Preflight TV gives general aviation pilots, and people interested in knowing more, an alternate view of what\'s available in aviation. Reviews of gear, cockpit management, tips and tricks, strong opinions, and anything in-between. PreFlight TV gives a quick look as some things you may or may not know about being a general aviation pilot.
Episode 9: Vendors at AirVenture
Last month I attended AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. I brought back some video. This is the first of the series.
During the week of AirVenture, Oshkosh Wisconsin boasts the busiest airport in the world. After being there for a week, I don’t doubt it. Every moment of the day there was two or three aircraft landing or taking off – very often, at the same time. Then, every afternoon there is an air show overhead.
While everyone was looking at the cool airplanes, I spent my time wondering the floor of the hangers on the lookout for cool stuff.
In this episode I take talked with a few vendors. Many of them were much shyer than you would think, and I had to improvise reporting on their products. When the vendor didn’t want to talk to the camera I’d hold the camera and do the voice-over right there. This worked for the most part, but this technique did capture a bit of background noise.
These are the vendors in this episode:
Pacific Coast Avionics
Factory Direct Models
Kannad Aviation and Freeflight Systems
Martt from Airpigz and John from The In The Pattern Podcast
Episode 8: Air Band Transceivers
Marc discusses hand held, air-band transceivers, and has some options about them as well.
I was really hoping to get excited about all the features that exist on the latest and greatest transceivers. Unfortunately, I was sorely disappointed. They really haven’t improved much over the years. With the advent of smartphone’s, GPS’s, satellite weather, and products like the iPad, I was thinking that the modern transceiver would have extra bells and whistles. I would have even settled for something that had extended power or range.
Unfortunately, they’ve stagnated. There is no GPS integration, no internet connection, no dynamic frequency mapping… absolutely nothing to get excited about. The modern transceiver could easily have been made 15 years ago. They have frequency/memory positions and the big feature is that text names can be assigned to a frequency… but don’t go over the number of allowed characters! You don’t have many.
Didn’t we live through the same thing with cellphones years ago? I remember running out of memory on my cellphone back in 1995 when I input everyone I knew into the memory. Now days consumers expect their phones to be able to store not only every phone number of everyone they know, but their birthdate, their email addresses, the physical address, and random personal notes about them, not to mention a bunch of other fields. What is it about the scanner/transceiver industry that hasn’t caught up with the times? Memory shouldn’t be an issue. Memory is cheap!
Another feature we should have, is the ability to take a course from a flight plan and have the software figure out all the frequencies we might need for the trip. But, alas… transceivers are not that exciting. You get to transmit, receive, program in the frequencies you think you might need – that’s it. They’re boring.
All air-band, hand-held transceivers have the ability to scan, transmit with 5 watts of power, and all have a 121.5 emergency button. Even the battery life is about the same with all of them. The only real difference is the look and feel. Even that isn’t really all that different.
I own an IC-6. but if I were to buy a new transceiver I’d get the VXA-710 because it has two additional frequency ranges which could be useful for times I am not flying. I don’t see that loosing 40 positions from memory is really that big of a loss. As I said, the number of memory positions is limited – nothing like what we have in the cellphone market today.
Vertex is very proud of being water resistant to 3′ for 30 minutes. Where this is good, it’s not a huge selling point. ICOM does not claim that their transceivers are as water resistant, but honestly… submerge any electronic gizmo, don’t turn it on, and dry it out thoroughly, and it will be fine. ICOM transceivers are okay in the rain. Mine has gotten wet (from rain) several times, and I never gave it a second thought. The Vertex may be able to go to three feet for a half hour, but I’ve never had any electronic gizmo fail because it got wet, but I’m not one of those people who talk on the cell phone in the restroom.
Standard FM Reciever
Business Radio Service
External Headset Adapter
Battery Life (hours)
IC-6 / IC-24
6 to 26
IC-24 model is $45 more. The only benifit is the VOR naviagation, which there is no point to having.
IC-A14S / IC-A14
4 to 40
IC-A14 model is the same price as the ‘S’ (Simple Keyboard) versio
Episode 7: Northwest Aviation Conference and Trade Show
Marc checks out the Northwest Aviation Conference & Trade Show at the Puyallup Fair grounds. This video was taken on February 27, 2011.
In order of appearance:
I started off the day at the Cirrus booth but didn’t talk about it. The intention of PreFlight TV is to explore things that every pilot (or prospective pilot) can use, buy, or get some benefit from knowing. Discussing aircraft is great, and I’ll do it all day long, but it doesn’t help any of us actually fly. So, at PreFlight TV we’ll certainly mention cool, “no way can we afford this” type-things when we see them, but the goal is to keep things in reality.
