N2S-3 Stearman Familiarization Flight

I recently had the opportunity to check an item off of my bucket list, you know, one of those things you want to experience at least once before you die. In this case, the item in question on my bucket list was ‘The Yellow Peril’, the iconic Stearman biplane.

The Stearman is nicknamed ‘The Yellow Peril’ because most were painted yellow when in service to the US military, and it is a large, heavy taildragger with a narrow track main gear that gives it ‘tricky’ ground handling characteristics – put simply, it is almost always trying to swap ends where the tail swings out in front and you end up dragging a wingtip and possibly damaging the plane, the dreaded groundloop.

The Stearman in question for my familiarization flight was N5106N, a beautifully restored N2S-3, a Navy version of the famous trainer, owned by my friend and tailwheel mentor Dave Derby. Built by Boeing in 1943, this plane saw service in the US Navy before being sold into private use. Dave bought it in the 80’s and spent 10 years painstakingly restoring it to concourse quality.

20140806_100051_zpse4nwkpqh

As Dave used the robotow to push the big biplane out of its hangar you are immediately struck by its prodigious size. It sits up tall on the aforementioned narrow track main gear, with the upper wing being fully 9 feet off the ground in its classic three-point stance. With a 32 foot wingspan and almost 25 feet long it seems almost too big for carrying only two people. Weighing in at a typical 1,950 lbs empty weight, it is literally a ton of fun.

We had briefed the flight before we headed over to the remote hangar Dave keeps 06N in, he originally thought about having me fly from the rear cockpit however my time in restricted visibility aircraft is extremely low so we elected to have me in the forward or student cockpit while he handled the plane’s systems and radios from the rear seat. I was honored by the confidence this showed with respect to his opinion of my skill but am glad my first taste of the Stearman came from the forward pit with its better (although still marginal) visibility.

20140806_100715_zps0pd9jejp

The 220 horsepower seven cylinder Continental R-670-5 radial barked to life after perhaps 2 blades, a testament to the care this living piece of history receives, a wispy cloud of oil smoke briefly engulfed the cockpit as the radial settled into a Harley-esque loping idle as it slowly warmed up. The sound seemingly transported us 70 years backwards through time. I thought of young men, in their late teens, joining the Navy or Army Air Corps and having this monster be their first introduction to flight.

Once we were clear of the tightly spaced hangars Dave gave me the controls and I explored the big Stearman’s infamous ground handling as we taxied to Gillespie Field’s runway 27R. Graceful S-turns were the order of the day to allow me to see ahead, lest someone pulled anything smaller than a 737 in front of me and I accidentally run it over.

We pulled up between a Cessna 150 and a Cessna 172 for our runup, I laughed to myself as I looked down onto these planes and smiled at the pilots inside, who I knew from my own previous and similar experiences were green with envy. The Stearman truly towers over other trainers, I was looking down onto the top of the wings of the Cessnas.

Stearman-6

I asked for takeoff clearance and it was given.

“Stearman 5106N cleared for takeoff runway 27 right, north departure approved.”

This was about to get real.

Dave had prepared me in advance and said once I was lined up on the centerline to resist the urge to look left or right since the brain unconsciously pulls the plane towards the direction you look, so I pulled out on the centerline, locked my gaze ahead and advanced the throttle…it begins.

Stearman-7

The radial stumbled through low RPM and slowly gained power as I pushed the throttle lever to full. The noise, vibration and propblast were all fury as we began down the runway – I kept my focus straight ahead and used my peripheral vision to pick up any drift left or right until I raised the tail and could thankfully see ahead. Magically the massive biplane lifted off, almost on its own, and we were airborne.

Stearman-8

As I always do when exposed to a new type or make/model aircraft, I carefully explored the ailerons with some gentle banks over the runway once out of ground effect and found them, shall we say, a bit heavy. The ailerons on Dave’s Stearman are deliciously bereft of friction when on the ground, among the smoothest and lightest I have ever felt, but once the big barn door sized controls had 80 knots of wind rushing over them, they became very solid. The rudder was very responsive, as was the elevator although all of the controls were quite a bit heavier than the more mundane aerobatic Citabria I have been flying recently.

I turned crosswind and headed out towards El Capitan Reservoir, adjusting to the sensory overload that is open-cockpit flying.

We flew out to my aerobatic practice area and I explored more of the biplane’s envelope with gentle and steep turns, followed by some graceful lazy-eights, the big bipe grooved through them like it was on rails.

Then Dave asked if I wanted to see a loop so I gave control of the plane to him. We dove for about 100 knots indicated, and pulled up into comfortable teardrop style loop as Dave prefers to keep maneuvers positive G, barnstorming in a barnstormers airplane, what a treat.

Stearman-1

Next we performed another loop followed by a hammerhead or stall turn where we pulled up to a vertical line and kicked in left rudder as the airspeed ran out, pivoting smartly about the left wing tip and pointing straight down over the gorgeous scenery.

Stearman-3

Dave then slowed down to demonstrate a stall series and I was amazed, the break from wings level was a non-event, a shallow nose drop and we were flying again. Then he showed me something I have never seen, we banked around 40 degrees to the left and he pulled back on the stick, and pulled and pulled, when the plane stalled it did not, as I fully expected, drop the left wing further, instead it righted itself to wings level as the nose dropped. Amazing.

Dave gave the controls back to me and I dropped down to about 500 feet above the ground and flew out to the north tip of the canyon that extends from El Capitan reservoir and we flew around near the rim of the canyon, the view and sense of freedom was overwhelming.

On Dave’s suggestion we headed over to Ramona airport to attempt a landing and after some communication challenges (Ramona’s radar didn’t seem to be working) we worked into the pattern and I setup for a landing. The predictable handling of the big biplane when in the air did not remain once we touched down as the Yellow Peril reared its ugly head, but I kept it under control and got us slowed down to get off the runway. We taxied back for takeoff and again made S-turns to provide some sense of forward visibility while on the taxiway.

Stearman-9

Cleared for takeoff I took the active runway, advanced the throttle and again we were airborne. Cleared for an early turn crosswind we headed south for our eventual return to Gillespie field.

Stearman-10

It never ceases to amaze me how generous my fellow pilots are, generous with their time, with sharing their experience, and more often than not, sharing their aircraft. It is the shared love and passion for aviation itself, and the desire to share it with others who can appreciate it as we do. Our community is small, perhaps 700,000 pilots in all of the US, including military and airline pilots. But what it lacks in size it makes up for in camaraderie.

20140806_115911_zpsfjka7lq5

I want to thank my friend and tailwheel mentor Dave Derby for sharing his excellent N2S-3 Stearman with me and hope readers have enjoyed my sharing of this experience.

