Pilot Hacker

787 Systems

Remember when GPS was new? (I realize I'm dating myself by saying this. If I was cool I'd say, "Remember when NDBs were new?") Most planes had nothing more than a couple VOR/LOC/ILS receivers and an ADF. It was pretty special to find one with DME. A plane with GPS was all the rage and it was amazing what you could do with it...like go direct to a point, as was the extent of my knowledge. Well, aircraft systems have come a long way since then. The toys they're looking at putting on Boeing's 787 Dreamliner in this video are pretty amazing.

Show Us the Apps!

We're looking for some great aviation apps, and anything goes! We'll take iPhone/Palm/Android/Web and any other platform in between. The idea is to compile them into something useful, so next time you've got to burn an iTunes gift card, or find a program that grabs weather for flight planning we can help you out. Just drop your favorite aviation apps into the comments and we'll compile and put them in our aviation app comparison page. Oh and you'll even be able to add reviews to your favorites... That way we avoid the lemons!

Birds Eye of the "Boneyard"

Google and Bing both have some great high-res shots of the Davis-Monthan AFB "Boneyard." High enough to actually identify most of the models and even check to make sure we're still complying with the START treaty by lopping the wings off of B-52's (check the lower right hand corner). AMARG, the group responsible for the facility, boasts an inventory of over 4,400 aircraft. The F-4's alone are supposedly worth around $27Billion, or at least that's what was paid for them... I wonder if they'd mind me pulling the ole flatbed up and absconding with a couple of the T-38's they've got just sitting around?

See Spot Work

The Spot Messenger has always intrigued me a little bit. It's basically a portable ELT allowing you to call for help with the push of a button rather than a crash... You can chose folks to view your progress on google maps, or even have them get updates via text message. Additionally if you just need help, like a mechanic and not a paramedic, there's a button to ask for that.

While this certainly isn't a replacement for an ELT in your aircraft, it could be a useful tool for you backcountry folks to keep in the ole safety vest. Check out the video below from Wired detailing their test of the service. It's $169 to buy and about $100 a year to keep the service active making it one of the cheaper additions to your lifesaving kit! If you've carried a Spot and had the chance to use it, we'd love to hear about it in the comments.

Google Earth Weather Overlay

Google Earth is an amazing tool for visualizing the world we fly in. Pair it with some of the great open source overlays out there and you've got a kick ass pre-flight intelligence tool. av8rdan has put together a nice outline showing you how to throw some NOAA weather data on top of the map. It's pretty straightforward, and if you're tech savvy enough you can pair this with your proposed flight path giving you an idea of what you're in for.

Free IFR Plates!!!

Who doesn’t like free stuff, especially free stuff that we would normally pay good money for. Even better, stuff for free that we would normally pay good money for that we can use for flying! John Baute got tired of two things, carrying around a suitcase full of paper IFR charts and approach plates, and paying for printed charts and plates (every couple of months when they expire) when the information is free from the FAA. To solve both problems, John started pdfplates.com.

When Doing Your Homework Pays Off

I haven't mentioned the story here yet, but my airplane's engine gave out on me and needs to be repaired or replaced. That means I've been doing a lot of research on the Continental C-145 and it's close-enough cousin, the O-300. My research nearly led me to buy one, but thanks to Ted and some deeper digging, I was able to avoid disaster. Read on for the rest of the story...

Great Apps for Mac and iPhone

I was inspired by the folks at The Unofficial Apple Weblog when they put together a list of five great apps for pilot's. Since I'm a recent Mac convert and an iPhone owner I was thrilled to see some of the choices that I didn't even know existed. I've taken the liberty of adding some of my personal favorites and those suggested in the comments and compiled them here for a quick reference.

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