Mar 26 2013

Aviation W&B – App Review

Category: iPhone Apps,RamblingsDaniel @ 6:35 pm

Weight and Balance Results

I recently was able to check out the app “Aviation W&B” by Roy Kronenfeld (full disclosure, I received the app free to review).  This app functions as the name implies, it helps pilots determine the weight and balance implications for a given airplane and loading.  The app is a solidly developed piece of software, with a combined version that function in full resolution on both new iPhones and iPads (always welcome in my book).  No bugs and the app operates nice.  One main plus for this app is the comprehensive library online of various plane models that you can download for free.  This saves A LOT of data entry time inputting weights and arms for various planes.  I was quickly able to find the specs for a Cessna 172SP (my usual flight club plane of choice) as my base.  After inputting a tail number, empty weight and arm, I was on my way!  Slap in how much fuel and the weights of your passengers and baggage and it spits out the all the necessary envelope calculations and graphs.  It also provides a nice “summary” screen which can email as a PDF or save to your camera roll on the iOS device, which I thought was pretty cool.

Overall the app does it says, and does it well, but not much else.  The app costs $9.99 (at the time of this review), so I’ll leave it up to you whether it’s worth it.  In general, I’m surprised there aren’t more free calculators for W&B on the web, but certainly having this app in your pocket for instant access could be a benefit and justify the price.  You can check it out on the iTunes Store here – Aviation W&B Calculator or see the full website at

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Apr 09 2012

My Favorite Things – Flight Planning and Weather

Category: RamblingsDaniel @ 8:15 pm

It’s hard to believe, but it’s been over four years since I started flying (and started this blog). Along the way, I’ve been able to test out a lot of great websites, products, and applications. I figured I’d write down a list “my favorite things” that I frequently use while flying and/or to help me prepare to fly.

Prior to any flight, I almost ALWAYS use SkyVector to help me plan. It’s a 100% free website ( with up-to-date, high resolution scans of sectionals and area charts. It’s super easy to use and even has fairly decent flight planning capabilities. It’s very easy to map out different routes and see the mileage and necessary waypoints. Furthermore, almost every object on the map (Airports and NAV points especially), you can click and get very detailed information about. I know it says you aren’t supposed to use it for official navigation purposes, but I honestly haven’t purchased an official sectional since the printouts of these can look even better and you don’t need to figure out how to fold a huge map.

The AOPA flight planning tool (from is another useful flight planning tool. Its “maps” aren’t as great as SkyVector (I like the usual sectional maps from SkyVector more), but the AOPA tool can help me calculate winds and flight times since it has a robust database of planes and performance. It definitely helps with the math aspect….and it’s free for AOPA members.

In terms of weather, I use two websites and one iOS app to help me plan. To help me plan my future scheduling, I’m usually using Weather Underground to keep a general eye on what I think the weather will be on the day(s) I want to fly. It can get VERY detailed and tends to have real observation data from all the airports/areas I would want to fly. A few hours before my flight, I then use DUAT to get me an official briefing and route-specific weather. Plus, that will give me the OFFICIAL information I need regarding TFRs and NOTAMs and such. If there’s any doubt in my mind that it won’t be a beautiful day to fly, I’ll actually CALL for a briefing, but since I’m always flying VFR on generally pretty days, DUAT works for me.

On the way to the airport, I start using the AeroWeather Pro app on my iPhone/iPad. It pulls all the current METAR observations and terminal area forecasts (TAFs) and translates it into normal English – no decoding required (unless you like reading the code, you can choose which you prefer). The other great thing about this app (there’s a free ad-supported version or for $3.99 (as of April 9, 2012) you get the PRO version (which I use)), is that it uses your device GPS to pull the nearest stations. VERY useful when checking weather en-route or at my destination prior to flying back.  You can read my full review of this great app I did a while back, if you want further details.

Well, that completes what I usually do PRIOR to actually getting to the airport and flying. What does everybody like to use? Next post I’ll cover what I use AT the airport, during flight, and beyond.

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Apr 01 2012

AnywhereMap for iPad and Android, FINALLY!

