:00 AM

Jason Blair, Executive Director of the National Association of Flight Instructors (NAFI), joins the Airplane Geeks to talk about NAFI's mission, how to pick a compatible flight instructor and if there will be enough CFIs to handle the expected pilot shortage.

Jason starting his flying at 15, soloed at 16 and earned his private pilot certificate at the age of 17.  He pursued both undergraduate and master's degrees from Western Michigan University and is an active CFI with over 2000 hours of instruction given.  He actively represents NAFI and the flight instruction community in a number of capacities including on the FAA’s Runway Safety Council, the General Aviation Joint Steering Committee, the TSA Aviation Safety Advisory Council and NATA’s Flight Training Committee, just to name a few.

You can listen to Episode #226 by heading to www.AirplaneGeeks.com or subscribing to the Airplane Geeks Podcast on iTunes.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Mooney Flyer Magazine: December 2012

Monday, December 10, 2012 @ 8:00 AM

The December 2012 issue of The Mooney Flyer is now available online as a PDF or as a Flipbook!

In this month's issue, you'll find:

  • Exchanging Elbow Grease for Speed
  • Why Does 100LL Cost So Much?
  • Class A-D Airspace Review
  • Getting Along With ATC
  • Mooney Tales

For more information on the The Mooney Flyer visit http://themooneyflyer.com.

The iFlightPlanner Crew

Friday, December 7, 2012

UPDATE: Operation Good Cheer 2012

Friday, December 7, 2012 @ 8:00 AM

Operation Good Cheer, an initiative of Child and Family Services of Michigan Inc., works with volunteer pilots to fly Christmas gifts to children in foster care throughout the state.  This past Saturday, December 1st, over 13,000 gifts were delivered to 4,500 children.

Thick fog grounded a number of flying sleighs Saturday, after 100 pilots volunteered.  More than 50 Penske, Meijer and other trucks and 30 flights crisscrossed Michigan to 18 airports across the state, some making multiple trips at their own expense.

» The Detroit Free Press

Monday, December 3, 2012

Avionics News Magazine: December 2012

Monday, December 3, 2012 @ 8:00 AM

The December 2012 digital issue of Avionics News Magazine is now available!

In this month's issue, you'll find:

  • The View from Washington
  • ADS-B Circa 2013
  • Member Profile: AIM AIR
  • Family Matters: CE Avionics
  • A Conversation With Lee Brewster of NCATT
  • Before & After: San Luis Avionics
  • Business Basics: Tuning Up Your Decision Making
  • Theory & Practice: Sooo Last Millennium

For more information on the Aircraft Electronics Association visit http://www.aea.net/.

The iFlightPlanner Crew