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Flying with the iPad

In the last two and a half years since the iPad was released, it has taken the aviation world by storm. It is in use in the biggest airliners, down to the smallest light sport aircraft. It truly is an amazing tool, but it is only as good as the person operating it. To make the most of the iPad, you must first fully understand how to utilize it in the cockpit. A big part of this is understanding the apps. There has been much debate about which app is the best overall. The big three right now are ForeFlight, WingX Pro, and Garmin Pilot.

Each of these three apps has its strong points, some things it could do better, and a ton of shared similarities. They each have all the sectionals and charts you could ever want, a way to check weather, and a way to plan a flight. I have used all three of them to some extent, and in the end I feel it boils down mostly to personal preference. I am the most familiar with WingX Pro because that is the one I have used the most. Almost all of the other pilots around here like ForeFlight. The good news is that you can try each app for free for 30 days so you can find the one you like.

—The ForeFlight‘s strengths lie in preflight planning, viewing documents, and in ease of updating.

—The WingX Pro‘s strengths lie in advanced navigation features like track up on sectionals and even synthetic vision. A big plus for me is that it has a built in E6-B.

—The Garmin Pilot‘s strengths lie in the basics of ease of app navigation and presentation of info in flight.

The iPad yearly price for the apps can also weigh into the mix. Each app has a basic package that covers all the charts and approach plates and an advanced package that has geo-referenced approach plates so you can see  your exact location on the approach plate. WingX pro also sells the synthetic vision package and an option to download current fuel prices.

This is just a basic overview of the three apps. For a more detailed review, check out ipadpilotnews.com. You can also sign up there for a monthly email with all the news about iPad’s in aviation.

So, whichever app you use, the key is to know how to safely use it in flight, to get the most out of it, without it being a distraction. Our primary responsibility, even with all kinds of cool technology at our fingertips, is still to fly the airplane. And as to which app is the best, we may just have to agree to disagree.