‘Gimp

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

All Red Star XIII Formation Clinic, Porterville, CA (KPTV) April 24-27 2014

    Introduction

In April of this year I had the amazing opportunity to attend the All Red Star XIII Formation Clinic at Porterville CA (KPTV). This 4 day clinic is a production of the Red Star Pilot’s Association (www.flyredstar.org) with participation from members of the T-34 Association (www.T-34.com) which are both signatories to the Formation and Safety Team (FAST) organization (www.flyfast.org), the worldwide group responsible for establishing formation training and qualification standards for civilian pilots. I have been a member of the Red Star Pilot’s Association (RPA) for about a year due to my interest in the Yak-52, but had never managed to schedule time to attend an RPA event but due to an unexpected level of stability in my work schedule I decided to take some vacation time and head north for the event.

20140424_130308
The primary types represented, from left to right T-34, Yak-52 and CJ-6

About a week prior to driving up to Porterville, I attended a required online webinar that provides an introduction to the RPA Formation Manual given by RPA Instructor Scott ‘Gomez’ Glaser. This was a serious 2.5 hour ground school that covered the basics of formation instruction and the organization of the RPA Formation Manual as well as the basic approach to training and approval for formation pilots. This course is a prerequisite for attending the All Red Star event and ensures that new pilots are prepared for the learning environment by being familiar with the different formation types, radio and hand signals, etc.

The event was attended by over 40 aircraft and roughly 65-70 pilots/GIB’s and is intended to ensure that the different organizations fly together to ensure consistency and harmonization between groups who typically fly individually. Over the course of the clinic I was able to fly back-seat or Guy-In-Back (GIB) on 5 flights covering 6.1 hours, including 2 pure training sorties, a Wing Card Recommendation Ride, a Wing Card Check Ride, and an 11-ship mass formation. Among the many T-34’s, Yak-50’s, Yak-52’s and CJ-6’s, were several experimental homebuilts (Glasair IIFT, Glasair III, Lancair 235) and even a couple jets (Aero Vodochody L-39 Delfin and a Dassault-Dornier Alpha Jet).

1794782_10152445000358783_5441738112538743269_n 10154071_10152445000738783_8203883416856878241_n 10171752_10152445000963783_7448200135932765213_n
The ARS XIII flightline as seen from the top of ‘Matchbox’s’ hangar

Over the course of the sorties I flew on I was exposed to all of the formation basics, 2-Ship Element Takeoffs, Strong Fingertip, Echelon, Trail, Parade, Overhead Break to Landing, etc., and will provide a brief write-up of the sorties and maneuvers flown along with some photos from the hours of video I took during the flights.

20140425_080845 20140425_080850
Each day started with a military-style briefing before breaking into individual flights

In addition to the many training, recommendation and check ride flights, there were also a few team events such as the formation challenge, and a planned (but weather aborted) flour bomb contest, and a Tactical Formation or Tac-Form air combat engagement. Each of these events was meticulously planned and professionally executed with an ever focusing eye on operational safety. Much like aerobatics, what appears to be chaotic and dangerous is actually precisely laid out and carefully executed.

    Sortie 1

The first sortie was a pure training flight for Guido ‘Rolex’ Rietdyk and David ‘Sparky’ Klein who fly Nanchang CJ-6’s with Tiger Squadron from Torrance (KTOA). Both Rolex’s and Sparky’s CJ’s had been modified from their original 285 hp Chinese made Housai motor, to the more powerful Russian made 420 hp Vedenyev M-14PF engine which provides an amazing amount of performance. This flight had 2 T-34 Mentor’s and 2 Nanchang CJ-6’s. For this flight, I flew GIB with ‘Rolex’ in the #3 (Element 2 Lead) position. We began with a 2-ship Element Takeoff where the 4-ship formation breaks into 2 elements, each with a Lead and Wingman. Once in the practice area we flew pitch out and rejoins where the formation breaks up at a briefed interval (1-3 seconds) and then reforms, then flew close trail where we move to one behind the other. This was a great introduction to formation basics, as I have never flown that close to other aircraft before. As I would later learn, it is possible to fly even closer.

20140424_130259
Guido ‘Rolex’ Rietdyk’s gorgeous Nanchang CJ-6

    Sortie 2

The second sortie I flew was a Wing Card Recommendation Ride, where ‘Rolex’ and ‘Sparky’ flew with RPA Instructor Pilot/Check Airmen to demonstrate enough proficiency in formation flight to then be allowed to fly a Wing Card Check Ride. For this flight I flew GIB with ‘Butts’ in his Nanchang CJ-6 and observed as the Instructor Pilots (IP’s) ‘Mags’ and ‘Blade’ put ‘Sparky’ and ‘Rolex’ through the ringer with multiple cross-unders (the #2 and #4 aircraft trade positions or move from Fingertip Left to Fingertip Right), Diamond (what we are accustomed to seeing the Blue Angels and Thunderbirds fly), and Close and Extended Trail.

Judy-4
‘Rolex’ in The Slot, best seat in the Diamond Formation

Judy-5
‘Butts’ and I in #3 position during Close Trail

During this flight, ‘Butt’s and I flew Lead for a while which provided for some great shots. We flew most of a complete training profile so Fingertip, Close and Extended Trail, and Echelon.

Judy-11
You can see all 3 of our Wingmen in Extended Trail, if you look closely

Judy-9
A near-perfect Echelon Turn

    Sortie 3

Sortie #3 was the Wing Card Check Ride for ‘Rolex’ and ‘Sparky and for this I flew with Byron ‘Elton’ Fox. The weather was light rain at the airport but cleared up in the practice area and we worked the rookies pretty hard. On completion of this flight ‘Rolex’ and ‘Sparky’ were approved as Wing Men.

Judy-2 Judy-3
2-Ship Element Take-Off with ‘Rolex’ in the #4 Position

    Sortie 4

My flight for Sortie #4 was a special treat as I flew with Darrel ‘Condor’ Gary who flies in the #3 Position with the Red Eagles Formation Display Team. ‘Condor’ is a former Naval Aviator, who it turns out is one of the 9 men who started the US Navy Fighter Weapons School (Top Gun). Needless to say this was an incredible honor as well as a tremendously enjoyable flight, ‘Condor’ is a past President of the RPA and is largely responsible for the amazing organization it has become and his flying skills were a joy to observe.

Judy-6 Judy-7
‘Condor’ rolling in hot for a Dynamic Rejoin / moving into rejoin on the left wing

Judy-8
‘Condor’ tucked into the #3 Position in an Echelon Turn

    Sortie 5

This flight was eye-opening, as I flew with ‘Dawg’ in the #7 position of a 11-ship formation. I figured out after the fact that the weight of the 11 aircraft, (2 Yak-50’s, 8 Nanchang CJ-6’s, and a Glasair III) totaled 30,000 lbs, or roughly the same as an empty WWII B-17 Flying Fortress. This was very impressive but also extremely challenging giving the weather and low altitude fly-by altitudes.

