June 14, 2009

Sporty's Releases a Great New G1000 Training Course

garmin_g1000_checkout.jpgSporty's recently released Garmin G1000 Checkout ($89.95) a 2-Disc set dedicated to helping pilots transition from flying traditional steam gauges to flying the Garmin based Glass Cockpit. Having recently reviewed four other G1000 products I was interested to see how this latest entry into the G1000 training market would fare.

Included in the package is a DVD training video and a copy of the G1000 PC Software Simulator. The DVD is hosted by Airshow Announcer and frequent Sporty's Training DVD host Rob Reider. If you have used other Sporty's DVD products this course will feel familiar right from the start. I preferred this product over the previously reviewed Sporty's Air Facts: Flying Glass Cockpits which split its time between the G1000 and the Avidyne FlightMax Entegra. The Garmin G1000 Checkout provided some great scenario-based training as you fly along on two VFR flights and one IFR cross-country flight.

I enjoyed that this product came bundled with the G1000 PC Software Simulator. As expected after watching the video I wanted to jump in the cockpit but I did the next best thing and used the G1000 Simulator to try some of the steps shown in the video. Repetition is one key to learning and retaining lessons and tips learned from the DVD.

I strongly recommend this product as it is a great resource for pilots planning to fly the G1000. However, the one shortfall of all DVDs is they are limited in what they can cover, and follow a pre-determined path. I suggest complimenting the Garmin G1000 Checkout with Max Trescott's G1000 Glass Cockpit Handbook which will give you an in-depth resource that will help you to continue to learn while also leveraging your new G1000 simulator.


Posted at 11:20 AM | Post Category: Aviation Products, G1000 | Comments (0) | Save & Share This Story

May 11, 2009

A Mother's Day Brush with Get-There-Itis

flyingwithdad.jpgThis weekend I had my first opportunity to confront one of the leading killer of pilots, Get-There-itis. The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association say "The determination to reach a destination, combined with hazardous weather, claims the lives of dozens of pilots and their passengers yearly." For weeks I have been planning a cross-country flight to Indianapolis. The plan was for my Dad and I to fly from Chicago to Indy to visit my Grandmother (my Dad's mother) and also enjoy the first day of time trials for the Indy 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

As the flight date drew closer, the weather in the 10 day forecast continued to improve, only to disappoint the day prior to the trip. The night before our Saturday morning departure the forecast called for rain, low ceilings and high winds. When I awoke, I was encouraged by the look outside but that did not last long. A combination of online weather through AOPA's website and a call to Flight Service for a weather briefing proved that it would not be a great day for the flight. At my destination there was a direct crosswind of 18 knots, gusting to 25 with forecast for no change in winds. Additionally, at airports near Chicago there were deteriorating ceilings and reports of turbulence and wind shear. I made the executive decision to scrub the flight.

Luckily the weather looked like it would improve overnight. So I adjusted plans for a Sunday roundtrip. I woke up Sunday morning to a nearly windless blue sky. I picked up my Dad and we headed out to Chicago Executive. and before too long we were airborne and flying along the Chicago skyline enroute to Indianapolis. It was a quiet morning in the skies so we had no trouble getting flight following from Chicago Approach and throughout the flight. I enjoyed showing my Dad the the intricacies of the G1000. Having been raised in Indiana he seemed to enjoy viewing towns from above that previously he had only been accustomed to seeing from the ground level.

toddandgrandma.jpgAfter arriving at Eagle Creek Airpark we drove out to visit with my Grandmother. We decided to go back towards the airport for a Mother's Day brunch. We ate at Rick's Boatyard a favorite destination for pilots. I had to sample the Boatyard burger since it was rated in the Top 10 $100 Hamburgers of 2009 earlier this year. The burger lived up to its rating. Even better was the company. It was great sharing the flight with my Dad then enjoying a Mother's Day brunch with my Grandmother (one of my loyal readers, Thanks Grandma) and my Dad.

