For the general public even the best home flight simulator is just a geeky game flying enthusiast play, but for pilots it can be an incredible tool.
Home flight simulators can cut huge amounts of cost in training for the student pilot.For the IFR pilot it can keep those skills sharp and even prepare you for an interview by familiarizing yourself with an unknown aircraft in your check flight.
Obviously they cannot replace synthetic flight trainers but depending on your budget you can make them as close to real life as you want. With additional add-ons like VATSIM you can have real life ATC to increase your real life experience.
The best flight sims today are X plane 10 and Microsoft Flight Simulator X. The jury is still out on which one is the best and both camps make some strong points.
X Plane 10 and Microsoft Flight Simulator X
Popularity of x plane has grown rapidly in recent times and with the recent release of x plane 10 the growth will be even more. X plane is considered the most realistic flight sim due to its wind tunnel like software that predicts flight characteristics. It is a massive program and if you install the entire DVD set you look at around 60GB! However you only have to install the areas which you want which will you get by with around 4GB.
With functions like weather modeling (even real-time weather downloads) and simulating system failures this is a great training aid for real pilots.
You can fly any of the aircraft that comes with the set or download free or pay for extras. The user base is not as big as MFS so it can be a bit harder to find specific aircraft.
Flight Sims are power-hungry and can be quit taxing on your computer and X Plane is no exception. If you want all the rendering option on high you need a powerful computer otherwise it will struggle and it will be frustrating to fly.
Have a look at these graphics:
Microsoft Flight Simulator is the oldest of all the flight simulators and thus has the largest following. With a huge selection of aircraft and scenarios there is nothing in aviation that you won’t be able to fly.
I personally find that Microsoft Flight Sim X have more of a game like experience then X Plane and I would dare say it is aimed more at the flight sim enthusiast then the real pilot. However you will be more likely to find user-generated airports with fine detail then you will in X Plane.
In short I would say if you are after a more real life experience and training aid go for X Plane 10 and if you like a huge database and bigger selection of aircraft and scenarios go for Microsoft Flight Sim X.
The best aviation handheld radios will have to tick certain boxes. By nature, you will use these radios only when you’re main radio has failed or when you are on the ground talking to an aircraft in the air. So, with this in mind you would like to have a radio with a strong signal, which is clear and can be paired to your headset or intercom.
The Icom A14 fits these criteria perfectly. Icom has been a leading manufacturer in radio technology and have a big selection of handhelds.
The Icom A-14 is the simplest and most rugged in the range. It was designed with the student and private pilot in mind and they did a good job in doing that.
It is a small lightweight unit with a remarkable clear and loud sound due to a built-in amplifier.
With an adaptor you can plug it straight in to your headset or intercom and you will be able to hear yourself over your own headset loud and clear.
It’s got a simple interface, which does not take long to get used to and have all the useful function and none of the bells and whistles that you will never use.
One of the best futures of this unit is its great battery live. Murphy’s law says when you are in need of your handheld, the battery will be flat, not with this unit. It’s high capacity battery can live in your flight bag and with the occasional charge you will have a fully charged battery at all times that will last for days.
If you are looking for a unit with a thousand functions this is not what you are looking for, but if you want a simple unit with clear, loud audio, strong signal and great battery life the Icom A-14 comes highly recommended.
When you are in an emergency the last thing you want to say is I wish I bought better equipment and ACR Electronics Resqlink PLB are about as good as it gets.
No sane pilot will leave an airport without a PLB and the ACR ResQ Link
is the no brainer on the market. With three levels of integrated signal technology, GPS positioning, 406 MHz signal, and 121.5 MHz homing capability the ResQLink quickly and accurately relays your position to a worldwide network of search and rescue satellites. It’s got a built-in strobe, which will make you highly visible once the rescue party arrive and the signal is accurate to a 100m.
As an optional you can subscribe to 406link.com for messaging but this PLB is not desinged as a messenger. There is also an option of a floating unit for marine environment which racked up over 30 000 emergency signals.
The unit is smallest on the market and hardly weighs anything and I know of pilots who stick it on to their belt as they climb into the aircraft. Battery life is about 30hrs with all the functions running
The number of lives saved by PLB’s is well documented and the new breed of 406 GPS enabled PLB are going to make many stranded pilots an ambassador of these units.
Aircraft Manufacturer built their planes to safety specifications and one of them are the airplane seats cushions. They have to withstand high G-force impact which means they are hard and uncomfortable. So having a comfortable airplane seat cushion can be bliss and in comes the Skwoosh Pilot Seat Cushion
SKWOOSH are made out of fluidized gel and are more comfortable because they relieve pressure on the tailbone to help maintain circulation. It reduce numbness and lower back discomfort caused by prolonged sitting and prevents those stiff legs when you get out of the plane. It fits all aircraft seats, including those with a central harness attachment and it conveniently fits in most flight bags and carry-on. The non-skid bottom makes it stay put, ensuring no movement during use while the low profile allows for normal seat position.
I have heard of some complain of the stitching that parts after extended use but mine has not shown this after 2 years.
There are more expensive options than this but I do not see how it can approve your comfort level to justify the extra cost.