Judy-12
Flying #7 (Far Left Wing) in an 11-Ship Mass Formation

10321721_754428781263925_2418172597307734217_o
Flying #7 (Far Left Wing) in an 11-Ship Mass Formation – credit Curtis Noble

    Apres Fly

As with skiing, or other multi-day events, the days training activities are but a part of the whole experience and such was definitely the case at All Red Star. Each evening held either squadron/group organized meals or amazing meals cooked and served in the hangar that served as our Base Ops, generously provided a Porterville local with the appropriate call sign of ‘Matchbox’. The back of his hangar was filled with a magnificent muscle car collection.

The Awards Ceremony and Call Sign Board were in keeping with the finest military tradition and as such are far too risqué to repeat here, needless to say however, they were among the funniest things I have ever witnessed and paid a fitting tribute to the camaraderie and esprit-de-corps that Red Star Pilot’s Association and the T-34 Association strive to maintain.

    Summary

5 flights, 5 different pilots, 2 different plane types, 6.1 hours of intense formation training and countless hours making new friends over 4 days. I cannot say enough about how welcoming the All Red Star XIII crew was, not just fellow pilots, but the amazing volunteers who do so much to make this a top notch event.

Having experienced it firsthand albeit from the rear cockpit, I can now see why many pilots dedicate themselves to formation flying – it is demanding, and can be hazardous if approached carelessly, but with the professionalism and seriousness I observed at All Red Star it is obvious that solid and repeatable programs exist to allow any pilot with the desire to develop the skillset and experience necessary to become a qualified formation pilot.

Almost all of the photos in this article were actually taken from the roughly 8 hours of video I took during the ARS XIII event. If you are interested in seeing a few of these videos in an edited form and set to music, search for jlknolla on Youtube and enjoy.

Posted in Real World Aviation | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Android Tablets as Electronic Flight Bag – Part 5 of 5

Once again, a late posting – this originally appeared in the May issue of the EAA 14 Newsletter.

Introduction
As you may recall from Parts 1, 2, 3 and 4, this is a series of 5 articles about Android Tablets as Electronic Flight Bags, this series is arranged as follows:
• Part 1 – an introduction to the EFB, the Regulatory environment and Terminology
• Part 2 discussed Software/Applications
• Part 3 discussed Hardware
• Part 4 discussed Accessories
• Part 5 (this article) will discuss Training and Simulation

In last month’s article we reviewed accessories for EFB applications and hardware. In this fifth and final piece, we are going to review training and simulation concepts that can be used to prepare for inflight use of EFB hardware and applications.

As I have mentioned before, none of the devices or accessories discussed here are approved for use as a primary navigation source – but as also touched on in the previous articles, no approval is required for use as a source of supplemental information.

2 4

Training and Simulation
As someone who has been fortunate to fly a number of aircraft from ultralights to high-performance turboprop singles I am a big proponent of training to help learn new aircraft types. Differences in weights, rotation speeds, power settings and so on can cause confusion, but good training can introduce these variations and ensure that as pilots we are prepared.

For certain types of aircraft and operations, simulation is used to lower training expenses and allow for the development of more varied training scenarios without putting aircrew or aircraft in danger (e.g., military and airline training). Many years ago I was fortunate to go through the FlightSafety Bonanza Initial training course in Wichita, we were able to practice scenarios like engine failure after takeoff, vacuum failure in IMC, and other situations that cannot be safely practiced. With that said however, in General Aviation and especially Experimental Aviation, we admittedly have fewer opportunities for professional level simulation based training.

All is not lost however, as we do have possibilities. Several of the EFB applications do offer some level of in-app training as well as decent documentation, and all can be used for flight planning, map usage, and other basic functions while on the ground. But, if you are a flight simulation user such as X-Plane or Microsoft Flight Simulator, several of the Apps can be paired to flight simulators as a data source which then allows you to exercise the EFB App and Hardware while also (in the simulation) ‘flying’.

Because there are many EFB Apps as covered in Part 2, as well as many different devices as covered in Part 3, and several different flight simulation programs, I am going to focus in this Part on my personal EFB and simulation setup, but will really only be addressing training scenarios, although the principles are applicable across most combinations of EFB, hardware and flight simulator.

My current EFB Application is the paid version of Garmin Pilot (3.0.1) with SafeTaxi. I am running it on a Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 android tablet. My simulator setup is Microsoft Flight Simulator X Gold (we’ll call it FSX for short) running on a basic home business class HP desktop computer using a 32” flat screen TV as monitor. I also have a head tracking setup that lets me look around by moving my head.

A major development in flight training over the past few years has been the concept of Scenario Based Training (SBT). The idea is that rather than follow the traditional building block learning approach, SBT uses real-world scenarios to enforce not only skillset development but also decision making.

The scenario based training concepts that I use and will be recommending require the ability to export air data/GPS data from the simulator program to the EFB so that you can use the EFB in conjunction with the simulator, as you would in flight in the real world.

For FSX, there is a 3rd party bit of software called FSUIPC (payware) that will take positional information from the simulator and make it available outside the simulator. In my case, I use a USB Bluetooth transceiver to broadcast the GPS data from FSUIPC using the ‘GPSOUT’ function. This takes information from within the simulator and converts it to the standard syntax for GPS receivers so that the EFB can be ‘fooled’ into thinking it is flying. X-Plane which I have also used has some of this functionality built-in – consult the manuals for your specific simulator and EFB App for how to connect them.

Garmin Pilot allows you to use external GPS sources, so I activate the Bluetooth receiver on the Tablet and pair it to the computer running FSX (this is done on the Settings, GPS page, select External Bluetooth GPS). Once the simulator is loaded and running, the EFB will use the GPS/Air Data from FSX instead of the internal source, and will behave as if you are flying ‘in’ the simulator. That is, the EFB moving map will reflect your location, altitude and airspeed based on the data in the simulator.

As mentioned above, the training scenarios should be in-line with the real-world missions you typically fly to maximize the training value. If you regularly fly to Avalon (KAVX) use that mission, if you fly to Oshkosh (KOSH), use that mission. The aim is to use as many of the EFB capabilities in preflight planning and ‘in flight’ as possible with the simulator, so that you become comfortable/familiar with their use and won’t need to look up how to get your whiz-bang tool to do something while in flight or worse, while dealing with system malfunctions.

I recommend establishing a planned training scenario that begins with flight planning, getting weather and a briefing (I do this in the EFB App but do not exercise an actual briefer), then flying the flight. I typically will set up night or bad weather flights to force me to use the EFB and instruments rather than ‘looking outside’.

Every few flights I will either set a malfunction timer (this lets the simulator create a system malfunction at some time during the flight) or just choose to divert part-way through the flight, to keep my ability to pick new airports, set Direct-To, look up runway or frequency information etc.

