Sunday, February 1, 2004
Buyer's Guide: Gotta-Have-It Cockpit Gear
A few pieces of equipment make cross-country flying easier and more relaxing. Here are suggestions on what to bring to make far-reaching flights pass in a flash.
1 Stop asking “Where are we?”
Believe it or not, there are still lots of pilots out there who are flying without a GPS. There are many portables, such as the Airmap 500, Garmin 196 and 295 and the Skymap IIIC, that will not only make flight navigation easier, but also help you find a friend’s house, a favorite restaurant or the best fishing spots around town.
Prices: $500 and up
Resources: Airmap 500, (800) 324-1356, www.lowrance.com; Garmin 196 and 295, (800) 800-1020, www.garmin.com; Skymap IIIC, (877) 712-2386, www.bendixking.com
2 Smarter than GPS.
In addition to the moving-map GPS functions, the WAAS-enabled Flight Cheetah FL250 is smarter than your average bear. Live NEXRAD weather images, obstacle information, approach overlays, digital charts and e-mail capabilities make it unique.
Price: $5,295, including datalinking
Resource: Flight Cheetah FL250, (888) 948-9657, www.echoflight.com
3 Keep talking!
There’s really no excuse for you to not have a handheld radio. Not only is it a must in case you have a radio malfunction, it’s also great for eavesdropping on the ground. Features from models such as Sporty’s SP-200, Icom IC-A23 and Vertex Standard VXA-700 vary, including navigation and FM radio.
Price: $300 and up
Resource: Sporty’s SP-200, (800) SPORTYS, www.sportys.com; Icom IC-A23, (425) 454-7619, www.icomamerica.com; Vertex Standard VXA-700, (714) 827-7600, www.vertexstandard.com
4 Portable traffic report.
The TrafficScope from Surecheck displays traffic information digitally and an audio alert will sound when an aircraft poses a threat. The pilot can select the target range for the audio signal.
Resource: TrafficScope, (800) 854-1001, www.kingcatalog.com
5 Are we there yet?
Measure distances in miles or kilometers with the Electronic Map Measure And Emergency Tool on any type of map by simply rolling a wheel. This keychain tool also includes a clock, timer, calculator, compass, thermometer and flashlight.
Resource: Electronic Map Measure And Emergency Tool, (800) SPORTYS, www.sportys.com
6 Portable ground transportation.
Cruise around your destination at speeds of up to 20 mph on the lightweight, electrically powered GoPed Sport Scooter. At only 20 pounds, it won’t hamper the useful load, and the foldable design makes it easy to stow in spaces as small as 2.5 cubic feet.
There’s also the HUMMER Tactical Mountain Bike, which can be used for anything, from cruising around town to hardcore mountain-biking. One quick-release lever collapses the bike in less than 30 seconds into a 3x3x1-foot pack that easily fits into any airplane.
Price: GoPed Sport Scooter, $395; HUMMER Tactical Mountain Bike, $699.95
Resource: GoPed Sport Scooter, (877) 4-SPRUCE, www.aircraftspruce.com; HUMMER Tactical Mountain Bike, (800) 653-1375, www.hummerstuff.com
7 If it’s broke, fix it.
The Educated Owner’s “Fly-Away” Tool Kit was developed especially for aviators and includes everything you need for emergency maintenance, such as safety-wire twisters, an aircraft spark-plug socket, a ratchet driver, vise grips, a screwdriver, a hex-wrench set and a flashlight, just to name a few.
And, if you’re looking for a pocket-sized tool, the Multi-Plier 700 Urban Legend from Gerber Tools includes all the necessities for small jobs, such as needle-nose pliers, a carbide cutter, a knife blade, scissors, several screwdrivers, a lanyard, a bottle opener and tweezers.
Price: Educated Owner’s “Fly-Away” Tool Kit, $119.95; Multi-Plier 700 Urban Legend, $83.20
Resource: Educated Owner’s “Fly-Away” Tool Kit, (877) 564-4457, www.approachaviation.com; Multi-Plier 700 Urban Legend, (800) 950-6161, www.gerbertools.com
8 Get the picture.
Who’s going to believe you actually flew cross-country if you don’t have the pictures? Minolta’s DiMAGE Xt is truly a “shirt pocket” camera, measuring only 3.4x2.6x0.8-inches and weighing a mere 4.2 ounces. Despite its small size, the DiMAGE Xt is equipped with 3.2 megapixels, houses a 12X zoom lens and features a lightning-fast 1.1-second startup time.
Resource: Minolta DiMAGE Xt, (800) 843-2489, www.circuitcity.com
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