After the enjoyable meal I re-checked the weather. According to the briefer it looked like we would have lower ceilings but fine VFR flying weather, so we fired up the trusty Cessna and rolled down the runway for departure. Again we were able to pick-up flight following, though as we approached Chicago the controllers were getting busier and busier and finally canceled our flight following. We also noticed visibility diminishing a bit as we approached Lake Michigan and a light rain started to fall on the windshield. As we passed Gary, IN the rain increased and it became apparent that there was a storm ahead in the Chicago area.

Although we were anxious to get home to enjoy a Mother's Day dinner with my mother I knew the right call was to divert. During flight training instructors often have their students practice unexpected diversions. A pilot on my shoulder reminded me of all the horror stories about pilots flying into instrument meteorological conditions(IMC). Since earning my license I have not had a real reason to divert but found the decision came easy. I always figured I would not be one of those pigheaded pilots who suffer from Get-There-Itis, and was glad to see I could resist that urge!

I called up Gary and re-routed for landing at Gary International. My Dad and I sat back in the leather chairs at the Gary JetCenter and watched part of the Cubs game while I periodically checked in on the patchy storms working their way through Chicago. After about a forty-five minute break the weather had cleared and we were back on our way. The storm had cleared out the General Aviation traffic and we were able to pick-up flight following again for the bumpy return flight up the lakefront.

Often people ask what I love about flying. I can say that this weekend's flights was one of the best reasons to fly. I was able to spend a great day with my Dad while surprising my Grandmother for Mother's Day and enjoying her company for the day. I look forward to making this flight again sometime soon. Weather permitting, of course.

March 24, 2009

Four Great Products for Glass Cockpit Pilots

g1000_poster.jpgAll of my 2009 flight experiences have been in the G1000 enabled Cessna 172SP. I took a few introductory flights with an instructor then most recently flew a short solo cross country to continue to build both confidence and proficiency in the Glass Cockpit.

I have had the privilege of checking out several products that have been designed to help pilots transition into the glass cockpit and wanted to share my reviews with you.

Garmin G1000 Cockpit Poster Sporty's offers a free Garmin G1000 Cockpit Poster with an order over $4.50. If you are already planning on placing an order with Sporty's add this to our shopping cart before checking out. I found it to be a valuable reference while trying to memorize the location of the G1000 knobs and keys. I kept it laid out on a table while referencing many of the materials listed below.

g1000_maxtrescott_handbook.jpgMax Trescott's G1000 Glass Cockpit Handbook
I know several pilots that have transitioned into the glass cockpit and nearly all of them used and highly recommended Max Trescott's line of products. Max is a Master CFI and Master Ground Instructor that was named the 2008 National CFI of the Year. He did an excellent job of cataloging his knowledge on the G1000 in the Max Trescott's G1000 Glass Cockpit Handbook. I found it to be a quick and easy read that provided many valuable tips for getting the most out of the G1000. Many of the tips Max provided where either overlooked by my CFI in my introductory flights and things I am glad I learned before bad habits formed. I think the G1000 Glass Cockpit is a must own manual for G1000 pilots. Read it once then keep it on your bookshelf or in your flightbag for future reference. The book can be purchased on Max Trescott's website for $34.95.



g1000_maxtrescott_cdrom.jpgMax Trescott's VFR+IFR Garmin G1000 CD-Rom Course
I also checked out the complimentary CD-Rom course that Max Trescott developed for G1000 pilots. Much of the content that is on the CD-Rom is duplicated from the book but presented with narration and interactive imagery. If you are on a limited training budget you might be able to get by with either the handbook or the CD-Rom. Choose which is most appropriate for the way you prefer to learn. Personally, I enjoy having both options in my arsenal. I liked that the The CD-Rom did a good job of showing all the softkeys and how they interact with the different screens of the PFD and MFD. As, I have not gone through Instrument training yet I have not checked out the IFR CD-Rom. Priced at $99.95 this is the most expensive of the products I checked out.



g1000_4.jpgSporty's Air Facts: Flying Glass Cockpits
The Sporty's Air Facts: Flying Glass Cockpits video download is another great resource for the G1000 bound pilot. The advantage of the video is it shows the G1000 in action, not through screen captures and still images but through live motion video. You can see how the G1000 is likely to appear when you are behind the yoke. I liked the portability that allowed me to bring this along via my iPhone for viewing at my convenience. The one downside to a video compared to a manual or CD-Rom is it is harder to jump to a specific spot for reference purposes. It is a great product for getting an overview and introduction to the G1000 and the Avidyne FlightMax Entegra. The video can be downloaded directly from Sporty's for $9.95.

