NWS Releases Graphical Forecasts for Aviation

Yesterday, the National Weather Service released its latest product for aviation, the “Graphic Forecasts for Aviation.” Previously, the tool was only experimental, but it has now been upgraded to “operational status.”

The tool is a great way to visual current and future weather conditions. In this screenshot, I’m looking ahead a few hours to see the forecast for ceilings in my state:

Listen, there are a ton of great ways to get aviation weather. Apps like ForeFlight and WingX offer plenty of options, but I always end up back the NWS for real analysis.

It’s worth noting that flight service specialists won’t begin using the tool until at July, according to AOPA.

More to come from me on this, including a video tutorial on using the tool, but for now, check it out for yourself. It’s pretty simple to use.

Garmin Announces New Garmin Pilot Release

Lots of updates in this release for Garmin Pilot, the company’s entry into the electronic flight bag (EFB) space. I used to be a Garmin Pilot user on Android, but since moving to iOS, I haven’t kept up quite as much. It always worked fine.

Garmin increases device limits on Garmin Pilot subscriptions.

Additionally, Dave (Twitter friend) pointed out that Garmin seems to have increased the amount of devices allowed per account from two to three, allowing for two primary devices and one backup device.

According to Garmin’s blog post, new iOS features include:

  • Easily access winds aloft data from the radial menu for easy viewing at a glance.
  • Configurable radar color tables allow pilots to customize the color intensity of the radar returns based on preference.
  • Pilots can access and utilize the scratch pad in split-screen mode.

Garmin also beefed up their Android offering, including:

  • FastFind, which incorporates predictive logic to suggest airports and waypoints using current GPS location so entering flight plan information is faster and easier.
  • European Visual Reporting Points (VRPs), which can be overlaid on the moving map and be incorporated into a flight plan for easy navigation throughout Europe.

Are any readers out there Garmin Pilot users? If so, what do you like best? These seem like good updates.

Read all about the updates on Garmin’s blog post.

ForeFlight 9 Released

Yesterday, ForeFlight released version 9 of their popular EFB app. Lots of new stuff is packed into this release, but here are my favorites:

  1. Integrated Checklists – My airplane is simple, but I always use a checklist. ForeFlight 9 introduces a checklist feature that allows users to build out custom checklists for their aircraft. Watch this blog for a more in-depth review/how-to on this feature, or check out ForeFlight’s intro.
  2. Glide Advisor – I’m not sure anyone expected a feature like this, but it’s very nice. The Glide Advisor depicts your glide options in the event of an engine failure. It’s based on GPS data, terrain information and even winds aloft, with the right equipment.

Additional feature enhancements include logbook tweaks, Microsoft Office document support and an advanced feature allowing users to create customer overlays on maps.

For full release details, check out ForeFlight’s official release page.

Check Out This Small, Affordable ADS-B Receiver

If you haven’t checked out my post on building your own Stratux ADS-B receiver, you should do that. But if you’re like many people, the DIY route isn’t really the best option for whatever reason (time, comfort level, etc.). Here’s a new ADS-B option that’s worth a look.

It’s the pingBuddy 2 ADS-B receiver, and it should start shipping this month (March 2017). It’s the size of a USB stick and works much like any other simple receiver, giving pilots weather and traffic information.

In their own words:

Simply power pingBuddy 2, join the wireless network, launch your EFB software and enjoy subscription-free traffic and weather.

The receiver looks like it will work with most any electronic flight bag app, including the usual suspects such as ForeFlight, FlyQ and WingX. There’s actually a long list of supported apps, so I suspect whatever you’ve chosen will be just fine.

My Apple fascination aside, technology that works across a wide variety of apps is a good thing for the industry. And, it looks like this will be affordable, too.

EAA Releases Launches New Podcast

EAA has launched a new podcast for aviators titled “The Green Dot.” The title is a reference to the dots used at KOSH during the annual AirVenture event every July/August.

From the launch announcement:

The Green Dot features EAA news, general aviation topics, history, personal experiences from the hosts and a variety of guests, and anything fun, interesting, or cool in and around the world of flight.

With the explosion of podcast popularity in general, it can be hard to find content that’s well-produced and easy to listen to.

According to EAA’s description, this seems like it’ll be a good balance of stories and information. I’m hoping for more storytelling from an aviation podcast, so maybe this will deliver.

I’ll be listening to the entire podcast later today, but a quick sampling showed the quality is spot-on with this one.

Proposed Bill Would Ban 100LL Fuel in Oregon

Here’s an interesting development in the great state of Oregon. A new bill would ban the use of 100LL fuel in that state.

From the article on General Aviation News:

Oregon Senate Bill 115 and House Bill 2109 exist to “Prohibit selling, dispensing or using aviation fuel that contains lead or lead compounds after Jan. 1, 2022.”

Now, let’s be clear: It’s time to find an alternative to our current fuel situation. But this seems like a bill without much thought about the impact to the aviation industry in Oregon. And what about pilots who choose to fly in to their state?

The Importance of Vintage Aircraft

History is fascinating by itself, but make it aviation history and you have my full attention. It seems that most of society agrees, as it is often the case where a vintage car/plane/boat gathers all the attention at a particular event. We seem to be a people that yearns for the latest and greatest of everything, but (thankfully) generally takes time to honor a piece of history.

Continue reading

The DoubleEnder

I’ve watched a lot of aviation YouTube videos. Who hasn’t? The Backcountry Pilot channel is one you should bookmark, anyway, but this video featuring the “DoubleEnder” aircraft kept my attention until the end. Fantastic videography.

Zane Jacobson, writing for BackcountryPilot.com, shares details about the aircraft:

It is unlike anything the aviation world has seen, with its twin Rotax 914 push-pull engine configuration, its unobscured view over the pilot’s feet from the bubble canopy, its active STOL wing design using slats on the leading edge and enormous double-slotted flaps, and its super-beefy landing gear with 35″ bushwheels.

Definitely check out the video and the linked article.


Sedona’s Beautiful Airport

One of my long term goals is to fly southwest and explore. This trip report on General Aviation News is fantastic and has some great photos, too.

Sedona’s Runway 3/21 is perched on the edge of a 500-foot tall mesa, surrounded by iconic red rock peaks that glow bright orange from the rising sun. The approach can be a bit precarious with unpredictable up and down drafts, along with opposite direction arrivals and departures.

This write-up features great details about exploring the area, including must-see items. I’ve bookmarked this as a reference for possible future trips.

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ForeFlight Releases 8.3, Adds Epic Feature

A new release of ForeFlight has brought many new enhancements, but one caught my eye.

From the ForeFlight blog:

Checking the weather report at your destination airport is an important step in your landing checklist. Like a good co-pilot, ForeFlight anticipates your needs and automatically displays the weather frequency approximately 20 nautical miles from your destination airport.

This is an example of why I always end up using ForeFlight, despite trying other apps. These simple feature additions show how their team can identify a common pain point and include a simple solution that just works. I’m looking forward to using this very soon. (Update: I’ve flown several times since this original post and this feature is as good as I had hoped!)

Other notable features in ForeFlight 8.3 include color inversion for charts and documents, new logbook features and some additional XM weather enhancements.

The new version is available now in the App Store.