When ‘flying’ the simulator, I usually use my kneeboard with the EFB mounted on my leg like when I fly. This is important because it introduces the potential disruption of going ‘heads down’ to look at the EFB and then back to ‘heads up’ to look ‘outside’. It is surprising how things like this can aid in improving the immersive nature of training and this is where the best learning occurs.

20131210_144231 20131210_144323

Again, the objective is to use the EFB App and Hardware just as you will use it in flight so that it becomes second nature.

Review
This series of articles was intended to introduce Android Tablets as Electronic Flight Bags. Over the past few months we have covered an introduction to the EFB including the Regulatory environment and Terminology, discussed Software/Applications, Hardware, Accessories, and lastly Training and Simulation. This has of course introduced a lot of new terms and concepts, I have tried to answer the questions that typically come up around these apps and devices.

I hope that the information has been helpful and inspires pilots to consider using these amazing tools to increase their situational awareness and hopefully be better aviators. Please feel free to send questions to me at jlknolla@aol.com, via my blog (https://acrogimp.wordpress.com/) or if you see me around the hangar.

About the Author
John Knolla is currently Manager, Product Support Engineering Group for an Engineering Services company in San Diego, CA. He has nearly 20 years of Technical and Management experience in Reliability, Maintainability & Safety Engineering, Integrated Logistics Support, Systems and Project Engineering, and Technical Documentation supporting Aerospace and Defense companies such as Hawker-Beechcraft Corporation, Eclipse Aviation, Dassault FalconJet, ITT, BAE Systems, Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation, Embraer, and The Spaceship Company.

He has served on Air Transport Association (ATA) Working Groups defining Digital Display and Flight Operations approaches for the airline industry, and the FAA/industry panel that developed Advisory Circular AC120-76/120-76A Guidelines for the Certification, Airworthiness and Operational Use of Electronic Flight Bags.

He currently holds an Instrument Rating and Commercial Pilot’s License and has flight experience in more than 30 different make/model fixed and rotary wing aircraft. John maintains membership in EAA (since 1987), AOPA, the International Aerobatic Club (IAC), the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) and the Redstar Pilot’s Association (RPA).

Posted in Real World Aviation | Tagged , | Leave a comment

AcroGimp adds Tailwheel Endorsement and gains access to whole new world

28 years after my first flying lesson, I recently, and FINALLY got around to adding a Tailwheel Endorsement to my Pilot’s License.

I already have about 15 hrs in tailwheel planes (mostly Extra 300L) but did not pursue the endorsement because I was focused on Aerobatic training at the time.  After my recent experience at All Red Star XIII which will be the subject of an upcoming blog post, I made a connection that led to another connection that was the right combination of plane, instructor and timing and decided to make it official.

Over the past week I flew with Dave Derby at Gillespie Field (KSEE) in his two Citabria’s. One is a 7GCBC, carburetor, with toe brakes and flaps, and the other is a 7KCAB, injected with heel brakes (full inverted systems).

20140525_134416 20140529_162719

Because of my amputation, I had thought for years that I would not be able to fly taildraggers due to the lack of ankle on my right leg, but when I was taking acro training in ’12 and ’13 in Mojave in the Extra 300L I found that at least that taildragger was zero drama.

The fact that Dave has the two Citabria’s is nice since it will give me time with both brake configurations.

Flight 1 – 5/25/2014

Flew 1.2, first official TW Endorsement flight.

Mount for the day N57517, a beautiful Blue and White Citabria 7GCBC (carbureted, toe brakes and flaps).

Instructor gave a very informative 20-minute overview of tailwheel physics, we discussed basic CRM/positive exchange of control and the like, did the preflight and headed out from KSEE.

Dave demonstrated on the first takeoff, and the view I must say is tremendous, great visibility and the view over the nose is, for a taildragger, fantastic (much better than even the front seat of the Extra 300L I was flying last year.

We did some basic airwork to shake the rust off, steep turns (very fun, you can really wind the Citabria up), slow flight, and stall series. The Citabria is a nice flyer, I really enjoyed the low speed work, requires much less pronounced unloading from stall more of a relaxation of pressure than a deliberate punch forward on the stick to break the stall, plane really wants to fly.

Made our way over to Brown Field (KSDM) for some pattern work, bounced the first wheel landing attempt (I got a little slow and we dropped in), then did 5 progressively smoother wheelies including some brake work with the tail still up. Took some getting used to to move to the brakes while still rolling at a good clip but I can see how the plane can get down and stopped quick even from a wheel landing with this technique.

Headed back over to Gillespie and did a full flap 3-pointer (demonstrated by Dave with me shadowing the controls), amazing short field performance if you want/need it.

Had a great time and very pleased with my performance, nothing even remotely dangerous (~15 hrs in the Extra probably helped a bit).

Flight 2 – 5/27/2014

Flew 1.0, 2nd TW Endorsement flight.

Well, in a totally unexpected fit of no-humility-required awesome stick and rudderness, I surprised myself and got the Tailwheel Endorsement today, after a total of 2.2 hrs of instruction. Did a couple easy wheelies, added in flaps and did a couple more wheelies, then switched to 3-pointers with an occasional 90 degree crosswind and it was cake – no drama. Dave signed me off with his compliments.

The 3-pointers were super fun to do, once I got the sight picture and energy management down they were groovy.

Flight 3 – 5/29/2014

Flew 0.5, checkout in Heel Brake equipped 7KCAB

The heel brakes take some getting used to but this is a very, very nice flyer. It accelerates better, climbs better, and is a little lighter on the controls.

Interesting bit is that I found I was struggling with my left leg (‘good’ leg) for brake modulation, and that my right leg (‘bad’ leg) was no sweat. I chalk this up to the fact that I have to use my entire right leg for gas in the car as well as for rudder and brakes when flying so I am more accustomed to finessing it. No skids or flat spots but I did get a couple good squeals.

For any other below knee amputees out there, don’t be afraid to try the tailwheels – I am actually PO’d that I let my fear keep me from trying this all this time – these little Citabrias are fun!

Best part is owner says I can use it for training and competition!

I will take one of the Citabria’s to the Warbirds West Air Musem Wounded Warrior event in June so I can fly some of the guys and show them that amputations are not always limiting.

20140531_091107_zpsqfpl2oix

Benefit of flying with Dave Derby is that he also owns a beautiful 1945 Stearman, and takes folks out for an hour in it after he signs them off for the TW Endorsement – another great plane about to be checked off the Aviator’s Bucket List.

‘Gimp

Posted in Real World Aviation | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Android Tablets as Electronic Flight Bags – Part 4

I am a little late in posting this to the blog, this article originally appeared in the EAA 14 Newsletter for April 2014, enjoy! 


