With its touch-screen interface and loads of new features, the AV8OR Ace is a winner
We’ve reached the point in aviation GPS technology where we’re no longer comparing “bad” units to “good” ones. Instead, we examine a unit’s overall look and feel (i.e., its quirks, nuances and exclusive features) to see if it fits our specific needs—the quality of the unit is a given.
Ten years ago, I started off on my first really long cross-country trip: a two-week flying vacation from my home base in Modesto, Calif., to Parkersburg, W.V. I literally started out with a suitcase full of charts, including approach plates for the entire route.
For all their dazzling screen displays and computational wizardry, glass cockpits can be complex to learn and challenging to operate. Avidyne, which introduced the glass cockpit to general aviation in 2003, aims to change all that with its Entegra Release 9 Integrated Flight Deck, which is now nearing FAA certification.
Headsets are funny things. Even though there are scores of them on the market and their job is essentially the same, each headset has its own “personality” and unique feel. Among professional headsets, I’ve found that the “right” one is different for each individual wearer and is a matter of personal preference. It was with that fact in mind that I opened the package containing the brand-new Peltor ANR 9500 digital headset.
By now, almost every pilot has had some experience with a portable GPS unit, and the AV8OR does everything that you’ve come to expect from these devices, and more. Bendix/King’s new MFD integrates GPS, navigation database, graphical terrain and XM weather into a single portable device. The affordable unit’s list price is $799, and the XM WxWorx weather receiver add-on is available for an additional $523 (though, through the end of 2009, the AV8OR includes a $200 rebate coupon for the receiver). The AV8OR has a beautiful, bright 4.3-inch diagonal display with 480×272-pixel resolution. The touch-screen interface is easy to use and provides excellent tap and double-tap access to information.
For most pilots, aviation headsets are a necessary evil. They protect your hearing from long-term damage due to engine noise and make it easier to hear passengers, other pilots and ATC on the radio. But most do so by clamping down hard over your ears to block out sound; if worn for more than a few hours, they can give you a headache. I started with the generic passive headsets sold at my flight school, and when I started making long cross-country flights (up to 10 hours in a day), I upgraded to somewhat lighter and more comfortable automatic noise reduction (ANR) models. With those, the clamping pressure is less, the background noise is cut down, and it takes longer for me to get a headache—but I still get it.
My first exposure to the Spot Satellite Messenger came on a rainy March afternoon when air show pilot Gene Soucy arrived at the NAS Meridian Air Show in Meridian, Miss., where we were both performing. Gene got out of his Showcat biplane, shook my hand and said, “hello,” then pulled a little orange device out of his pocket and hit a button. He explained that he had just checked in with his coperformer, Theresa Stokes, by sending her a message that he had arrived safely. I asked the obvious question, and he said, “It’s a Spot, man, you need to get a Spot.”