Volunteer flying’s hidden benefit is…

IMG_5401 I’m a huge believer in volunteer flying opportunities like the Civil Air Patrol, AngelFlight, PilotsNPaws, and the EAA Young Eagles programs.  Less than 1% of Americans have ever had the privilege of being a pilot.  Although we certainly worked hard, sacrificed and paid for the right to fly an airplane, I think we owe something back.  There are a lot of volunteer flying benefits including helping others, introducing new people to the beauty of flying and, even making flying more affordable through tax deductions and reimbursed expenses, in some cases.  The biggest benefit is to you as the pilot is it actually makes you safer!  Not just a little bit either but a significant connection exists between pilots who volunteer and reducing general aviation accidents.

Why are pilots who volunteer so much safer?  Organizations like the Civil Air Patrol provide and encourage training, but not all volunteer organizations do.  EAA Young Eagles pilots may attend regular meetings and safety presentations, but are not required to.  Pilots who don’t volunteer are more dangerous for the same reason my Spanish is so bad.  What?  No you didn’t miss anything and it really is that simple.  My Spanish, after 6 years of schooling, is horrible because I don’t use it.  General Aviation skills degrade just as quickly as any other skill if you don’t use them.  Pilots who don’t fly on a regular basis get rusty, make more mistakes and, have more accidents.  Want to be safer?  It’s pretty simple, all you have to do is fly more.  That’s why volunteer flying is so important to keeping you safe.

Transport programs like AngelFlight and PilotsNPaws force you to plan new cross country trips, do different weight and balance computations, and fly in new environments.  The EAA Young Eagles program makes you better with repeated takeoff and landings, multitasking, and more.

You need to fly more often to be safer.  You need to give back and help grow general aviation.  How will you volunteer and fly more often this year?  I hope I can help by giving you this personal challenge.  I’m dedicated to providing more than 100 Young Eagles flights in 2016.  Who wants to match or beat my goal?  Share your promise of how you will volunteer in the comments and forward this article to every pilot you know.  Together we can change the world and make flying safer for everyone.

ps Yo soy es el super piloto, si?

About the author:

Gary D Reeves, ATP, Master CFI, CFII,MEI has been teaching for over ten years and has over 6000 hours including turbojet and turboprop experience. He is the 2016 FAA Instructor of the Year for the SW Region(CA, AZ, NV, HI).  As a national expert in IFR Training, Garmin Avionics, iPad use, Mountain Flying and aviation safety he is a lead rep for the FAA Safety team and founded the volunteer group PilotSafety.org   If you have any questions, comments or suggestions please visit www.PilotSafety.org , www.MasterFlightTraining.com or contact him directly at GaryR@pilotsafety.org.

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Flying with iPads just got COOLER!

I’m a huge believer in using iPads in the cockpit because it makes flying safer.  Anytime a trained pilot uses technology well everything just gets better.  The obvious dangers of using technology without proper training have been discussed before.  What I want to tell you about today is the mechanical problems that iPads have.  There are three basic problems that can happen with an iPad in flight and all three are now easily fixed.  Dead batteries, loss of GPS signal, and the dreaded overheat have plagued pilots since the beginning.

A dead battery on your iPad is guaranteed to happen while either flying in between two restricted airspaces or right before getting to your initial approach fix while flying IFR.  This is pretty easy to prevent.  Make sure you’re iPad is fully charged and carry a backup battery.  The battery we recommend is the Anker Astro on Amazon which is small but powerful enough to charge both an iPhone and an external GPS at the same time.  Of course if you can you should also carry a power outlet supply that can safely handle different voltages without burning out your tablet, like the MyGoFlight dual charger.

The 2nd easy to fix problem is losing your positional fix when relying on the “built in A-GPS” that comes with iPhones and iPads with cellular data capability.  It is a real GPS but, relies on initial contact with cellular towers before reporting a position.  If you lose connection in flight or fly above 8,000 feet you may lose the biggest benefit of using iPads, situational awareness.  Both the BadElf and Dual GPS will give you a reliable external GPS signal.  ADS-B weather and part-time traffic is available with devices like the Stratus from Sportys.com.

The last problem has always been overheating.  iPads are built well but, do not have built-in cooling and no computer does well in a closed glass bubble exposed to direct sunlight.  This has been a even bigger issue for the greenhouse pilots, those who who fly “bubble” planes like the Diamond Star or Cirrus.  It’s pretty hard to keep an iPad cool when there is no shady place to put it.  That’s why I’m so excited about the new cooling case from X-Naut.  Designed by a private pilot who flies in sunny Southern California, the X-Naut has taken over a year to develop and is available now!

I was asked to try one and I want to tell you it works.  I flew over an hour with my iPad mini placed on the glare shield in direct sunlight on an 80 degree day. (Not the recommended way to fly trust me…)  The iPad at full brightness, running ForeFlight®, FlyQ®, and CloudAhoy®, while connected to a Stratus® ran perfectly.  The case was lightweight and can be connected to a knee board or any convenient RAM mount system.  It has built in cooling fans powered by AA batteries or your external USB power source(see above).  It’s available for both the iPad Air and the iPad mini and includes a battery status light so you can quickly check the on board batteries.  For anyone who has an iPad overheat in flight they will appreciate how important this is.  I only have one complaint about the X-Naut system,  I think they want their prototype back.  I’m just hoping they can’t find me if I keep moving so please let me know ASAP if anyone needs some personal training out of state!  Get yours now at https://x-naut.com/Screen Shot 2016-07-17 at 4.59.30 PM

Have you ever had a battery failure, loss of GPS signal or, iPad overheating issue when flying?  Let me know the details in your comments and please share this article with others.

About the author:

Gary D Reeves, ATP, Master CFI, CFII,MEI has been teaching for over ten years and has over 6000 hours including turbojet and turboprop experience. He is the 2016 FAA Instructor of the Year for the SW Region(CA, AZ, NV, HI).  As a national expert in IFR Training, Garmin Avionics, iPad use, Mountain Flying and aviation safety he is a lead rep for the FAA Safety team and founded the volunteer group PilotSafety.org   If you have any questions, comments or suggestions please visit www.PilotSafety.org , www.MasterFlightTraining.com or contact him directly at GaryR@pilotsafety.org.