Introduction

As you may recall from Parts 1, 2 and 3, this is a series of 5 articles about Android Tablets as Electronic Flight Bags, this series is arranged as follows:

  • Part 1 – an introduction to the EFB, the Regulatory environment and Terminology

  • Part 2 discussed Software/Applications

  • Part 3 discussed Hardware

  • Part 4 (this article) will discuss Accessories

  • Part 5 will discuss Training and Simulation

In last month’s article we reviewed hardware, the devices EFB applications can be run on. So this month, we are going to review various accessories that can be used for the hardware and applications.

As with the previous articles, I’ll introduce a new term related to possible accessories; specifically ADS-B (Automated Dependant Surveillance-Broadcast). And lastly I’ll review some of my favorite accessories.

As I have repeatedly mentioned, remember that none of the devices or accessories discussed here are approved for use as a primary navigation source – however as also touched on in the previous articles, no approval is required for use as a source of supplemental information.

ADS-B (Automated Dependant Surveillance-Broadcast

From the FAA News webpage (http://www.faa.gov/news/fact_sheets/news_story.cfm?newsId=7131)

What is ADS-B?

ADS-B is one of the most important, underlying technologies in the FAA’s plan to transform air traffic control from the current radar-based system to a satellite-based system. ADS-B is bringing the precision and reliability of satellite-based surveillance to the nation’s skies.

Image

How does it work?

ADS-B uses GPS signals along with aircraft avionics to transmit the aircraft’s location to ground receivers. The ground receivers then transmit that information to controller screens and cockpit displays on aircraft equipped with ADS-B avionics.

Screen Protectors

Because we use EFB’s in the cockpit, and because we want visibility, there is usually a lot of ambient light in the cockpit, as a result one accessory that should not be overlooked is a screen protector. While these initially came about to actually ‘protect’ the sense elements of the earlier touch screens, they are now important more for preventing the appearance of fingerprints and reducing glare. Available in a number of finishes (e.g., gloss, matte, semi-matte) these self-adhesive films will greatly improve the usefulness of your EFB by making sure you can actually see all the cool data it can display. I prefer a matte finish because it reduces glare better than a gloss finish, but any screen protector is going to be better than no screen protector. Good sources for screen protectors include local retailers, and online marketers.

Image

Glossy on Left, Matte on Right                        

Image

No Protector on Left, Matte on Right

S-Pen/Stylus

Because Android devices are touch driven, one element that has seen a lot of development recently is the use of a stylus, basically a pen with a capacitive point on it create the electrical charge that normal touchscreens require to capture input. Where a typical stylus offers moderate resolution (think thick lines), Samsung recently added a new twist with a high resolution stylus called the S-Pen (currently only on Samsung Note devices) produces very high resolution (think thin lines). Either device can make for precise inputs to your device, but they should be tethered to the device to avoid becoming FOD in the cockpit. You can find S-Pens and Stylus of varying design at online and local retailers.

Image                

Stylus Pens                                                              

Image

Samsung S-Pen

External GPS Receivers and ADS-B Receivers

Some tablets may not come with an internal GPS receiver or you may prefer ADS-B data for inflight weather and ADS-B traffic, for these uses an external GPS or ADS-B Receiver may be just the right thing. While most EFB applications can be made to function with any suitable external GPS Receiver, some EFB applications can only work with certain ADS-B/ADS-B GPS Receivers, so be sure you know that a receiver will be compatible with your EFB application and the tablet/device (e.g., Bluetooth or WiFi connectivity). Because the GPS and ADS-B Receivers are aviation specific, you’ll need to look for them at dedicated aviation retailers online or in pilot shops like Sporty’s and Marv Golden’s.

ImageImageImage

RAM Mounts/Kneeboards/Lap Desks

One obvious question is where to locate and hold your EFB. Of course you can just set it down on your lap and hope it stays there, but a better approach is to decide if you want a mounting system that stays with you as the pilot, or with the airplane. I fly lots of different planes so for me, I want a mount that stays with me and use a generic 9G kneeboard that I bought at Marv Golden’s, it fits my Galaxy Note 8 tablet perfectly. Users of portable GPS devices are probably familiar with the RAM mount system, this uses a small hard plastic ball with moveable mounts that can be positioned as needed.

ImageImageImage

Power Cords/Chargers

Most tablets either come with a vehicle charger (12V car charger) or can be powered with a universal charger. The primary challenge is to ensure that the charger is compatible with your plane’s power system and does not cause any interference with radios or avionics. As with most other accessories, you can find Power Cords/Chargers at local retailers and at online stores.

Next month’s final installation will cover training and simulation.

About the Author

John Knolla is currently Manager, Product Support Engineering Group for an Engineering Services company in San Diego, CA. He has nearly 20 years of Technical and Management experience in Reliability, Maintainability & Safety Engineering, Integrated Logistics Support, Systems and Project Engineering, and Technical Documentation supporting Aerospace and Defense companies such as Hawker-Beechcraft Corporation, Eclipse Aviation, Dassault FalconJet, ITT, BAE Systems, Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation, Embraer, and The Spaceship Company.

He has served on Air Transport Association (ATA) Working Groups defining Digital Display and Flight Operations approaches for the airline industry, and the FAA/industry panel that developed Advisory Circular AC120-76/120-76A Guidelines for the Certification, Airworthiness and Operational Use of Electronic Flight Bags.

He currently holds an Instrument Rating and Commercial Pilot’s License and has flight experience in more than 30 different make/model fixed and rotary wing aircraft. John maintains membership in EAA (since 1987), AOPA, the International Aerobatic Club (IAC), the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) and the Redstar Pilot’s Association (RPA).

Aside | Posted on by | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Android Tablets as Electronic Flight Bags – Part 3

I am a little late in posting this to the blog, this article originally appeared in the EAA 14 Newsletter for March 2014, enjoy! 


 
Introduction

As you may recall from Part 1 and 2, this is a series of 5 articles about Android Tablets as Electronic Flight Bags, this series is arranged as follows:

  • Part 1 – an introduction to the EFB, the Regulatory environment and Terminology
  • Part 2 will discuss Software/Applications
  • Part 3 (this article) will discuss Hardware
  • Part 4 will discuss Accessories
  • Part 5 will discuss Training and Simulation

In last month’s article we reviewed applications, since choice of application and intended use will drive hardware selection (which device to buy). So this month, we are going to review several hardware specifications and how they relate to software/applications to enable you to select the right tablet.

As with the previous articles, I’ll introduce a few new terms related to hardware; specifically we will review form factor (size), processor (the computer part of the tablet), memory (onboard and removable memory capacity), connectivity (WiFi and/or 3G/4G LTE) and GPS, and display. And lastly I’ll review some of the leading Android Tablet’s by Form Factor (size) and basic capability to include retail pricing.

As mentioned before, keep in mind that none of the devices reviewed here are approved for use as a primary navigation source, this is a limitation of all mobile devices – however as also touched on in the previous articles, no approval is required for use as a source of supplemental information.

