My Favorite #Aviation #Apps … & #TWA800

#blog #avgeek #weather #NTSB
This post is dedicated to the memory of the victims and families of the TWA 800 tragedy.
May the truth out, so the pain can be healed . . .
Special note:  Today marks the 17th anniversary of the explosion of TWA 800, downed—we are told—by a “frayed fuel tank wire.”  A documentary premiers tonight on Epix that attempts to “shoot down” that theory.  Here’s the Trailer:


Also check out Karlene Petitt’s excellent post today, “In Memory of TWA 800”: http://karlenepetitt.blogspot.com/2013/07/in-memory-of-twa-800.html

Miss TWA also has a short and sweet post honoring the fallen, including the ATC feed of eyewitnesses to the explosion.  As she says, not for our morbid curiosity, but because the pilots and controllers themselves honor them by ending with a, “God bless them.”


Please be on the lookout for Airways Magazine Contributing Editor Mark L. Berry’s upcoming memoir, 13,670 Feet—Living with TWA Flight 800.  (Publication date TBA.)  A TWA pilot who lost his fiancée in the crash, Berry writes candidly about the dark days following the tragedy.  He forwarded me an advanced copy of it, and when the proper time comes I’ll review it in this blog.  Needless to say . . . . it’s an intense read!

Here’s my quote that he uses on his blog, and the link to read Chapter 1, plus other specials:

“Captain Berry wisely dovetails his excruciating psychological odyssey with the fascinating journey of his own airline career. An eye-opener for any landlubber, he presents a bird’s eye view—warts and all—of the gritty, sometimes comical, reality of those daring young men and women in their flying machines. From his shoestring-budget gambit to launch his career by becoming a “Pilot of the Caribbean,” to his misadventures as a naive B-727 Flight Engineer based in Germany, Berry’s book could easily double as an entertaining, Ernest K. Gann-infused how-to manual for the airline pilot wannabe.”

                                                           — Eric Auxier
                                                               Airline pilot and author of The Last Bush Pilots   


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And now back to our regular blog post, already in progress . . . .

One of the most common questions I get from readers is, “What are your favorite aviation apps?”  So, an apropos post is in order…
$9.99 iPad      $5.99 iPhone/Android
First of all, I’d like to review a new flight weather planning app for the iPad called, Takeoff HD.  App developer Derek sent me a free copy and asked me to review it; otherwise, no money or merch changed hands for this review.  He rolled the dice, hoping I’d like it!


And I do.  I’ve longed for a quick, comprehensive app that would have all those elusive weather charts at my fingertips.  As long as I have a strong Wifi or 3G signal (I’ve got an iPad 2), this slick gizmo whips up the wx charts faster than you can say, “SIGMET!”

But I’m getting ahead of myself.  First off, I like the cool, intuitive interactiveness of the app.  Right off the bat, it has you input your “limits”—IFR, VFR, or personal ceiling/clouds you’re comfy with inflight.  Then, when you move on to check airports and routes, it automatically color codes them with green, yellow, and red, depending on your personal minimums.  

At a glance, you already know how “risky” the flight will be for you.  How cool is that!

Uh oh, KSEA checking in with 500 foot cloud base.
Time to scrub the pleasure cruise and head to the pub!

And, speaking of planning, you simply type in departure and destination airports, and Takeoff HD comes up with the wx at all airports enroute.  I like the quick, easy-to-read format for the airport info as well.

Personally, my favorite part of the app is the Graphics section.  With a good signal, I instantly have any weather chart available—around the world!

Pick a chart, it comes right up…
Of course, any app has its downside, and here’s my biggest squawks

…do the ol’ 2-finger spread, and it zooms in!

First and formost, I’d like an option to go full screen.  While the zoom feature is great, I always like to have a full screen on my charts.

The charts seen ’round the world!

Secondly, this is a flight planning tool.  Once you’re in the air and out of wifi/3G signal, it stops working.  Offline, you can access the preloaded airport data, but not the enroute data nor the charts.  In the future, I am hoping for an offline version with the charts!

Radar view ain’t too bad, neither!

Finally, while the weather chart is good, I also like to see a real-time weather loop to get an idea of a storm’s progress.

All in all, Takeoff HD is an awesome app, and does just about everything a weather flight planning app should do.


And at $9.99 iPad/$5.99 iPhone/Android, it’s a steal!

Cap’n Aux Rating: 

Excellent!
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I HIGHLY RECOMMEND this app, especially for the GA pilot.


Check it out yourself at:  http://takeoffaviationweather.com/

Speaking of fast-access Wx RADAR loops, my Go-to RADAR app is . . .

