learning to fly in a cessna

Achieving the goal of a Private Pilots Licence

learning to fly in a cessna
We rarely needed cockpit shades in Hampshire

Learning to fly didn’t come easily to me. I was not a quick learner and took more than the average amount of hours to reach each milestone. I consoled myself with the thought that people who take longer to learn things learn them more deeply.

I wasn’t particularly confident either. Many were the times that I enjoyed the guilty relief when the cloud base was too low or the visibility too poor for my next lesson. Sometimes it felt like being told you’d got an unexpected day of school, which in effect it was.

When I was in the air there were times when I sat, tense and nervous, wondering what I was going to do wrong next and how could I keep control long enough to avoid some kind of disaster or the shame of screwing things up in front of instructors and spectators.

solo navigation flight
It was a rare day that it was CAVOK

Money was always tight too. Lessons were delayed because I ran out of cash so progress was delayed while I earned more or found some way to borrow enough to continue.

The lack of continuity made learning to fly a longer process than it needed to be. It took seven long years, not seven weeks, or even seven months.

And having finally taken delivery of my Private Pilots Licence from the CAA in 1991 I asked myself, “Was it all worth it? Was it all worth the sleepless nights, money worries, nerves, and anxiety?”

This was not my car. I had an Austin Allegro – far worse

The answer is of course yes, it was all worth it. Nothing can take away the feeling after the first solo, or the times I drove away from the airfield in my beaten up old car (or one I’d borrowed for the day) feeling ten foot tall, with a big stupid grin on my face because I’d just returned from a solo flight, there and back, with map and stopwatch.

Practice would have made perfect. For a number of reasons I didn’t get the chance to fill my logbook with PIC entries, building on these foundations. Repetition nurtures confidence and develops skills. I wanted to be the kind of pilot you see side-slipping an aircraft in to drop the wheels gently down on the numbers having flown a relaxed flight over hundreds of miles.

Truck driving
Trucking didn’t pay for many flying lessons

Driving a car eventually became effortless, and I made some progress driving lorries but there weren’t enough opportunities to practice reversing 40′ trailers onto loading bays to get it down to a fine art.

Navigation for truckers in the 1980s wasn’t easy either, without the ubiquitous apps and satnavs of today. If your map book didn’t pinpoint your destination you had to muddle through with frequent stops to ask for directions, which wasn’t convenient for the drivers in the queue that had built up behind you.

People who fly a lot or fly for a living become such experts, possessing skills that I have no chance of mastering myself, but goals such as this are personal and relative. Once that licence has your name on it nothing can take away the achievement and what it means to you personally.

I passed the exams, I passed the navigation test, and I passed the general flight test (GFT, as it was then known). If I never fly solo again at least I know I climbed one mountain and was rewarded with the view on the summit.

Ten Apps For Pilots For General Aviation

Ten Apps For Pilots For General Aviation

In this post I’m going to list ten apps for pilots. I say list rather than review since I have not downloaded these and tried each one.

The best and obvious way to determine if an app suits your need is to download the free trial and see for yourself.

You’ll find links to iTunes downloads (for iPad) for each of these apps in the description area below this video.

If there’s particular app that’s not on this list but which you think most pilots should know about, please post a comment about it.

So chocks away then.

Developer’s description: “RunwayHD is the one-stop aviation app available on iOS and Android devices created to give aviators everything they need for safe and fun flying.

Designed for VFR flying, RunwayHD is the complete planning, navigation and awareness app for novice and professional pilots alike flying anything from microlight flexwings to gliders and rotary aircraft.”

RunwayHD is free with in-app purchases. When checked on iTunes it had an average rating of 4.7 out of 168 ratings.

Developer’s description: “LogTen Pro is the leading international pilot logbook platform for all your Apple devices. It is the tool of choice for pilots in nearly 200 countries, and every major airline. From glider pilots to Gulfstream pilots, and from Apache pilots to airline pilots, whether you’ve got 10 hours or 10,000, LogTen Pro is designed to be completely customizable for your type of flying, country, region, or company so you can track exactly what you need.”

LogTen Pro is free with in-app purchases. When checked on iTunes it had an average rating of 4.5 out of 3,600 ratings.

Developer’s description: “Powerful, simple and fast flight plan filing for those who live on the go.

Manage flight plans from anywhere, with any device. Operate 24 hours a day, flying anywhere in the world – simply File & Go.

RocketRoute has built its reputation in Flight Plan Filing and Management.

Our service puts the pilot and dispatcher in complete control of their flight.

RocketRoute is ahead of the rest for simplicity, completeness of features and operational experience over the past 7 years.”

FlightPlan is free with in-app purchases. When checked on iTunes it had an average rating of 5 out of 5 ratings.

Developer’s description: “The flight planning features in SkyDemon are all designed to make planning a flight less tedious and more interesting, by bringing the very best aeronautical briefing information directly to your fingertips in real time as you explore our charts and experiment with potential journeys.