 1

Form Factor

Form Factor refers to the size and shape of the tablet. Common sizes are ‘small’ (7” and 8”), and ‘large’ (10.1”). Selection of form factor should be driven largely by the kind/size of aircraft you fly most often. For example, many mid-size and larger GA airplanes like the Cessna 182 or Bonanza have adequate room in the cockpit for the pilot to use a large 10.1” tablet, while smaller GA planes like Mooney’s and Grumman’s and most experimentals have less room in the cockpit and pilots might find the 7” or 8” tablets more comfortable to use.

3

Part of the consideration of form factor should be intended orientation of the tablet when in use, that is, portrait style (most common, think of looking at a piece of paper so that it is taller than it is wide), or landscape (wider than it is tall). Most if not all Android EFB applications discussed last month (for sure Garmin, Naviator, Avilution AvMaps and I believe the rest) support both portrait and landscape modes. I actually use both modes personally, preferring landscape for flight planning (especially for flights running east-to-west or west-to-east), but portrait when actually flying to take advantage of the split screen capabilities many EFB apps offer (for example moving map on top with AFD pages or approach plates on the bottom).

2

PORTRAIT AND LANDSCAPE ORIENTATION

The key element here of course is to ensure that tablet will not interfere with the free and correct use of the flight controls.

Processor

Just like the PC or laptop in your office or home, a tablet is basically a computer. And like any computer, the processor is the brain – and performance of the processor will largely determine the overall performance of the device. Performance specs for tablet devices are discussed in basically the same terms as our PC’s and laptops as well, so we don’t really need to learn much in the way of terminology. Processors are measured based on the number of cores (more is usually better), processing speed in Gigahertz (GHz), and System RAM memory (used for programs to run on as opposed to ‘storage’ memory discussed below). Assuming you have selected the type of EFB application you want to run you should have an idea how much processor is needed to run it based on the specs required for the app, but if in doubt I always recommend buy as much performance as you can afford.

Related to processor is which version of the Android Operating System the device is running which is determined in part by processor cores, speed and memory. Make sure that the device you want meets the minimum specifications including processor performance AND Android Operating System version (e.g., 4.1) for the EFB app you will be running.

Memory (onboard and removable)

All of the applications and their associated data (maps, frequencies, etc.) have to be stored somewhere and this is where memory comes in. For Android tablets there are effectively two type of memory, onboard (part of the basic hardware of the tablet itself), and removable memory (usually in the form of a removable solid-state MicroSD card). Memory needs are determined based on the number and type of applications, user information, and downloaded application data – as with all things computer related, more is usually better – but it becomes more important if the selected device has only onboard memory.

Fortunately for us, tablet makers have learned that we like lots of apps and data, and they have sized onboard memory capacities, usually in factors of 4 or 8 Gigabytes (GB). Most devices will come with between 8 and 32GB of onboard memory, and for casual users, as well as most EFB applications 32GB is more than adequate – many pilots can get by on only 16GB. That said however, if some is good, more is probably better – I recommend getting the most onboard memory you can afford, and I also prefer devices that will take a removable memory card.

Connectivity (WiFi and/or 3G/4G LTE) and GPS

Connectivity and GPS is, oddly, an area where technical specifications can get a little cloudy when looking at tablets. Most tablets have WiFi or wireless internet capability – think getting online at Starbucks or at your home over a wireless local area network (LAN). Some tablets also have a cellular network radio (3G, 4G or LTE) and can connect to common cellular telephone networks like Verizon, Sprint, or AT&T. This is important because it determines when/how you can connect for your EFB app to download updates and map or other information, as well as when/how you can upload flight plans to DUATS if using that function. Unless you have a smartphone that can serve as a ‘tether’ or ‘hotspot’, a WiFi only tablet will need to be on a wireless network to have an active data connection. In addition to flight planning, updates and other data exchanges, some EFB apps use a data connection for ADS-B weather, NEXRAD radar and other real-time, near-real-time data. Additionally, most current tablets also have Bluetooth radios that allow them to connect to external GPS and ADS-B receivers.

For GPS, many tablets have built-in GPS/GLONASS chipsets and some are more like some cell phones and use a system known as A-GPS or Assisted GPS to help speed up time to first fix by getting additional location information from cellular networks.

Obviously, any tablet to be used as an EFB should have either its own built-in GPS or be able to tether to a GPS source such as a smartphone or Bluetooth GPS.

Display

There is really only one thing to know about displays and that is whether or not you will be able to read it in the cockpit. This is basically a matter of brightness, as well as screen finish. There are several amazing display technologies currently being used, but a description of them is beyond the scope of this article. Just know that most tablets offer enough daylight readability for all but the brightest cockpits. One key element here is the use of screen protectors on the touchscreen to cut down on glare. Most of the companies that produce tablets have arranged for anti-glare and matte finish screen protectors that are pre-fit – it may take some experimentation to figure out which type works best in your cockpit.

7 and 8” Tablets

Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 7

 4

I have owned and flow with the original Samsung Galaxy Tab 7” and it was a nice setup. It fit reasonably well on a kneeboard and didn’t interfere with controls in smaller aircraft like the Glasair. The current Tab 3 model is a nice package that balances performance and cost (1.2 GHz, 8GB) and can take a MicroSD Card up to 32GB. Average retail is about $180 for a basic 8GB WiFi only version.

Samsung Galaxy Note 8

5

This is currently my personal EFB platform. The Note 8 offers great performance and capabilities including accurate handwriting capture with a high-tech digitizer element in the touchscreen. The 8” screen size is just bigger than the 7” but much more friendly in the cockpit than my larger 10.1” Acer tablet is. The Note 8 comes with a dual-core 1.5 GHz processor, 16GB of memory (and can take up to a 64GB MicroSD Card). Average retail is about $299.

 Google Nexus 7

 6

There are a lot of pilots using the Google Nexus 7 32GB. I have not flown with it myself but I do know there are a lot of them flying. One limit is the Nexus can not accept a MicroSD Card so most pilots choose the 32GB version. The Nexus has a 1.5 GHz quad-core processor and up to 32GB of memory. Average retail is about $280.

 Other devices

There are other devices such as the Amazon Kindle and Barnes and Noble Nook HDX which aren’t normal tablets in that they require Amazon or B&N market accounts but these have been hacked (modified) to work as EFB’s with varying degrees of success.

10/10.1” Tablets

Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 10.1

7

Like it’s 7” little brother, the Tab 3 10.1 is a good value. My personal large tablet is a 3 yr-old Acer A500 Iconia (not made any more) but the specs are similar, 1.6 GHz dual-core processor, up to 16GB of memory on board and up to 64GB MicroSD card. Average retail is about $350.

Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1

8

The 10.1” Note from Samsung is a pretty solid device. The big brother to my personal Note 8, it provides a lot of power and performance. 1.9 GHz quad-core processor, up to 32GB of memory onboard, and up to 128GB MicroSD Card. Average retail is about $550.