Boeing Employees Flying Association:
I didn’t talk about BEFA, but their booth is in the background of the New Generation Video segment, and thought I’d mention them. BEFA is the organization that I fly with. Though it has “Boeing Employees” in the name, anyone can join.
New Generation Video:
Shot Mapper is pretty cool little product. Though I didn’t show it, the product is really just two parts – a cable, and software. For $100 you can add GPS coordinates to your videos. The only catch is that your camera must have an audio input.
Out in the middle of nowhere and a hose breaks, something non-structural just came off, or a wire become exposed? I’m not saying you’d want to do a major repair, but let’s say you land away from your home base and figure out that your scratchy mic is because the connector is loose. Rescue Tape would work in a pinch.
I can think of 1000 things that are completely fixable if you/I had the right tool. Rescue Tape won’t fix everything, but it’s a small thing to throw in your survival kit.
Honestly, they are a little behind the times. However, they are good and reliable. I used to use CSC DUATS before moving almost almost exclusively to Foreflight and the AOPA Flight Planning tools.
I actually didn’t really check out the A20. I was afraid I’d like it, and I can’t afford to buy a new $1000 headset every year.
… they really are nice headsets.
I didn’t film their booth, but they are in the background of the Bose segment.
Desert Air is community in Eastern Washington with a private airport.
Avian Avionics inc.
They build engines. I’d look at engines, but I’ve no use for them, as I don’t have an aircraft. I can’t find their website easily. Sorry.
The FAA was here to talk with people.
Silverwing at Sandpoint
I love the idea of living right off a a private runway, and drive my aircraft out to go to leave the house. I envy anyone who lives this life, as I probably will never be able to afford any of it.
I’ve heard about the portable airport that the FAAST team has put together, but didn’t see it until today. They used to build it by putting tape on the floor, but that took hours of work. They now have heavy-duty plastic pieces that they tape down, and the process of constructing the airport is much faster.
I think they asked me to join in the traffic pattern 3 times. Nobody needs to see me cause an accident, so I didn’t do it.
Episode 6: Electronic Pilot Logbooks
Marc discusses some of the pro’s and cons of electronic logbooks.
We were prepared to film this video several weeks ago, but haven’t had the time to put it together. But, finally – it’s here.
We’ve already published the corresponding spreadsheet, comparing several logbooks. You can find the spreadsheet and comparison here.
We decided to cover the pro’s and con’s of electronic logbooks, rather than do a review because the market is changing very quickly. We’d be required to review electronic logbooks every month or two to keep up. With the advent of the iPad and other newer Android tablet devices, consumers are now able to afford touch screens on mobile computers. Where this may not seem like a major turing point, it is:
Small touch screens allow for electronic signatures, and the portable nature allows these devices to be realistically carried into the cockpit. Then, with applications like ForeFlight it may be that future logbook applications are combined with the planing process. These devices are the first step to having a completely paperless cockpit.
Though, we aren’t there yet, the future is very exciting.
Allot of work went into this one, but most of the work was to make filming PreFlight TV easier and quicker to film. We’ll see if our efforts pay off.
Episode 5: Scotch Break with Amy and Marc
We’re not going to do this “get to know your host” type-show very often. The only reason we decided to do this one was because several people I met wanted to know more about Amy. Maybe they just wanted to know if she was single….
Regardless, We thought having an episode highlighting her flight experiences made sense.
I promise that the next episode will be back on-track. 🙂
Episode 4: The iPad as a flight tool
Amy and Marc Discuss the Apple iPad, and it’s usefulness in flight.
I really want to be able to say, “The Pad is perfect for flight”, but I can’t. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a very useful and handy tool, but it has a few drawbacks. At some point you have to ask yourself, “Is this better than paper in flight?” The answer is that it’s not.
The iPad is convenient. This is the bottom line of what is good about it. So, use it in flight… absolutely. Just don’t expect it to improve the cockpit clutter too much. Having a moving map, or approach plates, are the most useful features, but honestly, a Kindle DX can display plates better than an iPad (no brightness to adjust on Kindle glass – drawback: no color on a Kindle).
The Foreflight software is pretty good, but it still has a way to go in order to do everything you might need. On the other hand, I’m not sure it should ever be designed to do everything. I think the apps should be broken up into phases of flight. Then, have checklists, and incorporate your own workflow into the checklists… then we’ll have something.
All said… the iPad is not perfect for flight. As a preflight planner – it’s awesome. Every pilot should buy one (the 3G model, that is. Specifically for the GPS, but having a data connection is also really handy).
Sarah Lane and Tom Merritt did a show on iPad flying apps on “iPad Today”. Check out their show for a more flying-novice look at the iPad: iPad Today, Episode 5