How do you brief a flight to an airport or an area you’ve never been before? Do you brief that trip at all?
Back when I learned to fly in the 1980s, a sectional chart and maybe a road atlas were all we had.
My Dad and I used to joke about flying several hundred miles to exactly where we intended and then sometimes struggle to find the actual airport. In today’s world of moving map technology paired with GPS, finding the airport is among the least of our problems.
At EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2019, I circled “Flight Practice with Mobile Tech” on the extensive list of forums I planned to attend. I’m glad I did.
FlightChops has made a name for himself by filming his flights and using them to actively debrief. Deft editing for lessons learned and entertainment have made Steve a household name in the aviation world thanks to his humility and YouTube.
Laura grew up in France. Like many, she started “flying” via Microsoft’s Flight Simulator software. She logged thousands of hours. On her first “real” flight lesson, some distance from the airport, her instructor asked if she could navigate back to the airport. Laura, much to the shock of her instructor, tuned the ADF and tracked the needle back to the airport — something she’d simulated countless times.
“Students with sim experience are far ahead of those without,” said Laura during the forum.
For such a tech savvy duo, the presentation was very low tech. Steve and Laura literally passed the microphone back and forth telling their side of each point they hoped to make.
Much of the discussion was scenario based. Steve uses Infinite Flight to brief an approach plate in ForeFlight. He can simulate the entire approach so when he does it for real, he’s already been there and done that. That helps him tremendously as he works toward his instrument rating, he said.
But the example that most resonated with me was one Laura offered. She’d just bought a plane and was flying it to California.
Before a leg from Southern Oregon to Redding, California, Laura “flew” the flight using Infinite Flight. Based on the look of the terrain, she elected to take a coastal route as opposed to flying over — and through — some of the most rugged mountains on the west coast.
Take a look at the detail Infinite Flight offers and I think you’ll agree this is an amazing tool for seeing what you’ll see when you actually hop in the cockpit.
For Laura, being able to visually see what she was preparing to fly over — and through — gave her the information and confidence to select a route better in tune with her personal minimums.
During the forum I wrote in my notebook, “Does this take the serendipity/adventure away from flying?” I mean, if you’ve already flown it, is the adventure muted?
Upon further reflection … No. Visualization is a proven technique that works for athletes and aviators alike.
Walk into any flight school and you’re likely to find a poster of a plane’s cockpit (probably taken in front of Sporty’s) to be used to simulate or visualize a procedure of some sort.
But nothing matches — or beats — actually flying the flight. For real.
But then again, Dad and I would’ve had to find something else to joke about. Fear not, we had plenty of material.