Category: RamblingsDaniel @ 10:31 am

Just a few short years ago (pre iPhone and iPad days), the handheld General Aviation GPS unit market was booming.  It was RIGHT when I was earning my private pilot’s license and I was DYING to have one.  I remember seeing ads for Control Vision’s AnywhereMap software and system, it looked like the coolest thing ever, and a heck of a lot cheaper than Garmin units.  Of course, I still couldn’t drop about $795 (I think that’s what it cost back in the day) to support my occasional flying.  Well, maybe that situation has now changed!  Control Vision has released iOS and Android versions of their AnywhereMap moving map software package, and it’s under $100!  (Actually, it’s $79.95 at the time of this post, April 1st, 2012).  Granted, I’m very happy with my sub-$20 SkyCharts Pro app still, but I’m seriously considering plunking down a few bucks for this one.  If anyone has used this package, what do you think?  If you want to check it out yourself, here’s a link to the iTunes store!

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Mar 09 2010

Live ATC Radio App – Dan’s Review

Category: iPhone Apps,RamblingsDaniel @ 3:17 am

Live ATC Air Radio
Released Feb 01, 2010
Seller:  Dave Pascoe
(C) 2009
Price (as of 03/08/2010):  $2.99
Rated 4+ as of 03/08/2010 on iTunes Store

Many of us general aviation pilots have probably checked out the website, where you can listen to live air traffic control (ATC) radio frequencies from around the country.  It’s a free service that is great background noise if you are bored at home or around the office.  It’s also great to listen to radio communications for training purposes, especially for us pilots that don’t fly out of a towered airport (like me). recently released an iPhone version of their service.  It’s a great little app that essentially performs the same function as the website.  It’s $2.99, which certainly isn’t the cheapest app out there, but it does work like a charm and compared to most aviation apps out there, three bucks isn’t that much for a decent training aid.  Furthermore, it’s nice to have this audio at the palm of my hand, or more fittingly, able to be docked in my new iPhone clock-radio in my bedroom.  Again, it makes for nice background audio as I’m preparing for bed or getting up in the morning.

In terms of actually reviewing the app, it performs as advertised.  You can select your favorite airports/towers for quick access.  The buffering is just as quick as on the regular website, both through Wi-Fi and even 3G.  I’ve even listened to it in my car on the road with great success, although streaming audio through 3G does chew up iPhone battery life fairly quickly.  The newest version even supports background listening, so you could listen to it while working in other apps on the iPhone.  I’d recommend this app as I do thoroughly enjoy it (and I was not compensated for this review).

Check out the Live ATC Air Radio app on the iTunes Store here!

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Dec 17 2009

AeroWeather App – Dan’s Review

Category: iPhone Apps,RamblingsDaniel @ 5:37 am

Released Dec 02, 2009
Seller:  Pascal Dreer
(C) 2008 Pascal Dreer
Price (as of 12/17/2009):  FREE!
Rated 3.5 as of 12/17/2009 on iTunes Store

In my opinion, the AeroWeather free app is a powerful and must-have application for all pilots.  It’s simplicity is what makes it so great.  You just set your favorite airports and it pulls the current weather conditions (METARs) and forecasts (TAFs).  You can choose airport weather stations from the built-in database by either name or ICAO code.  The great thing for us pilots who don’t read METARs and TAFs every day is that the data can be shown in its original format or fully decoded into plain English.  I find this particularly useful in that it converts the Zulu time found in TAF’s into local time (a huge brain-power saver).  AeroWeather also puts a nice green/yellow/red icon next to each weather station to indicate whether the weather is at VFR/IFR minimums, another simple way to know if your flight is actually going to happen.

AeroWeather_Screencap_1AeroWeather_Screencap_2Sorry my review isn’t much longer, but that about covers everything this great little app does.  I would highly recommend this for ALL pilots, but especially general aviation pilots.  Check out AeroWeather on the iTunes Store here!

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Oct 20 2009

SkyCharts App – Dan’s Review

Category: Aviation GPS,iPhone Apps,RamblingsDaniel @ 6:20 am

Released Oct 18, 2009
Seller:  Heikki Julkunen
(C) 2008-2009 Heikki Julkunen
Price (as of 10/20/2009):  $9.99
Rated 4+ as of 10/20/2009 on iTunes Store

Most general aviation pilots know how expensive true aviation-grade portable GPS systems can be.  Garmin and Lowerance systems cost upwards of $2,000 for a decent one, even the seemingly awesome Bendix-King AV8OR costs around $700+.  In my mind, those are ridiculous prices for the amount of functionality those devices provide.  After experimenting with my Mio Personal Navigation Device for aviation use with some success, I was hopeful to find something just as useful on my iPhone.  I’m very happy and excited to report about the SkyCharts app…truly a great little gem on the iPhone!