SkyDemon will help give you the confidence to fly further and to more interesting places. Plan a journey, brief yourself on potential hazards, prepare for flight and analyse your track logs. Live briefing data includes NOTAM, airfield documents and maps, TAF, METAR and wind forecasts at altitude.”

SkyDemon is free with in-app purchases. When checked on iTunes it had an average rating of 4.9 out of 3,700 ratings.

Developer’s description: “PocketFMS developed EasyVFR basic UK edition specifically to help pilots flying in the UK to avoid unintended entry into airspace or NOTAMed airspace. EasyVFR basic UK edition is free to download and use. Airspace is updated every 28 days and these updates are also totally free. NOTAMs are provided by a live link to EuroControl, ensuring that you have the latest NOTAMs to hand. All NOTAM updates are of course also free.

EasyVFR basic UK edition will show your position on the moving map so that you can see your position relative the airspace around you. You will get a warning as you approach an airspace which highlights the airspace boundary that you are approaching and provides you the appropriate call sign and frequency to contact in order to get a clearance to enter.

A position tab will give you your current position in a format that makes reporting your position to ATC easy, as well as giving you the frequency and call sign for the most relevant air traffic unit in your area, including a LARS if one is available.”

EasyVFR basic UK edition is free. When checked on iTunes it had an average rating of 4.8 out of 268 ratings.

  1. EasyVFR by PocketFMS Foundation.

Developer’s description: “EasyVFR is an aviation Moving Map which can be used for flight planning, GPS navigation and post-flight analysis on iOS devices (minimum iPhone 6 and/or iPad Air). With EasyVFR you can take your iPhone and iPad with you in the cockpit, plan your flight, and follow your route on a moving map, always confident of your position and the airspace and airports around you.

EasyVFR is NOT free. It requires an in-app subscription to function. The subscription provides updated AeroData for Europe, USA, Canada & Australia / New Zealand, published in line with the 28 day AIRAC cycle. It includes a continuous feed of EuroControl NOTAMs, and weather data from official sources in the supported regions and from our contracted professionals.”

When checked on iTunes it had an average rating of 4.7 out of 21 ratings.

Developer’s description: “AeroWeather Lite provides quick and intuitive access to METAR and TAF for airports worldwide.

Data can be shown in its original (raw) format or as fully decoded and easy understandable texts.

AeroWeather Lite is helpful for weather preflight-briefings, but also to just get very precise weather. All weather data is cached for offline access.

There are many settings for units and format of METAR/TAF available.

The app features a built-in airport database, which includes basic airport data like sunrise/sunset, twilight times, timezones etc”

AeroWeather Lite is free with in-app purchases. When checked on iTunes it had an average rating of 2.7 out of 41 ratings.

Developer’s description: “The ultimate weather app for pilots, by pilots. This visually stunning and feature rich application provides you with all the weather information you will need when you prepare for your next flight.

METARs and TAFs with a twist. Sure you can get TAFs and METARs everywhere, but you’d be hard pressed to find a map based overview that provides you instant insight in how the weather will develop over time, just by moving a slider. In addition to raw text, Sky MET provides you with:

  • TAF and METAR decoding.
  • Crosswind component calculation.
  • Weather radar for each station.
  • Station NOTAMS.
  • And web cam images, allowing for sneek peek at the station sky”.

Sky MET (free) has an optional upgrade to Pro. When checked on iTunes it had an average rating of 4.1 out of 17 ratings.

Developer’s description: “With more than 75 aviation calculations, unit conversions and aviation weather reports, we are sure you will find myE6B beneficial in helping to solve the planning and navigating problems associated with flying.

In addition to a comprehensive set of flight planning calculations, myE6B includes convenient access to global METAR, TAF, AIR/SIGMET and PIREP reports, and a handy search utility for finding unknown ICAO weather station codes.”

E6B Aviation Calculator costs £8.99. When checked on iTunes it had an average rating of 4.9 out of 8 ratings.

Developer’s description: “Aircraft Checklists from Qref® for iPhone and iPad are expertly designed and written procedures specifically for your aircraft.

The same award-winning content found in our printed checklists can now be found in a customizable, easy-access app.

Every detail has been meticulously designed to make the checklist quick, easy-to-use and accurate.

Choose your aircraft from a growing library of 50+ comprehensive models.

Customize any item you need, directly on your iPhone or iPad, right where you use a checklist, without having to go to a website and upload.”

Qref Aircraft Checklists is free with in-app purchases. When checked on iTunes it had an average rating of 3.4 out of 5 ratings.

That concludes this list of apps for pilots. Have you used any of these? What do you think of them?

Let me know by posting a comment below.

If you know of any apps that do a better job of the tasks described above then let me know.

Remember that apps are there to help and they can be an excellent source of information for flight planning and navigation but when flying your eyes and attention should be outside the cockpit not fixed on a screen.

Happy Landings!