If you plan to fly the Glass Cockpit I highly recommend all of these great products. Safe flying!


Posted at 3:06 AM | Post Category: Flight School, G1000 | Comments (1) | Save & Share This Story

March 16, 2009

Spring Weather Brings Crowded Skies

weekendflight.jpgThe mercury is on the rise in thermometers throughout the Midwest and pilots are finding their way back to the airport. I could not resist the call and reserved a plane for a weekend afternoon flight, my first in over a month. While enjoying the first jacketless pre-flight of the year I noticed all the empty spots on the tarmac and realized I was not the only one with the great idea of going flying.

After engine start-up and taking down ATIS notes I had to be patient to wait for a break in all the radio chatter to make my initial call-up to Chicago Executive ground control. I informed them that after departing their airspace I would be interested in flight following for my flight to Waukesha (KUES). Sometimes getting flight following in the Chicago airspace can be hit or miss and I worried that I might not get flight following as I figured the controllers would be busy. I was right about them being busy but they were able to support my request.

As I departed the Chicago Executive airspace I counted more than seven airplanes on the G1000 MFD. I felt confident I would have safe separation from the aircraft with the combination of my visual scan, the G1000 traffic advisories and updates from the air traffic controllers.

The weather was ideal for flying with light and variable winds, unrestricted visibility and no sign of a ceiling in any direction. After a nice 40 minute flight I arrived at a busy Waukesha airport. There were several planes performing their pre-flight run-up and three planes in addition to mine that were communicating to the tour while heading inbound for landings. I made a nice smooth landing and taxied to the terminal for a short break.

When I was ready to depart for the return leg I had the airwaves and airport to myself. On the return flight I again requested and received flight following. At one point the controller pointed out traffic to my two o'clock position eastbound and also a plane at eleven o'clock northwestbound both at ~3,000 feet I watched from a few thousand feet above and a mile or so away as these two airplanes crossed paths much closer than I would have preferred as one of the pilots. I don't believe either was taking advantage of flight following services as I never heard the controller give either of them traffic advisories.

I highly recommend pilots take advantage of flight following whenever they can on a VFR flight. When I trained my instructors never spent much time teaching me how to request flight following and how to use the service. I found this PDF to be a valuable resource for detailing how flight following works.

I enjoyed adding another new airport to my list of airports visited while also building more time and experience in the G1000 enabled Cessna 172SP. I will be publishing a few posts in the coming week outlining some of the tools I have used in the past few weeks to continue to learn all the great features of the G1000.

February 1, 2009

Cleared to Fly the Glass Cockpit

gpsmap200.jpgOn Saturday I went for my second familiarization flight in the G1000 enabled Cessna. On my first flight last week we spent most the time reviewing the basic functionality of the G1000 system. Saturday's focus was on how to handle failures and also how to use some of the advanced options such as flight planning and working with the autopilot.

I planned a 120NM cross country flight from Chicago Executive to Rockford (KRFD), De Kalb (KDKB), Schaumburg (06C) and then back to Chicago Executive. After firing up the Cessna my CFI showed me how to enter the entire flightplan into the G1000. We used two GPS waypoints and each airport to set our course. It took only a few minutes to get the hang of it and get the entire flight entered into the system.

