iPad+Foreflight+Stratus=Awesome!


Okay I agree I am way behind on the bandwagon… But I have not been flying as often as I would like to, the last year or two.

After my visit to California last time (see Hanger Walk Anyone?), I came away excited and enthusiastic to invest in a new iPad and ForeFlight for iPad. But the iPad I had was wifi only and so all I used it for was pre-flight planning for almost a year.

I saw Stratus in action a few months ago on a $500 hamburger run with fellow 99s and friends Pat and Linda. We dodged clouds and traversed the VFR corridor through the DC SFRA. Wow! I thought, I need to get me one of those!

But like I said, my meager flying these days did not justify another almost $1000 investment. My handheld GPS, handheld radio, intercom, etc all expensive, all useful and essential backup avionics in an emergency lie unused and rarely touched these days. Gone where the days I flew older aircraft with minimal avionics on board that necessitated carrying backup avionics for safety. Granted even in the newer aircraft carrying backup is prudent, but I seem to rarely do so.

Last October as we planned our fall flyout to Niagara Falls to check some fall foliage and the falls, I knew it was time to invest in Stratus and so I did. The flight got scrubbed (see Tangier Again) and the Stratus lay tucked away for the last three months.

It was bright and sunny, as Linda and I departed on our short cross country. It was perfect weather to familiarize ourselves with the new gadgets we had: my iPad + Foreflight + Stratus and Linda’s iPad with 3G. We had double backup as we plugged in our flight plan into the on board GPS and our two iPads and turned on our devices to see the little blinking aircraft make it’s way along our route of flight.

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The only difference I noticed between my iPad and Linda’s iPad with 3G was when I opened the approach plate to fly the RNAV GPS approach into CGE. Mine no longer showed the aircraft overlayed on the chart, while Linda’s continued to track even on the approach plate. And a major difference also lay in the ability to use the iPad with 3G  anywhere one wanted to whereas with the wifi I was limited to using it where ever free wifi was available. On the ground, Linda opened her iPad while we had our $500 ham (veg) burger at Kay’s at the airport and quickly and easily filed the return flight plan.

The double back up proved very useful  on the return trip as we erroneously entered the flight plan wrongly into the built in GPS and drifted way off course. Flying that close to the prohibited area surrounding the DC area, we were glad to catch it in the iPad a lot sooner and fix it. Truth be told we were drifting away from the prohibited area rather than towards it, either way it was doubly satisfying to use all the tools we had at our fingertips and fix it.

Too bad there was not a cloud in sight. Maybe next time. Stay tuned for more adventures in the future. Am happy to be off to a flying start in 2013 and hope to do a lot more flying this year!

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