Flight Gizmos Beware!
It is clear that gadgets are becoming more and more prominent in cockpits. People like the situational awareness derived from moving map displays and the ease of logging flights from one device. Flight computers are becoming more and more powerful, with many more tools and algorithms available to pilots. On one hand, this is a positive direction for the sport because when these devices are used correctly, they can allow the pilot to focus more on the flying rather than looking at maps, whizwheels, tables, charts, etc. However, this is tempered with that most pilots get attracted to all the goodies and colors displayed and end up spending LESS time looking outside.
One of the most important things to think about when setting up a flight computer is realizing that the more information that is displayed, the less meaningful it can become. This is because as you have more numbers being thrown at you, the more information you will have to interpret and the less quickly you can respond. As a result, it is imperative to question how important is the information displayed. Less is more.
So what sort of information is essential? I personally consider the following to be useful:
- McCready setting
- Speed-to-fly (still air)
- Name of next turnpoint
- Altitude needed for next turnpoint
- Distance to turnpoint
- Height needed to finish
- Wind Direction/Speed
- Glide Amoeba
- Moving map
- Altitude needed/distance to home
Since most of these things can be found on almost any flight computer, I will generally configure these elements and get rid of the rest. This declutters the screen and gives me the information that I need and nothing more. Anything more is a distraction. Each pilot can decide for themselves what they think is essential, but I encourage everyone to think hard about their flight computers and consider how much value they are getting from the information at hand.