My preflight briefing with Flight Service warned me of some light to moderate chop along the route and also some stiff winds. Sure enough as we climbed out of Chicago Executive we got tossed around a bit until we climbed above 2,500 feet at which point the ride became smoother. As I turned the plane west for Rockford we took on a direct 53 knot headwind slowing our forward progression to a measly 52 knots. I felt like I was back in my trusty Cessna 152 I used to train in. I did not mine the slow progression though as we had a beautiful view of the snow-covered farm lands below. It also allowed some time for me to learn how to use the autopilot feature. I was able to engage the autopilot to maintain our flightplan path and to maintain our altitude. It made for a very relaxing flight to Rockford.

snowyflighblog.jpgAs we approached Rockford we learned we would be following in a Boeing 767 which was cool. I have on shared runways with the big tin when flying into Midway. After making a nice landing at Rockford we taxied around to depart on their westbound runway. We had a beautiful view as I lined the airplane up on the centerline the setting sun was directly in front of us. I regret now not snapping a photo before departing. It has been a long time since I have been airborne during a sunset and forgot what a wonderful way it is to enjoy the end of a day.

From Rockford we headed southeast to De Kalb which allowed us to partially benefit from the strong winds from the West. It was after departing De Kalb that we started flying east and now enjoyed the 53 knots of wind as a tailwind. All of a sudden we were cruising along at a ground speed of just over 170 knots.

As we approached Schaumburg it became apparent we were going to have an extremely strong direct crosswind so we decided not to make an landing. Instead we continued on to Chicago Executive for my first night landing in nearly two years. I forgot how your perspective changes at night and flared earlier than I should have and our landing was not nearly as smooth as I would have liked. Though, not even a less than stellar landing could dampen my mood. I love flying this 2 year old Cessna with the G1000. I am now signed off to fly it and look forward to enjoying flights in this plan in 2009!

January 25, 2009

Addicted to the G1000 Cessna After a Brief Taste

CessnaPreHeat.jpgMother Nature was kind enough to let me go flying this weekend. Although she kept the snow and high winds away, I did have a chilly 8° pre-flight experience. After a 15-minute pre-heat of the engine the plane was ready to fly. Yesterday's flight was a fun learning experience for me. It was only my second flight in a glass cockpit equipped airplane. With all the other Cessnas booked for the weekend I had the choice to see another weekend go by without flying or check out the 47TN and its G1000 Glass Cockpit.

In order to better prepare for this flight I downloaded Sporty's Flying Glass Cockpit video. This helped me learn the ins and outs of the G1000 glass cockpit. I highly recommend the video to anyone looking to fly in a glass cockpit. On top of that video, when I arrived at the airport the CFI I was flying with sat me down and walked me through a computer-based demo of the G1000. The combination of the video and software tutorial made me feel much more comfortable in the G1000 cockpit.

GlassPanelG1000.jpgI can see how it is often said that the biggest problem with the G1000 is remembering to look outside the cockpit. The combination of great data, traffic advisories and weather information could be construed as information overload. But I think it provides information that can make your flying more precise and safe if used properly. One of my favorite features was the last call playback. After being advised by the Kenosha tower with instructions for entering the pattern and runway to use my instructor showed me that if I forgot or misunderstood the last call I could hit the playback button and hear it again. This is wonderful as it allows me to double check what I was cleared for without me having to clutter up the airways with a repeat of the call.

I realize now that my FBO is acting like a drug dealer. Giving me just a taste of the G1000 knowing now I will not want to go back to my standard Cessna 172 with its antiquated steam gauges. This plane 47TN is only two years old and even offered seat belts that included air bags (I had no idea these even existed). This is a long way from the Cessna 152 I took on my introductory flight over five years ago that had more duct tape than seat fabric inside the cockpit.

I plan on taking one more flight with a CFI next weekend so that I am checked out to fly the G1000 Cessna 172 whenever I want. On the next flight we will review the flight planning functionality the G1000 offers and also how to deal with screen failures or other emergency situations in relation to the G1000.

January 23, 2009

Preparing to Fly the Glass Cockpit

glasscockpit.jpgI am hoping to log my first hours of flying in 2009 this weekend. The weather looks to be cold but clear enough for me to fit in a flight. The only plane that was available was the Windy City Flyers Cessna 172 that is equipped with the G1000 glass cockpit.

I have only flown a glass cockpit equipped airplane once before when I had the chance to take a flight down the Hudson River to check-out the New York City skyline. After that flight I posted "After spending all of my flight time flying with traditional gauges I expected to be overwhelmed by the glass cockpit displays. But, I found them easy to read and relatively intuitive. I can see how it would take 10-20 hours to master the use of the system but after a little over an hour I was starting to understand where I needed to look to find the relevant information."

