The pleasure — and pain — of electronics

Frustration: A deep chronic sense or state of insecurity and dissatisfaction arising from unresolved problems or unfulfilled needs. Boy, does that describe my state of being for the last two days!

What should have been a fulfilling episode in my life has turned into a frustrating nightmare. I should have known that “plug and play” is just a ploy to entice the unwary or, in my case, the gullible.

My life is a paradox. I live on a farm. I own several antique-classic airplanes. I drive an old truck. I live in a house that was built to look old and timeworn. I don’t wear make-up. The list goes on and would lead one to believe that I am just an old-fashioned gal who prefers to live a simple life surrounded by possessions that have been seasoned.


Actually, that is an accurate accounting of my life except that this old-fashioned gal loves her electronic devices. In fact, I never leave home without them. I find comfort in knowing they are close at hand and that whenever the notion strikes to post on Facebook, shop at Eddie Bauer or Aircraft Spruce, I can.

We have two desktop computers upstairs in the computer/guest bedroom. Like our airplanes, they are his and hers. Hers is a little more modern with a more up-to-date operating system. I do serious household stuff like banking or picture management (stuff the Old Man doesn’t even want to know about).

His is an older operating system. It functions just fine for email and looking up ADs or service bulletins or for browsing the online tool catalogs. He prefers that change come gradually or not at all.

However, when the Old Man retired, we bought him a tool (a.k.a. electronic device) that he fell in love with almost immediately, a first generation iPad. He loves to lounge in his recliner and browse his email or the internet in comfort. I even signed him up for his own Facebook account, and he loves it because he can keep up with the kids and grandkids. He likes his weather apps, but he loves taking it to his workshop to listen to bluegrass music on Pandora.

I use the iPad for recipes (I love to cook), and you will often find it on my kitchen counter covered in flour. I plan trips with it. I google everything. We’ve used the maps and GPS feature on all of the road trips we’ve taken, in addition to Samantha, Henry’s Garmin Nuvi for the car (another electronic device). He still uses it because he likes to argue with the female voice that is always telling him he’s wrong.

We liked the iPad so much that we both got iPhones. I got mine first and it was love at first use. I text a little, mostly to the younger set in the family. I use it for news, Facebook, weather (I have several aviation weather apps), email, Tapatalk for my aviation forums, TripAdvisor, photostream, a pedometer and GPS for hiking, music, etc. The app from my favorite grocery store stores my coupons electronically so I can use them when the item is on sale. Pretty neat.

I seldom use it for a phone.

Of course, since we are pilots, one of the first apps we purchased for our Apple devices was ForeFlight. Our simple, but effective, Magellan 315s were rather outdated and jumping from those simple devices to ForeFlight with its wealth of information and ease of use was rather thrilling. The Old Man uses the iPad in his 8A and under the same subscription I am able to use ForeFlight with my iPhone in my 8E.

We bought some dandy mounts for our devices and now I can fly and Facebook at the same time. Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to make any real cross-country trips in the Luscombes since we’ve had ForeFlight, but hopefully that will change in the coming year.

This year’s Antique Airplane Association fly-in in Blakesburg, Iowa, not only celebrates the 60th anniversary of the association; it will also recognize the 75th anniversary of the Luscombe model 8 aircraft. We have to be there! Even though the event is over the Labor Day weekend, the Old Man and I have already made our reservations.

We have also already planned our flight as well. We didn’t stoop over a table covered in maps, drawing lines and calculating distances and headings. Instead, one rainy Saturday morning, I got up, fixed us a cup of coffee, grabbed the iPad and slipped back into bed. We laid there in comfort, listening to the rain while we planned and dreamed with ForeFlight.

Deb & Lester

Deb & Lester

Five hundred and fifty-five miles separate Pickens County Airport (JZP) and Antique Airfield (IA27) with the stops we have planned. That’s only little more than five miles off of direct. With only 14 gallons of fuel on board, we hope for three, but have plotted, four stops. It’s not a good idea to let the fuselage tank on an 8A get too low. The gravity flow of the fuel has been known to be weak or nonexistent when at a quarter of a tank or below.

Since we do not have a transponder in the 8A, we will make a little jog to the east to Collegedale to avoid over flying the Class C at Chattanooga.

Our first stop is planned for Lebanon, Tenn., just east of Nashville. We’ve used that for a first stop before when flying to the Luscombe fly-in in Illinois years ago. We avoid the St. Louis airspace altogether but will transverse both the Pruitt MOAs. Our last stop before Blakesburg will be Quincy Regional.

