Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Apple iPad : Electronic Flight Bag?

In case you missed it yesterday, Apple just announced their long awaited tablet, the iPad.

At first, I was a bit underwhelmed, its just a big iPod touch right? Why pay $499 (at least) for features that are in the smaller, lighter cousins.

Then I stopped looking at it as a iPod, and more like an electronic flight bag.

What features does it have that make it excellent for an EFB?

  • Long battery life (10 hours...although realistically probably five)
  • Huge high resolution, back-lit screen (perfect for maps, IFR approach plates, etc)
  • Loads of quality aviation software (you have to pay per app, but you get to customize the device with only the software you want / need to use)
  • Doubles as an in-flight, or after flight entertainment device for yourself or your pax.
  • Its price range already qualifies it for aviation ;)
All joking aside, if you're trying to decide between a light "netbook" and the iPad, why not take a look at a device that you can take in the cockpit as well? Now since the iPad is brand new, I wouldn't expect to see many of these in cockpits yet, but after a couple of generations of improvement from Apple, I have a feeling that will change.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Aviation Forums, the good the bad the ugly

When I started learning how to fly I realized something early on that really surprised me, finding decent relevant information online about flying is a virtual crapshoot (pun intended).

The problem isn't that there is a shortage of knowledgeable aviation professionals, and enthusiasts. On the contrary, there are hundreds of pilots, mechanics, licensed medical examiners, and aviation lawyers online right now asking and giving advice.

The problem is, unless you're cued into the right forums, the right groups (AOPA, EAA), and blogs, the people with the right answers to your questions can be quite difficult to find.

Furthermore, once you've found a forum, the proper netiquette is to search the forum or newsgroup to find out if the question has been asked before. With some of the forum software out there, that could be a slow, torturous prospect! Imagine searching for a needle in a haystack with only a refrigerator magnet!

So how can you fix this?

Step 1: Well, you can start by creating a site that's built with the sole purpose of having people ask questions and get relevant answers. You implement a voting system for best answers, you base the system off of wikis, allowing users to edit questions and answers to make them better, you give users the ability to self-moderate the posts to prevent trolls.

Step 2: Attract a community of helpful, resourceful pilots and other aviation folks to post their questions and answers.

I've got Step 1 down, all I need is to figure out Step 2.

Give Circle To Land ( a try, if you ask a question I'll be on there to give you an answer. If you give an answer I'll vote it up. In time, I hope to have Circle to Land be that place on the web you can go to get relevant answers about your aviation questions.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Circle to Land Groundhog's Day Contest!

Circle to Land needs pilots to post their flying questions and give answers pronto! What better way to bribe encourage people into using a website than to launch a cheesy themed contest?

Announcing Circle to Land's Groundhog's Day Contest!

Here's the deal, for everyone who creates and account on Circle to Land, and posts at least 10 questions AND 10 answers (yes you can answer your own question) by Feb 3rd, 2010 12:00AM EST...I will give them a $10 gift card (user will choose out of a selection of gift cards).

For the person who asks AND answers the MOST questions by the deadline (Feb 3rd, 2010 12:00AM EST), they will get a $50 gift card of their choice.

This is only for accepted questions and answers, I reserve the right to moderate the site, and I will take off questions and answers that are offensive or don't have anything to do with flying.

  • Again, you'll get a $10 gift card if you post 10 questions AND 10 answers (yes you can answer your own question) by Feb 3rd 2010, 12:00AM EST

  • One winner will get a $50 gift card, for posting AND answering the most questions by Feb 3rd 2010, 12:00AM EST

  • Questions and answers have to be accepted by the moderators and visible on the site and they have to be related to flying or learning how to fly.

  • Obviously, you'll have to create an account with a valid email address so I can contact you and send you the gift card. Due to shipping costs, I will not accept non-US mailing addresses.

So head on over to and get posting!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Dumb Pilot Questions

You know the saying that there's no such thing as a dumb question? I find that's especially true in aviation, although sadly there are some of those that disagree. Since pilots are held to a very high standard, I think there's a problem in the industry that after you reach a certain level, say a private pilot certificate, then you are expected to know anything and everything about flying an airplane (or helicopter, or balloon, or glider).

The truth is, despite what the media, general public, or the FAA would expect, pilots can't and don't know everything. We know a lot, but all of us still have questions that have been plaguing the dark corners of our minds that we have yet to share with the outside world for fear of ridicule (or a license suspension!).

Here are some of mine:
What's the technique for a short field AND soft field landing?

How will lasik eye surgery affect my medical?

Engine out in IMC?

So I invite any fellow pilot reading this. Go to, and post answers for my dumb questions. Better still, if you have any dumb questions of your own to post, please post them!

I promise I won't laugh.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Circle to Land - Questions for Pilots by Pilots

Questions, every pilot has them. Whether it’s about proper stick and rudder technique on a short field, VFR airspace restriction requirements, how to properly “burp” a Rotax 912, or even the emergency engine restart procedures on the Airbus A320, chances are you might have some questions that your buddies hanging outside the FBO can’t answer.

Sure you can try the various aviation related forums online, but even after you find a forum that’s close to the topic you’re asking about (after an hour of searching), how can you tell you’re getting the best answer? And how many times have you asked a question on an aviation forum only to be shouted by annoyed regulars “this was already asked before, read before you post!”?

What if there was an aviation site designed for pilots to ask questions and get answers from other pilots? What if as soon as you started to type a question a list of possible matching questions came up for you? How about a site where other pilots could up vote / down vote answers, helping you figure out the best answer to your question? How about a site that rewards you for answering questions by giving you less advertising, editing privileges, even advance community moderation tools to help make the site better for all pilots?

Circle to Land is that site.

Circle to Land is meant to be the site for you, questions and answers from pilots, for pilots. As long as your question is reasonably objective and has something to do with piloting something that flies (whether it’s a hot air balloon, powered chute, Cessna 172, or Citation X), Circle to Land™ is your site.

If you like to answer questions rather than asking them, Circle to Land has something for you! You gain reputation with each answer, the more questions you answer the more benefits you get (even editing and moderating other people’s posts)!

No matter what kind of pilot you are, a student, freight dog, CFI, bush pilot, or captain flying the Big Iron, if you have something to offer your fellow pilots at Circle To Land (and something to receive in turn). If you have any questions, don’t be afraid to ask me.