That was nearly two years ago so I am sure that the glass cockpit will seem foreign to me again but I am looking forward to giving it another try. I will update you on my experience after the flight.


Posted at 6:31 PM | Post Category: Cessna 172 SP, G1000 | Comments (2) | Save & Share This Story

May 23, 2006

Scenic New York City Flight

Statue of LibertyA couple of months ago I read a great feature article in Pilot Getaways Magazine about a general aviation corridor that allowed general aviation aircraft to fly along the Hudson River to see the skyscrapers of New York City from Window-height. After reading the article I knew I needed to give this flight experience a try. While visiting some family in New Jersey my wife and I had the opportunity to fly along side New York City in a Cessna 172 SP.

In looking for places to start this flight from I came across Lincoln Park Wings based at Lincoln Park Airport, a single strip runway in Northern New Jersey. Lincoln Park Wings offers a pre-planned scenic flight of the Hudson River in a Cessna 172 complete with a Glass Cockpit. I mentioned I was a private pilot and they ensured me I could fly the route with the Certified Flight Instructor.

Garmin 1000This flight would include many firsts for me. It would be my first flight in New Jersey or New York and be my first experience in a glass cockpit. According to Wikipedia a glass cockpit is "...an aircraft cockpit that features electronic instrument displays. Where a traditional cockpit relies on numerous mechanical gauges to display information, a glass cockpit utilizes a few computer-controlled displays that can be adjusted to display flight information as needed."

After spending all of my flight time flying with traditional gauges I expected to be overwhelmed by the glass cockpit displays. But, I found them easy to read and relatively intuitive. I can see how it would take 10-20 hours to master the use of the system but after a little over an hour I was starting to understand where I needed to look to find the relevant information. If you have access to a plane with a glass cockpit I would highly recommend checking it out. You can read more about flying a glass cockpit at CockpitMentor.

New York City FlightFlying in a crowded airspace such as surrounds New York the features of the Garmin 1000 came in handy. It gave a clear visual image of where the different airspaces were located and helped us to ensure we did not violate any of them. The system also tracks other aircraft and would announce if traffic were near which happened occasionally as there is a variety of helicopter traffic in New York. By looking at the device you could easily determine where the traffic was and then look outside the cockpit to find it and ensure you stayed out of each others path.

Many pilots have said that in their early flights in a glass cockpit that they have troubles maintaining their normal practice of conducting visual scans of the horizon for aircraft and get caught up looking at the digital screens. Luckily, having the beautiful scenery of the New York City Skyline ensured I would keep my eyes out of the cockpit.

Our flight took us over some beautiful neighborhoods of Jersey and then over the Hudson River just North of the George Washington Bridge. We flew about 800 feet over the river which put us even with many of the buildings in New York. I am familiar with New York but it is seeing New York from this vantage point that really helped me understand what an amazingly huge city it is. Central Park for instance is much larger than I had ever imagined. We had a great view of the Concorde and SR-71 that are on display with the USS Intrepid Aircraft Carrier Museum. After passing by the city for the first time we came up to a beautiful view the Statue of Liberty before making a 180° turn to go back up the Hudson.

New York CityDuring the flight I had an enjoyable conversation with the CFI, Michael, who is teaching in NJ over the summer between years at Embry Riddle. I always enjoy the conversations I have when I have an opportunity to fly with other pilots. After completing our scenic tour of New York I flew us back to Lincoln Park, playing with the glass cockpit on the way. As, I mentioned before Lincoln Park is a small airport with a runway that is less than 3,000 feet long and only 40 feet wide which leaves little room for error on landings. But, despite making my first landing in over a month we made a smooth landing to conclude a wonderful flight.

I highly recommend any pilot that has the opportunity to fly the Hudson River Corridor to do it, check out Lincoln Park Wings while you are at it. I put up a gallery of my photos from the flight on Flickr.


Posted at 5:23 PM | Post Category: Cessna 172 SP, Flight Time, G1000 | Comments (1) | Save & Share This Story