by Gustav Ryberg
Flight School Manager/Chief Flight Instructor
I am an indiscriminant pilot. I spend considerable time aloft in a diverse fleet of aircraft. At times I find myself behind brightly lit glass panels where weather, traffic, and systems information is just a push of a button away. Other times I am twisting the omni bearing selector (OBS) of the lone VOR, triangulating my position, in an effort to get un-lost. As of late I have introduced a constant companion to an otherwise ever-changing flight environment. I purchased an “iPad” in order to gain access to “ForeFlight.”
ForeFlight is first and foremost a chart and flight information tool. A yearly subscription allows the user to download sectional, low-altitude and high-altitude charts for the entire U.S. terminal procedures, including departure, arrival, and approach charts.
The “map menu” offers a wealth of useful information including radar and satellite imagery, flight rules (VFR, MVFR, IFR and LIFR), current fuel prices, visibility, and ceiling heights, to name a few.
The “intuitive map” interface allows the user to plan an entire flight by simply touching the screen to enter waypoints. The iPad adds each leg of the trip into the flight plan log, automatically computing course, distance and time. Once the route is complete, a tap on the touch screen brings the user to the File & Brief page.
ForeFlight communicates with the user’s DUATS account, allowing weather briefings and flight plan filing to be accomplished directly from the device. Completed weather briefings are stored on the iPad for review during the flight.
The airport menu opens the door to current government terminal procedures for the entire U.S., as well as airport facility data. Simply enter the identifier for the airport of your choice and you have all frequencies, weather, runway data, current NOTAMS and approach plates at your fingertips. All terminal procedures are presented in National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Ocean Service (NOS) format.
Worried about having access to current data? ForeFlight will tell you when chart updates are available for download. A simple tap on the screen initiates the download process.
Inflight, the iPad and ForeFlight turn into a serious “situational awareness tool.” The iPad displays current aircraft location on the chart in use, including groundspeed, GPS altitude and track. The navigation log keeps you up-to-date with all information available on a conventional aviation GPS. Direct-To capabilities are available to any fix in the flight plan.
Should a re-route or diversion become necessary, simply use your finger to drag the route to the new destination and the software makes all necessary changes and updates your navigation log. While referencing terminal procedures the device displays the aircraft location superimposed on the approach plate, further enhancing situational awareness.
The iPad is available in a Wi-Fi-only version, as well as Wi-Fi and 3G. 3G provides roaming internet access over a mobile network. Only the 3G version has a built-in GPS that allows the aircraft’s position to display on charts and terminal procedures.
ForeFlight may be downloaded free of charge thru the iTunes Store. A trial version of the software allows you to explore the features of the program. In order to gain full in-flight usability of the application, a subscription must be purchased. A one-year subscription costs $74.99. If you desire geo-referenced terminal procedures and taxi diagrams (aircraft position appears on the plate), you will need to subscribe to “ForeFlight Pro” for $149.99. Your subscription will allow you to use ForeFlight on multiple devices. I have the same software installed on my iPhone, turning it into a handy backup should my primary system fail.
The iPad and ForeFlight are amazing tools that transform how you manage your flights. The iPad should not be used as a primary navigation aid. Backup charts are recommended, should an issue arise with your hardware.
The iPad and ForeFlight have transformed how I manage my workflow prior, during, and after a flight. My preflight activities are completed much more efficiently. The cockpit is now nearly paperless. I enjoy situational awareness tools that rival that of many glass cockpit aircraft. My iPad and ForeFlight combine my sectional and enroute IFR charts with the airport facility directory (A/FD) for U.S. airport facilities, approach plates and weather data. I can obtain weather briefings and file flight plans from the airplane and receive updated weather data on the go.
I mentioned that I purchased the iPad in order to use ForeFlight. Since then, the capabilities of this computer have continued to improve how I conduct day-to-day operations in the office. Thousands of applications are available for download, making the iPad a revolutionary, professional and entertainment tool.
All flight school-related forms are stored on my device (DocsToGo and Dropbox), allowing me to share important information efficiently via email. Student enrollment is accomplished using the iPad, and all records are available in an Excel format (Numbers). Ground school sessions take on a life of their own when the iPad is connected to the overhead projector allowing me to share vivid Power Point presentations (Keynote). A complete copy of an electronic FAR/AIM resides on my device allowing for quick reference to all applicable regulations. Checklists for our aircraft, as well as Standard Operating Procedures (SOP), are available on the iPad for quick reference in the airplane.
During training flights, I use note-taking software to produce a minute-by-minute record of observations to be used during the post-flight briefing (notes). These notes may be emailed to my students for later review. Within seconds of aircraft shutdown, I have logged the flight and synced the content to my electronic logbook on my desktop computer (Logbook Pro). Meetings and ground training sessions may be recorded for later review and sharing (AudioNote).
The use of paper has dramatically decreased in our office, time is spent more efficiently and customer interaction is streamlined. Many of our instructors now use this technology further, increasing the smooth flow of information and ideas. On a nearly daily basis, I have conversations with customers who have made the move to the iPad, looking for advice on how to put it to use.
Moving forward, I am confident that this device will continue to deliver, enhancing how we process information and communicate with each other.
EDITOR’S NOTE: A native of Sweden, Gustav Ryberg moved to the Madison, Wisconsin area in 1997. Shortly after arriving in Wisconsin he began his flight training at Blackhawk Airfield in Cottage Grove, Wisconsin, where he completed his private and instrument training. Wisconsin Aviation became the new home for Ryberg during his Commercial, CFI and CFII training. In 2001, Ryberg began working as a part-time CFI, which shortly thereafter turned into a full-time position.
Ryberg took a leave of absence from his instructor position in 2005 when he began working for Midwest Connect, flying the Beech 1900, initially as a first officer and later as a captain. Missing the flight-training environment, he returned to Wisconsin Aviation in 2007 in the capacity of the Chief Flight Instructor.
Since then, Ryberg has established Part 141 training programs at all three Wisconsin Aviation, Inc. locations. He has obtained Veterans Administration (VA) approval for the majority of its training programs, allowing veterans to receive reimbursement for their flight training; Students/Exchange Visitors Information System (SEVIS) approval of the flight school with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security; and an FAA letter of authorization (LOA) to conduct sightseeing flights and commercial air tours.
In his new role as Flight School Manager, Ryberg is looking forward to continued development of the flight school with an emphasis on multi-media and specialized course offerings, increased Wisconsin Aviation’s presence in the community, and continued improvements in customer experience.