ASUS Transformer

9

The ASUS Transformer is another large format tablet that I have not personally flown but I have heard positive reports of other pilots enjoying it. The Transformer has a 1.9 GHz quad-core processor, up to 32GB of onboard memory and MicroSD Cards up to 64GB. Average retail is $449.

Other devices

As with the small format tablets, there are other devices in the 10.1 to 13” size that have been used as EFB’s with varying degrees of success.

Next month’s installation will cover accessories such as kneeboards, power supplies, external GPS sources and the like.

About the Author

John Knolla is currently Manager, Product Support Engineering Group for an Engineering Services company in San Diego, CA. He has nearly 20 years of Technical and Management experience in Reliability, Maintainability & Safety Engineering, Integrated Logistics Support, Systems and Project Engineering, and Technical Documentation supporting Aerospace and Defense companies such as Hawker-Beechcraft Corporation, Eclipse Aviation, Dassault FalconJet, ITT, BAE Systems, Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation, Embraer, and The Spaceship Company.

He has served on Air Transport Association (ATA) Working Groups defining Digital Display and Flight Operations approaches for the airline industry, and the FAA/industry panel that developed Advisory Circular AC120-76/120-76A Guidelines for the Certification, Airworthiness and Operational Use of Electronic Flight Bags.

He currently holds an Instrument Rating and Commercial Pilot’s License and has flight experience in more than 30 different make/model fixed and rotary wing aircraft. John maintains membership in EAA (since 1987), AOPA, the International Aerobatic Club (IAC), the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) and the Redstar Pilot’s Association (RPA).

Posted in Real World Aviation | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Android Tablets as Electronic Flight Bags – Part 2

I am a little late in posting this to the blog, this article originally appeared in the EAA 14 Newsletter for February 2014, enjoy!


Introduction

As you may recall from Part 1 of 5 articles about Android Tablets as Electronic Flight Bags, this series is arranged as follows:

  • Part 1 – an introduction to the EFB, the Regulatory environment and Terminology

  • Part 2 (this article) will discuss Software/Applications

  • Part 3 will discuss Hardware

  • Part 4 will discuss Accessories

  • Part 5 will discuss Training and Simulation

In this Part, I will introduce several Android Applications that can function as Type A and Type B Software as defined by FAA. I will provide reviews of applications I have personally used, along with overviews of other applications I am not personally familiar with, including pricing, installation, and where to go for more information or to download or purchase. We will talk applications first since choice of application and intended use will drive the next article which is hardware selection (which device to buy).

Most of the applications are fairly intuitive and while there would seem to be a fairly limited number of ways to interact with software, there are more than enough differences between them for me to try and capture the specifics for each of the applications listed below. Most either come with a downloadable PDF manual or online help and many also have online Youtube videos prepared either by the developer themselves or dedicated users.

Image

For this article, we’ll introduce a few new terms, EFB Applications come in basically three types, those that are free (freeware), those which have initial and/or ongoing expenses (payware), and those which may eventually be payware but which are initially released as a free test version (Beta). Another term we’ll use in this article is Geo-Referenced which means a chart or plate that allows for the display of aircraft position on the chart or plate (like an approach plate for example).

Image Image

One thing to keep in mind is that none of the applications reviewed here are approved for use as a primary navigation source, this is a limitation of all mobile devices – however as touched on in the first part, no approval is required for use as a source of supplemental information.

Overview of Typical EFB Uses

Below, I have listed the primary uses for EFB’s in Part 91 operations:

  • Preflight Weather and Flight Planning

  • Flight Plan Filing and Briefing

  • In-Flight Situational Awareness

  • Technical Documentation

Preflight Weather and Flight Planning

Most of the EFB applications have at least some rudimentary ability to check current weather data, either forecast or real-time or near real-time radar data, usually with METAR, TAF and other FAA/NOAA products as well. They also usually include some flight planning capability, from simple waypoint to waypoint planning up to dynamic rubber-band style or graphical flight planning.

These features combine to assist in the initial planning of a flight as well as the tactical decision making the night before a flight or even the day of. The ability to check for NOTAMs, weather patterns, fuel prices, airport services (AFD pages) and more, up to and including just prior to takeoff can really improve the go/no go decision.

Most EFB applications allow for the storing of favorite routes as well as one-touch route reversal to take an existing flight plan and simply reverse the order of waypoints and the bearing/track/time enroute information for setting up the return trip home.

Flight Plan Filing and Briefing

Similar to the Preflight Weather and Flight Planning above, most of the applications have the ability to initiate a weather/route briefing and can even file a flight plan using DUATS or similar. Several applications can also download an electronic briefing by decoding METARs, TAFs and other weather products along the planned route. This provides a simple electronic method for filing flight plans and getting a briefing in a streamlined fashion.

In-Flight Situational Awareness

The primary interest for many pilots with EFB’s is for in-flight situational awareness, primarily moving maps. Most of the EFB applications provide moving map displays with various layers of information. The underlying imagery is called the Base Map and will usually include Sectional charts, Terminal Area Charts, Topographic or Elevation maps, even basic roadmaps. On top of the base map, it is usually possible to layer weather radar, cloud imagery, infrared satellite, flight path and even traffic data depending on the application and available data.

Data sources can be downloaded prior to flight via WiFi, can be downloaded while in-flight via telephone cellular networks, or via the ADS-B and TIS-B systems for select application and hardware combinations.

Moving map displays can provide an incredible level of situational awareness by also giving access to Airport Facility Directory (AFD) and other airport information, such as various radio frequencies, runway and traffic pattern information, FBO phone numbers, and even nearby points of interest.

Image

Technical Documentation

One area that is not typically an actual part of the EFB applications themselves but which can be installed on any Android device are document readers to provide Airplane Flight Manuals, Pilot’s Operating Handbooks, Pilot’s Guides or other documents. The Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) allows for quick and easy electronic versions of literally any manual. If you fly a lot of different aircraft, this really makes a difference in the weight of your flight bag. I highly recommend using a document reader to maximize the value of any EFB.

So without further adieu, here is a brief review of several leading applications.

Garmin Pilot (Payware)

Overview

Garmin Pilot is my current EFB application. The user interface is very intuitive, the built-in and online manuals are very legible, and the application is very stable on my Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 tablet as well as my Acer Iconia A500 10” Tablet.

Garmin Pilot is, in my opinion, the 800 lb Gorilla of Android EFB’s. It is the Cadillac application, Garmin is a huge developer, and they offer an iOS version of Pilot for Apple fans and the application is feature-rich. Graphics are fantastic, flight-planning is very intuitive, and all pilot, aircraft, flight plan and subscription data is stored on the Garmin network tied to a Google account and can be accessed on PC as well as up to 2 Android devices meaning it is easy to share across devices.

