Sunday, November 5, 2017

Tips for Getting Back into the Cockpit

Flying to Catalina.
One key thing I learned from Dave Winer about blogging is that its purpose is to narrate one's work. Whenever I type up a long "how to" e-mail, I realize that other's can probably use the info so I post it to my blog.

A classmate from the Naval Academy wrote me, today, saying that she wanted to get back into flying and she asked for my opinion. 

Here's my response...

Hello Melissa,

Great to hear from you.

Head-set, what type do you use? 
I used headset. It uses foam hearing aid plugs which provides excellent passive noise reduction (plus it doesn’t press against your glasses/sunglasses like traditional headsets). When I was learning to fly, a couple of my instructors were using headsets with active noise reduction (i.e. like Bose), but their batteries kept dying making the noice cancellation useless until they replaced the batteries.
If a helicopter uses the same two prong headset connector as a fixed wing plane then it should work.

Ipad? What are you using? Wi-fi, or the wifi plus cellular?
I always fly with my iPad using the ForeFlight app. It is phenomenal. It graphically shows TFRs, weather, etc. I have cellular so I can file a flight plan via ForeFlight  But cellular isn’t required. When you subscribe to the app, you can use it on two devices like an iPad and iPhone, so you could file your flight plane (VFR or IFR) via your iPhone.
You don’t need data connectivity when flying because ForeFlight downloads any VFR and IFR charts that you need, plus it’ll download the approach plates so you can see your position on an approach as well as on a taxi diagram. 
I have a Stratus receiver that I place above my panel and it relays NexRad weather and traffic to my iPad, plus Stratus has WAAS to augment GPS with accuracy down to one meter.

Kneeboard? Type you use?
I have a generic kneeboard that I bought at my flight school. Nothing special about that other than it has a bunch of handy stuff written on it like light signal codes for loss of communications, special transponder frequencies for emergencies, etc. 

Any sectionals or maps you recommend?
The FAA allows private pilots to use ForeFlight as an EFB (electronic flight bag) in lieu of paper maps/charts, A/FD, etc. Keep in mind, though, that technology can fail. I had that happen once, after I landed at an airport, so I pulled out my iPhone and used the taxi diagram on my iPhone to taxi. I still print out my approach plates and taxi diagrams and have them clipped to my yoke.

Anything else you can recommend to help get me back in the air?
I don’t use anything from Jeppesen only because, when ForeFlight first came out, they used FAA approach plates and charts. Now, ForeFlight offers Jepp, but what I’ve been using is great.

Of everything I mentioned, ForeFlight is the most important to me. You can probably download it and try it for free for a month or so to check it out. It’s amazing. It’s revolutionized cockpit resource management for the single pilot.

One other piece of gear that I love is my Brightline flight bag. It’s modularized to be taken apart, but I always fly with the entire bag. It holds my iPad, Clarity Aloft headset, Stratus receiver, clipboard, charts, flashlight, emergency hand held radio etc.

How’s that sound?
Don’t hesitate to let me know if you have any more questions.


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