In this post I am going to explain why every pilot needs an iPad. I am writing this article as someone who believes the Android operating system is more powerful and in my opinion the better operating system.
So why am I recommending that you buy an iPad? Simple, I believe in buying the best tool for a job, and when it comes to aviation, the iPad is just that! The industry seems to have standardised around this device and as the old saying goes, if you can’t beat them, join them.
I am going to list all of the things that you can do on your iPad. Yes I am aware that you can do some / all of these things on an Android device but when it comes to aviation some of the apps run better on the Ipad and believe me it’s just easier to get the Apple device..
- Flight Planning – You can plan your entire flight and correct for wind etc all using free apps such as Skydemon light. At the time of writing there is no Skydemon Light for Android but there is an online version you can use on your PC.
- GPS – One of the main benefit is that the iPad can become your inflight GPS. While you shouldn’t use this as your primary source of navigation it makes a great backup to your map! There is also an app for avoiding restricted airpspace that will also give you your Notams called UK Airspace Avoid!
- Weather and Notams – You can get all of these direct on your iPad and it just saves time looking them up online.
- Study – The two ATPL schools I am looking at do not even offer an Android app (which in 2016 is not good enough) but they do have iPad apps.
- Electronic Flight Computer – Your iPad could even replace your flight computer should you wish.
- Documents – Would you like to carry round 300 page books or would you prefer to carry around an iPad? I mean if you are anything like me, you have enough stuff in your flight bag!
On top of this you have all the non flying but nice to have things that you can do.
- Music, video, internet and apps – Keep yourself entertained while you are waiting around between flights or having a bite to eat.
- Email – Keep up to date with your emails.
I would also recommend you purchase the following items.
- Kneeboard / Yoke mount – You will need to put the iPad somewhere that you can see it and use it quickly.
- Tempered Glass Screen Protector – The iPad will be in an enviroment where it could possibly take knocks or roll around in your flight bag, so this will add that little bit of extra protection to the screen.
- Rugged Case – The small cases are nice but you should look into something with a bit more protection to help protect it from knocks.
- Spare Charger – You will probably want to keep a spare charger in your bag.
There are two sizes of the iPad and I personally think the Mini is the better sized device for small cockpits like the Cessna 152. The 4 is the latest version and the 2 and 3 are exactly the same bar the fact that the 3 has a fingerprint reader.
The main benefit of the 4 is that it is faster and has twice the ram of the mini 2. This doesn’t mean that the mini 2 is slow, it is still a more than capable tablet.
Both the 2 and 4 have a retina screen however I personally say you should by the version with cellular. The reason I say to get this version is because it has an included GPS chip. While this may be standard on most Android tablets unfortunately on the Wifi only iPad they have for some reason decided to leave it out.
You don’t actually have to have a sim plan to use the GPS function but it could be useful for live weather etc.
Furthermore, you cannot just buy a cheap bluetooth GPS like you could on an Android tablet as only certain GPS receivers work with the iPad and they are all pretty pricey.
In terms of storage size you can get iPad’s in 16gb, 32gb, 64gb, 128gb. Now when I was looking I thought the 16gb would be far too small, however I got a deal that I couldn’t turn down. The 16gb is big enough if you are going to use it ONLY as a flight tool. I don’t have any music or videos on my device as I have a Galaxy Note 4 with 32gb built in and a 64gb micro sd card where I can store all of that stuff.
If you ask me the perfect iPad for flying, VFR anways, is the 32gb iPad mini 4 Cellular. If you make it to an airline and have more space then you can treat yourself to an upgrade.
Put simply I feel this is a device that every pilot should have in their flight bag! Do you have one?