Plane & Pilot
Saturday, December 1, 2007

Buyer’s Guide: The Active Pilot’s Flight Bag

Consider one of these exciting new products

garmin gpsFlight bags have certainly changed over the years, but what has changed most is what today’s pilots consider “must have.” My first flight bag was a military flying suit with pockets everywhere, each stuffed with some necessity.
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Flight Planning

ARINC eFlyBook: As the system grows, so does the amount of paper, charts and documents needed to make the flight. All pilots recognize how difficult it is to keep this paperwork organized and ready, sometimes at a moment’s notice. Unfortunately, these papers are usually needed when stress in the cockpit is at its highest. There’s a solution: charts and documents can be inputted into the eFlybook and then retrieved when needed. The unit weighs only 13.7 ounces and has an 8.1-inch electronic display “page.” This allows pilots to store en route charts, terminal procedures, approach and departure plates and airport diagrams. Pilots can now update their charts via CD-ROM. Suggested Retail Price: $1,499. Contact: ARINC, (888) 406-7388,

Flight Guide: This little, brown airport-data book has been the pilot’s best friend for many years. Flight Guides are the nation’s leading VFR airport and frequency manuals. There are different editions available for the part of the country where you do your flying. Airguide Publishers are also online with the latest changes on up-to-date airport information. Now pilots using tablet PCs or IPACs can maintain their airport database with last-minute changes before any flight. Combining your Flight Guide with a GPS will certainly make your flight planning much faster, more accurate and far easier. Suggested Retail Price: $39 and up. Contact: Airguide Publications, (800) 359-3591,

WingX Premiere Edition: This full-featured preflight software runs on Pocket PC devices and is about the size of a pack of cigarettes. Among other things, the software provides DUATS weather breafing and flight-planning access; weight-and-balance calculations (for helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft); FAA airport and facilities directory; route planner with wind calculator; NACO approach plate viewer; airport diagrams with Safe Taxi warning; and weather data. An expiration feature allows you to keep track of your currency status, most recent BFR, charts, insurance and inspection status. Clever and time-saving features include a pop-up menu of predefined values. Suggested Retail Price: $129. Contact: Hilton Software, (866) 42-WINGX,

Personal Locator Beacon

ACR Electronics AeroFix 406: If you’re forced down in remote terrain, all you have to do is push a button on this new GPS-driven personal locator beacon, and it’ll turn a disaster into a found-and-saved situation. The unit will send out not only your coordinates, but also your personal identifier code through the SARSAT system. This alerts the SAR (search and rescue) that you need help immediately. Your location and ID are in the system within three short minutes. In 2006 alone, 272 people were located and saved by the SARSAT system. With its holster, this waterproof unit weighs only 12 ounces and is the size of a cell phone. Suggested Retail Price: $500. Contact: ACR Electronics Inc., (800) 432-0227,


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