ForeFlight calculates that our flight without winds aloft will take 7 hours and 2 minutes. It will be more. The winds are typically out of the west, but as we will be deep into summer, they should be light. It will probably be hot as Hades. Let’s face it — the endurance of our little classic airplane and its fuel system is less of an issue now. More important is the endurance of the mature pilots. I would like to be able to walk after such a flight.

Since we are retired, we will handle this trip as an adventure. We will have days to get there and days to return. There will be no get-there-itis. We can stop at any of these airports and rent a car if needs be. I know. I googled the towns to make sure the service was available. Our fuel stops also have hotels within ½ mile of the airport, so we can walk if necessary.

It is our plan to bring along our judgment and pack our common sense, so hopefully this ForeFlight dream will become a wonderful reality.

Oh, and the horrid frustration I mentioned earlier, I bought a new electronic device (you can’t have too many). I thought it was time the McFarland home had a nice laptop that will gradually take over (remember the slooow change) for the two computing monsters upstairs. I may have been a little optimistic. This one came pre-loaded to outwit me with a perplexing strategy called Windows 8.

I am determined, however, to endeavor to persevere. My little Luscombe was somewhat vexing at first, but I learned to change what I could and accept what I could not.

It’s worked so far.


  1. THOMAS ELAM says

    I bought Garmin’s software for my Android tablet and phone. Wow, works like a charm. The annual subscription is less than I was paying for charts and Flightsoft Pro, and the functionality is far beyond anything other than the G1000 hardware I fly with in the CAP 182T I spend a lot of hours with. Truly amazing how far we have advanced in a few years.

  2. Greg Johnson says

    Good article Deb, I bought an iPad mini just to run the aviation apps, and only because the reviews weren’t good on the Android platform. I thought that I was going to like it because it was so intuitive and seemingly easy to use until………. I tried to get it to play with my PC world! It turns out that Apple doesn’t play we’ll outside of it’s world, meaning the real business world. Since I still have to make a living in the engineering survey world I have to stay in the PC computing OS environment. Talk about frustration! When the aviation apps get more mature in Android OS I’ll change to it, and sell my mini. Android plays better in the PC world. It’s a fun time to enjoy flying cross country with all these gadgets. Oh, did I mention that I have paper backups in the plane. I know too much about computers to totally trust them…. Have a great week.

  3. Michael Dean says

    Run… do not walk… RUN from Windows 8. It’s all part of the “master plan”.

    See you at Blakesburg. :)

  4. Lee Ensminger says

    Nice story, and it sounds like it will be a great trip! You should have gotten a Mac laptop. You’re obviously Apple-friendly with your iPads and iPhones, so why not the laptop? I don’t hear anything good about Windows 8. I’m typing this comment on a PowerBook G4 we purchased in 2004 or 5. It’s still going strong on OS 10.4.11.

  5. says

    Hi Deb, You were doing so well with iPad and iPhone…why choose a Windows product?? (non-intuitive and crappy operating system) NOW you will suffer! Donate that new pestilence to a worthy cause and get a refurbished MacBook Pro running OSX…very reliable and intuitive (unix-based). If you want to get fancy, everything can sync with your iPhones and iPad so all your data is available on any device! Though many people consider Apple products “wiz bang geeky new”, I apply the old “farmer-engineer standard”; they are “tools” that should be comfortable, work reliably and get the job done efficiently every time! Good luck with the trip to Iowa!

    • Bill Lyons says

      Frustration? I’ve been retired some 20 years and I doubt the obviously happy McFarland couple is either, with their great communal interest in the newest electronic language of flying. It does throw into sharp relief the the lack of currency in the “old language” a.k.a. English. The succeeding generations’ frequent misuse of the verbs lie and lay make for some unexpected chuckles. Deb’s very pleasant letter did not prepare readers for the comment that she and hubby got laid one rainy morning while they planned and dreamed.

      • Deb McFarland says

        Dear Mr. Lyon,

        You are under the misconception that I am proficient in the use of the English language. I currently am not. I have never been, nor do I plan to be in the future. I speak, think and write in the language of my ancestors, and no amount of higher education has been able to remove the twang from my speech or the creative use of verbs from my writing. I will try to reference my dogeared copy of The Confident Writer more often so I do not offend the sensibilities of those who notice such failures. In my defense, I can only blame that horrid Windows 8 contraption I was using at the time.

        Thank you for reading!

        Deb McFarland

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