Chris Stevens

Aviation. Tech.

Flying Digital: iPad + ForeFlight HD (Part 2)

In Part 1, I talked about the benefits of going paperless in the cockpit with the iPad.  For this installment, I’ll go over some actual early in-flight operations.  Mounting options, flight control clearance, and screen polarization are covered.

Both flights so far (1 IFR and 1 VFR) were performed with only the trial period of the Foreflight HD software.  That means that you can’t bulk download charts and data for a whole region.  You have to lookup each airport and save all of the terminal plates and then scroll around the map area that you’ll need.  Also, the “Pro” subscription is required to test the geo-referenced approach and taxi charts.  It would have been nice to be able to try this during my 30-day trial period, but it is a new feature and I hope it will be added to the trial at a later date.

Discarding the IFR flight because I hadn’t read the software user manual yet leaves us with a bumpy local VFR flight.  Mooney cockpits are notoriously compact like a sports car, so the first issue is finding space for the iPad.  The instrument panel is full and the Johnson bar for the manual landing gear leaves out a lower-pedestal mounting option, so I’m left with the kneeboard option.  This is fine anyway since I almost always fly with a kneeboard and there are some swanky new boards coming to market especially for the iPad.  The other issue with the kneeboard is that the flight control arm comes dangerously close to the iPad glass nearing full right deflection.  It’s rare that we need full right deflection, but if we did, it’s highly unlikely that I’ll have enough time to ensure that the pretty glass is safely clear before righting the aircraft.  I don’t think Cessna drivers will have this problem, and certainly the side-stick (Cirrus and Lancair) guys are loving all their knee-room.

My next issue is polarization of the screen.  With my now 4-year old Maui Jim’s, the iPad screen is completely black in portrait mode.  Rotate to landscape and all is great in the world except my space issue with the flight controls.  Also, the approach charts are portrait and look glorious that way.  If you wear (and like) polarized sunglasses, you’ll want to check this out before purchase and preferrably in sunlight.

In the next installment, we’ll cover building and actually flying routes.  There is at least one trick that you’ll need to know before launching out into a real flight.