Garmin Pilot is payware, the base application costs $74.99/yr with optional Geo-Referenced Approach Plates for an additional $49.99/yr and Garmin’s SafeTaxi which are geo-referenced airport and runway diagrams that show the aircraft position for $24.99/yr.

Garmin does allow for a free 30 day trial of the base application to include all the various basemap images which is a great introduction to its’ capabilities.

Avilution Aviation Maps (Payware)

Overview

Prior to purchasing Garmin Pilot, Avilution’s Aviation Maps application was my preferred EFB application. Aviation Maps began as a free application but as it became more feature rich it eventually moved to a paid application. Like Garmin Pilot it provides for flight planning, briefing, weather and excellent moving map capabilities. A nice element of Aviation Maps is the ability to select custom aircraft icons for the moving map to include canards, biplanes, warbids, even jet types.

I really like Avilution as a developer, the gentleman who started it is the primary tech support contact, and he is very responsive to bug reports as well as feature requests. The in-flight interface is very good, however the flight planning interface is not as polished as Garmin Pilot.

Avilution Aviation Maps is payware, the base application costs $74.95/yr with the Premium application costing $149.90/yr but including Geo-Referenced Approach Plates and Airport Diagrams.

Like Garmin, Avilution has a free 30 day trial of the base application to include all the various basemap images.

AVARE (Freeware)

Overview

One application I recently became aware of is called Avare. Avare is not quite as seamless and easy to use as Garmin Pilot or Avilution Aviation Maps, but it is very feature rich for a truly free application. I have not flown with Avare, nor have I tried to connect it to the simulator, but playing with it a few times at the airport and at home shows it to be a very capable application that offers a lot of capability. For basic Day/Night VFR flying it seems very hard to beat Avare as an entry-level application.

The graphics quality on Avare is not quite as clean as the Payware applications, I assume due to the manner they are scanned for use in the application but as mentioned above, for a free application they are more than adequate. It also includes a fair amount of customization for the data fields which show when flying.

Avare is freeware, there are no costs for the base application including regular updates to the various navigation data products used.

NAVIATOR (Payware)

Overview

I have downloaded Naviator and played with it a little but have not flown with it. Naviator has a decent interface but the downloads are not intuitive compared to the other Payware applications (or weren’t when I tried it last year). The graphics quality was good, but the in-flight interface was also not as polished as the other Payware offerings.

Naviator currently supports several ADS-B traffic receivers, and also support DUATS briefing/flight plan filing. It also supports some AHRS/attitude source devices for a simulated EADI function which is cool.

Naviator is payware, the base application costs $14.99 which unlocks the application. Charts are $34.99/yr and include geo-referencing.

iFly GPS (Beta)

Overview

I was recently approached by the developer of iFly GPS to evaluate the Beta version of their product. I have downloaded it and played with it a little but have not flown with it yet. The interface and download management are intuitive and the graphics quality is good. Once it is considered stable/mature, I am sure they will charge for it but for now it is a great free application.

EBookDroid Electronic Reader (Freeware)

Overview

As I mentioned in the beginning of this article, one use for EFB’s on larger aircraft that I want to encourage pilots of smaller aircraft to consider is the storage and display of technical manual type data such as Flight Manuals, Maintenance Manuals, Pilot’s Guides and the like. There are many PDF reader applications available for Android but the one I have found to offer the most control and best speed is call EBookDroid Electronic Reader. This is a free application but I would gladly pay for it if it was Payware.

Image

Next month’s installation will cover the hardware choices, which tablet or other device best suits your intended use and the applications you plan to use.

About the Author

John Knolla is currently Manager, Product Support Engineering Group for an Engineering Services company in San Diego, CA. He has nearly 20 years of Technical and Management experience in Reliability, Maintainability & Safety Engineering, Integrated Logistics Support, Systems and Project Engineering, and Technical Documentation supporting Aerospace and Defense companies such as Hawker-Beechcraft Corporation, Eclipse Aviation, Dassault FalconJet, ITT, BAE Systems, Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation, Embraer, and The Spaceship Company.

He has served on Air Transport Association (ATA) Working Groups defining Digital Display and Flight Operations approaches for the airline industry, and the FAA/industry panel that developed Advisory Circular AC120-76/120-76A Guidelines for the Certification, Airworthiness and Operational Use of Electronic Flight Bags.

He currently holds an Instrument Rating and Commercial Pilot’s License and has flight experience in more than 30 different make/model fixed and rotary wing aircraft. John maintains membership in EAA (since 1987), AOPA, the International Aerobatic Club (IAC), the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) and the Redstar Pilot’s Association (RPA).

Posted in Real World Aviation | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Train like you fly, fly like you train Part 2

As many readers know, I am an advocate of using flight simulation for General Aviation pilots to hone our skills and have been on a quest for Apps, software and approaches that will allow us to maximize the use of technology to create high-value training scenarios. I recently completed just such a training flight and wanted to share some of the tools I used as well as details and experiences from the flight.

After a recent frustrating 8-hour drive home from Las Vegas, I began looking at renting a 182 for our next trip and used FSX to check out the route.

IMG_20130804_152422_778_zpsdbc532b0
IMG_20130811_095429_129_zps5da817f1

IMG_20130811_095449_909_zps557ae58c
IMG_20130811_095510_064_zpsa465d72e

In this new FSX post I discuss using FSX to fly upcoming trips for the real world as a training aid.

http://acrogimpfsf.wordpress.com/2013/08/11/using-fsx-to-pre-fly-upcoming-flights/

‘Gimp

Posted in Flight Simulation, Real World Aviation | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

A Call to Action

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recently began pushing local airshows and major aviation events to provide exhorbitant new funding for air traffic control staffing that has been provided on request, without fees, in some cases for the past 50 years.

http://govt.eaa.org/10387/this-isnt-over-continue-fight-against-ga-event-fees/

The link above provides a mechanism for sending a letter to Congress demanding FAA reconsider or at the very least explain why they are threatening aviation safety by extorting fees for services which are already directly funded by aviation fuel and other excise taxes.

If the freedom to fly (and surely enough other freedoms later) means anything to you, please consider taking a minute or two to visit the linked site and send a letter to your Congressman.

Blue Skies!

‘Gimp

Posted in Real World Aviation | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Gimpy Pilot Report – Yakovlev Yak-52

On Friday 6/7/2013 I had the great pleasure of meeting Roger Baker, a retired airline pilot and owner of N85YK, a 1985 Yakovlev Yak-52. The Yak-52 has been the primary trainer in use in Russia and her client states since the late 70’s. Roger has been importing and flying Yak’s and other Soviet/Russian aircraft for roughly 20 years – he has over 1,500 hours in the Yak-52 alone. I suspect one would be hard pressed to find a better or more knowledgeable introduction to the Yak.

More

‘Gimp

Video | Posted on by | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment