Imagine a world where you could fly, knowing that in the background, all of your flight data (track, altitude, speed, heading etc.) was being recorded without any human intervention. Sure you say, flight data recorders have been doing this for years! Yes, but now imagine that all of this was available to every pilot without the need for any costly equipment. Ah, now I’ve peaked your interest. I’d like to introduce you to Cloudahoy!
Cloudahoy started its life as a basic GPS logger, the brain child of private pilot and software developer Chuck Shavit. Chuck initially created Cloudahoy as a way to view his flown track while conducting IFR approaches and the like. What eventuated though is now one of the most critical and wondrous pieces of aviation software I’ve used.
Cloudahoy is a flight logging and debrief service which tracks the progress of your flight and then, when you land, uploads this information to a detailed flight debrief service available online or on your iPad. Cloudahoy uses the on-board GPS of your iPhone to calculate and record all aspects of your flight, from take-off to landing and everything in between. What it does with this data is simply amazing – if you conduct a steep turn, for instance, not only can you see the turn in debrief but Cloudahoy will tell you it was a steep turn and allow you to skip to that part of your flight.
Want to see what you would have hit if that stall recovery didn’t work, sure thing, Cloudahoy accurately places your track onto google maps or a VFR sectional (if supported in your country).
Cloudahoy is, for the most part, an iOS or Android app. Downloadable from the app store or play store respectively and initial set up is as easy as creating an account and pressing start! Flight logging will occur regardless of your financial commitment though for detailed debriefing, a subscription is required. Don’t worry though, the fees are incredibly reasonable and I didn’t think twice about dishing out the dough. $45 USD will get you 12 months of use or you can opt for a 3 month membership for $20 USD. There is also a 35 day trial to get you started.
The Road Test
I originally found Cloudahoy while scrolling through my Instagram feed. I noticed a really cool picture of someone’s flight track in 3D. I knew that the Garmin Virb had this functionality but the price tag kept me away, but when I saw some info about the aircrafts speed and height, I was intrigued to say the least. The hashtag #cloudahoy gave me something to Google and before long, my mind was blown and my flying, changed for ever!
After reading what it could do, I started an account (with a 35 day trial), jumped in the plane and tested it out. Amazing! There it was on my computer screen. My entire flight in all its glory (including my not so stable approach). There was no hiding anymore, I could now see every twist and turn.
After my first flight with Cloudahoy, I played around with all the features and worked out what suits me best. First of all, pressing start is the most important step. I can’t tell you how frustrating it is to remember half way through a flight that you forgot to turn the bloody thing on. To overcome this, I’ve actually added an item to my start checklist – turn on Cloudahoy. This is as simple as downloading the Cloudahoy app to your smart phone or tablet and then pressing the big green button. You also have the option to add some info about the flight like pilot name and plane rego – this just sets it up to make it easier to review later. Once it’s on however, it’s literally set and forget. Even if you forget to turn it off at the end of the flight, it senses that you are no longer moving and automatically stops tracking the flight for you. Pretty nifty!
When the flights over, I log in on the tablet or PC (PC makes for easier viewing) and watch the flight. What’s great is that it breaks the flight up into segments; taxi, take off, cruise, manoeuvres, landing etc. so that you can jump to specific parts of your flight. You can also fast forward the flight as well so that you don’t have to watch a 3 hour nav in real time. Speaking of time, one thing that I love is that the playback states the time (in UTC and local) as it rolls on. So if for instance, I did a track correction at 11:49, I can just jump to that time and see how accurate I was. It’s great!
All of your flights are saved and you can leave remarks to remind you what flight it was i.e. first solo nav etc. You can also put in what your intended track was so that you can compare yours against it. The only problem is that it doesn’t seem to have Australian VFR waypoints, only major airports. Being able to log you entire flight would be great i.e. YBAF PKR YBAF. By default, Cloudahoy projects your flight on to a Google Earth map which is great, my only criticism here is that, in Australia at least, there is no option to put it on to an aviation chart like a VTC or VNC which would be great so that you can see control areas, step heights etc. There are heaps of other features on there but I’ll let you explore them for yourself.
For me, the ability to playback my entire flight is priceless – I have no gripes with paying the subscription fee at all. I’m sure with time, Cloudahoy will become more Australia-friendly, until then though flight playback on a Google Earth map is plenty for me to get excited about.
I can’t recommend this product highly enough, Chuck and the team have done a fantastic job. Grab a free trial and get flying, you won’t regret it.
I give it 4.5 stars.
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Have you used this app? Rate it!
1. Easy to use 2. Set and forget 3. Debrief service is very intuitive 4. Lots of bang for your buck
1. No option for aviation maps in Australia 2. Not all Australian way points are available 3. No debrief function available on iPhone 4. Unable to download video of debrief