NOAA RadarUS
$1.99 iPhone/iPad



Again, assuming a strong wifi or 3G signal, I can call up the RADAR pretty fast, and loop it:

I love my loops!

While I liked the original background map better, the new version appears to load much faster.  And, as above, fast is my first and foremost need.  With 3 or more bars of signal, I can have the loop a-looping to show me the wx trend.

Cap’n Aux Rating: 
Excellent!
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AeroWeather
Lite Version—Free


Another good quickie app for checking METARs and TAFs (Airport weather reports and Terminal Area forecasts)

What’s more, via Airnav.com, one can call up any number of airports for details on frequencies, services, runway details . . . 



. . . even call up current PDF’s of every SID, STAR and Approach Plate!  (All instrument charts.)


Cap’n Aux Rating: 
Dang Good!
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Intellicast HD
Free; $1.99/6 mo. ad-free

Before the age of awesome aviation weather apps, I used to have the intellicast.com url saved to my iPad homescreen as a pseud-app.  With it, I could (slowly) access all the weather charts I needed.  

Now, Intellicast has come up with Intellicast HD.

Sadly, however, it is not geared toward aviation.  In fact, it’s just a simple, locals-only weather app.  Works great . . . if you’re staying put.  The free version also comes with ads…lots of ads.

The best use I found for it, actually, is as a night stand clock!  It shows the time in easy-to-see bold numbers, and shows the local forecast.

Intellicast.com screen shot.  It will even run a RADAR loop!

For the diehard chart lover who wants a free “pseudo-app,” saving intellicast.com to the home screen is still a great way to go!

Intellicast HD
Cap’n Aux Rating: 
Meh.
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Other Notable Aviation Apps:

Flight Planning:

ForeFlight—A very comprehensive flight planning tool.  Has a really cool feature of overlaying weather RADAR over VFR sectional charts, or IFR Lo/Hi charts.  And it loops!  Way cool!  If I was a GA pilot, this could very well be my go-to app.  Downside:  at $75/year subscription price, you’d better be a high-falutin’ airplane owner!
iE6B—As a pampered airline pilot type, I don’t think I could slide rule my way out of a paper bag any more. . . but the iE6B electronic substitute for that venerable icon of flying—the E6B circular slide rule—does it for me!
Name That Nav!—It’ “SUX” when Center says, “Cleared direct to Sioux Falls,” and you have to reply, “Uh, what’s the identifier for that?”* Name that Nav fixes that aeronautical faux pas!


More Weather:
TWC—The Weather Channel.  The definitive landlubber’s weather app.
iHurricane Pro—I used this to track Sandy.  Since then, haven’t touched it.
AccuWeather—Like Intellicast HD, but with slightly more features, and slightly more interactive.
TurbCast—For nervous flyers, a quick check on the chances of moderate or severe turbulence on your flight. 

Flight Tracker’s/Traveler’s Delights:

FlightAware—Where would you be without it!
FlightTrack—Quick, easy flight tracking.  Slightly quicker and easier to use than FlightAware.  But less info.
LiveATC—Yep, the website you use to eavesdrop on flight transmissions comes in an app as well!
TripTracker—Same stuff, different app.
FAAwait—Whoever thought the FAA would come up with something worthwhile?  FAAwait tells you accurate estimates of Airport delays across the country!
NOTAM Decoder—Free. From their site: “NOTAMs Decoder intelligently gathers all NOTAMs in a requested area (U.S. ONLY), and sorts them according to risk and importance. NOTAMs are presented in an ordered, color-coded way, with one tap access to the full report. ” http://appshopper.com/utilities/notams-decoder

Jumpseaters’ Delights:
Next Flight: Indispensible for the cross-country pilot-commuter!  Lists, in chronological order, all flights from Point A to Point B!

ALPA: Every airline’s jumpseat requirements at your fingertips.  Current airline news to boot!  Bonus: KCM checkpoints!

—For comprehensive “Best of” reviews from Sporty’s Pilot Shop and Plane & Pilot Magazine, check out:
http://ipadpilotnews.com/2013/01/top-10-weather-apps-for-pilots/
http://www.planeandpilotmag.com/products/pilot-supplies/20-new-ipad-apps.html

*If you didn’t get it, the 3-letter i.d. for Sioux City, IA is: “SUX.”  LOL!;)

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LINED UP & WAITING
Launching Wednesday, July 24 @ 11:00 PHX
“The Best Office View”—Part 1
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First of a 3-part series!
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Wednesday, July 31

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TAXIING FOR TAKEOFF
Blogging in Formation Week!
Posts all week beginning Saturday, August 3rd!
August’s theme: Aviation Tales that are . . .

Stranger than Fiction!
Cap’n Aux post: Wednesday, August 7

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