Zero to 5000 feet in 3 steps! With any type of flight, you must log your times and locations for upgrades to your license. With all the flight log programs, you’ll have to look at each one and see which you might like to use. One of the one I use is real basic but it allows you to connect to your existing Palm Address Book to log your flying buddies. The really nice feature of these programs is that it allows you to see all the flights you’ve taken from a particular location, or all flights you have had in the last year where you broke 10,000 feet. It also allows you to analysis where you might seem to be having your best flights from. (This way, if you’re feeling down, just go back to the place where you keep having your best flights, and you are almost guarantied to have a great day)! Most of these programs are for private pilot and beyond flight logging. But they work really well for Hang Gliding, Paragliding, or any other type of sport flying. The last time I was PIC (Pilot In Command) of a motorized aircraft was a C172 in 1987, this was the year I found Hang Gliding, and I’ve never looked back!
Timing of each flight is important. The clock programs usually have a stopwatch feature, they will either allow for counting up or down depending on what you want. Some of the flight log programs also have this feature. With the flight log programs, when you stop the clock, it automatically adds it to the flight log. You can always edit it later if you let the time run too long.
Another nice thing about using the clock programs is that you should be able to time more than one thing at a time. Most clock programs will allow you to name your timers. This will allow you to time yourself along with 3 or 4 of your flying buddies. You can even set all the timers to start simultaneously. So after you’ve named them, just one click and they all start. The only problem with this is you almost have to land first to be able to stop the timers for your buddies. I’ve dropped my Smartphone quiet a few times, but that’s only from about 4 to 5 feet at most, and so far, it’s survived each drop. I don’t think any Smartphone out there was meant to survive a 7000-foot drop. (I haven’t tried this yet)! I don’t suggest you try it either. I have a funny, non-fuzzy feeling it won’t make it.
The ParaPhone: I have tried to design a small parachute for my Smartphone. But I haven’t yet had the guts to actually give it a try. I guess I’m just chicken! I would also need a beacon of some kind to locate the phone in the middle of the woods, or where ever it lands after leaving the comfort of my Hang Glider harness. More on this later – watch http://www.robertlett.com for updates.
Most of the pilots use Amatuer radio’s to communicate with one another. I’m just waiting on the day where my Smartphone will incorporate at least the 2 meter and 7cm Amatuer bands. And a 1KHz to 1GHz scanner would also be nice! I’m still waiting.
The flight logs will also hold any notes you would like to make about another pilot. With mine, I keep radio information on each pilot I fly with. Some use HAM radio and others use Hang Gliding specific radios which are in the 151MHz band. This way I know which radio to carry with me so I can be on the same frequency.
Some of the more advanced flight decks with incorporated GPS will give the entire flight history of the last 10 flights. This data is easiely sent to your computer for future use. With programs such as DocsToGo or MiniCalc/Chart you can view all your past flights from a particular site graphically. The software outputs a comma delimited file that can be imported to a spreedsheet program. As long as the spreedsheet program has charting capabilities, you can view the graphs created from previous flights. Which is nice to get a graph chart on your average flight times, site altitude, flight track, and distance. Now when you are traveling, you just pull up the next location, and your flight trends are right there in the palm of your hand along with all the people you met at that location. And all the contact information you might need.
These GPS flightdeck units will usually have the following display capable:
Time of day
Speed over ground
Diff. speed between TAS and groundspeed
Altitude over destination
Distance to destination
Direction to best climb in vicinity
Altimeter 2 (relative)
Altimeter 3 (cumulated altitude)
Barometric pressure (HPa/in Hg)
Glide ratio (through air, over ground, to waypoint)
You can check them out at: http://www.flytec.com
I’ve gone to a few new spots that I was planning to skip. And had to go online and search for contacts to call for site permissions. I would just do this while sitting next the fire at the camp site the night before showing up. Then, when I was getting close to the new site, just give them a call and pickup all the information I need. By the time I arrived at the site, everyone was ready for me. I knew what frequencies they used. What their procedures were and where to sign in. And of course, sign a waiver if need be. (People always worry about you crashing or something)!? Usually, before hitting the sack and the camp ground the night before, I email ahead to my contact list at the original site, just to let them know I might be a few days behind. (Something about this sport makes people paranoid when you don’t call when plans change. I have no idea why! I’ve been chewed-out by someone I didn’t even know, for not checking in with them).
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