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I got two RV-8 flights during the last week - on Monday and Saturday. The first one was dedicated to evaluating whether an Apple iPad would prove to be a suitable replacement for paper IFR charts and approach plates. Up to now, I have used official Nav Canada paper IFR charts and approach plates. For travel in the US, I purchased VFR Sectional Atlas and IFR Atlas from Air Chart Systems. These atlases are reproductions of the official charts, but in a convenient spiral bound book. For US approach plates, I have been downloading the publically available PDF files, and printing out the ones of interest. The others I put on my iPod Touch, just in case I need to do a diversion.

All these publications for Canada and the US cost quite a bit of money, and take up a lot of space in the cockpit. I’d love to find a better solution. Enter the iPad.

Terry has a first generation iPad - the 3G version with built-in GPS receiver. There are several applications that provide US pubs, but ForeFlight is the only one that also provides Canadian charts and approach plates. We bought a KneeDock at Oshkosh last year, but I had never tried it out. I had convinced myself that there wouldn’t be room for the iPad, as the stick would hit it. But, finally on Monday I downloaded Foreflight (free for 30 days), downloaded the low enroute chart and some approach plates, then went flying to try it out. I found that the iPad sat high enough above me leg so the top of the stick would slip underneath the edge of the it. The visibility was good, even in the bright sunlight. There was a bit of glare, but it wasn’t too bad. The glare wasn’t nearly as bad as it appears in the pictures.

I flew down to Brockville, and shot the RVAV RWY 22 approach, followed by a missed approach to the hold. Then I zipped back to Smiths Falls and did the RVAV RWY 24. The approach plates on the iPad were completely readable.


While enroute, a moving aircraft symbol appeared on the IFR low enroute chart.


I concluded that the iPad is a very worthwhile replacement for paper charts. I won’t renew my subscriptions to paper charts. I’ll plan to print out the approach plates for destination and alternate, and I’ll also install ForeFlight on my iPod Touch as an emergency backup in case the iPad dies. I’ll purchase a Scosche powerPLUG 12v USB power supply to ensure the iPad never runs out of juice while airborne (the iPad needs a higher amperage than is supplied by typical USB). I’ll buy Terry a new iPad whenever the iPad 3 comes out, and I’ll inherit her first generation one.

I got flying again yesterday. I had planned to try the Drift HD170 Stealth video camera again, but my planned mount didn’t work out, so I left it on the ground. I did about 20 minutes of aerobatics then came back to the airport. Great flight.

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  • I've got Wing X Pro and that's also an excellent iPad app for aviation. It has an excellent flight planning function, and all the US VFR charts are available, automatically loads US TFRs too. Canadian VFR charts are not in there yet, but they do have terrain data and major airports in Canada so it is useable. You can sign up for DUATS with a US address, and you have access to a lot of American weather data, etc right from the Wing X Pro application. Highly recommended.