Weekends are for flying! As a private pilot with VFR (visual flight rules) rating, here are the five apps I have come to rely on.
- ForeFlight – This app is a must for all private pilots. It contains sectional chart info for the entire United States, the Airport Facility Directory, weather information across flight routes, and GPS tracking on 3G devices. Even though it has a $75/year subscriptions fee, it really is an indispensable resource for the private pilot.
- AeroWeather – I keep this app on my iPhone for quick checks of the weather at the local airports I’ve bookmarked. As a VFR pilot, there are weather minimums I must follow when I fly. This app provides the visibility, cloud and wind information I need to know before I go. The handy color-coded icons (green for VFR, red for IFR, or blue for MVFR) let me know if I should drive out to the airport or stay home.
- LiveATC – Like any field, aviation has its own language. Pilots use their own alphabet and vocabulary and must follow a set of conversational rules in order to communicate safely with each other and with air traffic control. As with any language learning, the more exposure you get to the target language, the more opportunity you have to learn that target language. This app allows me to listen to pilots’ conversations when I am on the ground making me a safer pilot when I am in the air.
- Sporty’s E6B Flight Computer – This app makes quick work of the calculations pilots used to have to do on a traditional flight computer such as calculate crosswind components, wind corrections, fuel burn, etc. More importantly, unlike a stressed pilot in a cockpit negotiating navigation, communication, aircraft avoidance, aircraft performance and more, the E6B doesn’t make any math errors!
- Flashlight and Camera – So, not really apps but just as important are the built in flashlight and camera. The flashlight is handy when doing pre-flight checks to make sure the oil level is sufficient, the alternator belt is intact and to verify that no birds have built nests in the engine cowling. And, since we always have a phone or tablet on hand, the camera is readily available for documenting all the places you’ve flown.
(Flying the Hudson River Exclusion)