Granted, it’s no fully integrated electronic flight bag (EFB), but it does exactly what it claims to do…  it puts your GPS position directly on top of the paper sectionals/charts you’ve grown to know and love.  The first versions of the app did ONLY that, but the latest version added some flight planning capabilities as well.

One VERY important feature of this app is that you can cache the various charts to use while you don’t have a data/cellular signal.  In other words, you can use this while flying (even though you aren’t supposed to – like any app).  Furthermore, it now has a database of all U.S. airports, nav points, and fixes – all of which can be selected and routed direct-to.  For each airport, it also will cache and display approach plates and airport diagrams.  Overall, very useful stuff!  The flight-planning is currently only 1 point direct-to lines, but future versions may include multiple waypoints.  The development of this app has been moving quickly, so I wouldn’t be surprised if those features are included in the near future.

Overall, for $10 ($9.99 technically), it’s WELL worth the cost!  I’ve used this MANY times in the air already, and think it’s a superb app.  I HIGHLY recommend it!  Check it out on iTunes here!

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Oct 03 2009

AirCheck Aviation Checklist – Dan’s Review

Category: iPhone Apps,RamblingsDaniel @ 1:45 pm

AirCheck Aviation Checklist
Released Jan 3, 2009
Seller:  Felix Khazin
(C) 2009 Mobile Dev Group LLC
Price (as of 10/03/2009):  $1.99
Rated 4+ as of 10/02/2009 on iTunes Store

Night modeIf you’ve been reading my blog, you know that I rent planes from the flying club I’m a member of.  All of the club’s planes are older than 2001, some as old as 1982!

As such, the checklists and POH’s are rather tattered and delicate.  One of the first apps I thought would work great for my new iPhone was an aviation checklist application.  After trying out all of the free checklist apps, I was severely disappointed.  Most were crippled in that they only showed a sample of what it could do, or it wasn’t easy to edit/add items to check, and they all started out blank or for planes I would never fly in. - The online editor for the checklists

I decided to “splurge” on the $1.99 AirCheck Aviation Checklist app from Felix Khazin and was delightfully surprised.  The main feature that I thought was great was that you could edit and download other checklists on the web, not solely on your iPhone.  I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t want to type out 100 items directly on the iPhone.  From the site, you can also download the checklists that other people have created, and guess what… all the plane types that my club owns were already input…so, set up was a cinch!  The app itself is pretty simple and straightforward.  You can tap on the screen or shake the iPhone to “check off” an item.  That’s a great feature to not have to use both hands – so ultimately it’s as simple as using the POH checklist.  It also has both night and day display modes, to not kill your night-vision if it’s dark out.  The text is perfectly sized and again, you can make the checklist as detailed or simple as you’d like.  I’ve kept all my checklists 100% matched to the checklists in the planes I fly.  Overall, this app is the best aviation checklist I’ve come across, and for $1.99 you can’t beat it!

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Sep 27 2009

iPhones and General Aviation

Category: Aviation GPS,RamblingsDaniel @ 5:08 pm


Well, I finally splurged and made the leap to an iPhone….and boy, do I LOVE it!  I’m a techie, and I could write 50 blog posts just about the iPhone in general, but I’ll try to make the next few posts focused on the general aviation uses and aspects of the iPhone.  Firstly, I would highly recommend checking out a fellow aviation blogger who started a website dedicated to listing out all the aviation-related iPhone apps –  If you go there, you’ll notice there are a TON of free apps related to aviation.  Some weight & balance calculators, E6B’s, electronic checklists, POH’s, airport finder, and even some navigation / sectional apps!  Here’s what I’m using so far, and direct links to download them in iTunes Application store:

I’ll do a review on each of these apps in the near future.  As you can see, 3 of the 5 that I use a lot are 100% free – and those are just the apps I’ve KEPT after testing out probably 40 or so other free aviation apps.   If anyone is on the fence about getting an iPhone, I will say that just the potential aviation uses can help justify the buy (in additonal to the TON of other great uses).  Of course, with my Mio C320 portable GPS device, I’ve got double GPS backup sources and I feel pretty confident going on longer and longer trips now!  Hopefully I’ll be up in the sky again soon!

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