Accurate time keeping is a vital part of a pilot’s training at all stages, though sometimes simply knowing the time isn’t enough. Having the ability to measure time elapsed sometimes becomes just as important. Now, to meet this need, most watches come equipped with a stopwatch function. However, stopwatches embedded in wrist watches do have their limitations and inherent problems. Size, for instance, certainly becomes a factor, not only for button pressing, but for reading displays as well.
At 500 feet above the ground surveying a landing strip, you certainly don’t want your attention taken away from outside the cockpit by playing around with a small timepiece. For this reason, large stopwatches play an important role in the cockpit. Some aircraft have this function built into the yoke, which is brilliant, however for those in 80’s era 172s, this is a luxury that was simply overlooked. For us an external stopwatch is a must. A standard sports stopwatch will well and truly do the job, though like everything in aviation, quality is a real concern and it’s not something that you want to break at a critical time in flight. While generally a little more costly, industrial grade stopwatches provide a little more piece of mind and sometimes include functions suited more to the cockpit than the football field.
One such instrument is the T1-Timer manufactured by HLP Controls, experts in the field of testing and measurement. At 65mm wide and 60mm high, the T1’s large clear display is easy to read at all angles and boasts a loud alarm, perfect for in the cockpit. It is easily set and reset and has a maximum time of 99 minutes and 59 seconds.
The Road Test
On first inspection, the T1-Timer looks like a standard kitchen timer, which technically it is. However, this timer also fits the purpose of a cockpit timer almost perfectly. The display is big and bright and is easy to read from all angles. It has three large red buttons under the main display that allow you to set, start and clear. It is a very basic timer and an understanding of an egg timer is all that is required before using this gadget in flight.
In the cockpit, the standard mountings provided with the timer aren’t ideal. It has a clip and desk stand, both of which have no place in the cockpit. To solve this, I simply applied some blutack to the back of the timer and stuck it between the radio stack and side of the six pack, ensuring it didn’t hinder the view of any instruments or radio displays. It worked perfectly!
While the iPad recorded the total time, I used the T1 to remind me of checks, waypoints etc. The audible alarm was loud enough to be heard over engine noise whilst wearing a set of Bose A20’s which was initially my greatest concern. A quick reset and you’re off again. The great thing about this timer is that once the alarm sounds, it continues to time so you know how far past your alarm time you have gone. Its rugged plastic design allows you to throw it in the flight bag without worrying about it breaking. One downside is that it doesn’t have an on/off switch and you can’t lock the buttons. Occasionally you’ll accidentally set it off while carrying the flight bag out to the plane. Not a huge issue, but can be annoying at times. All in all, it presents nicely and worked well for me in the cockpit for my purposes.
Of course, this timer is very much on the basic side, though for the budget conscious or as a start out timer, it does very nicely. This is still the timer that I use on each flight and other than for the ability to complicate things with multiple timers, I have no need to upgrade at this stage. I give this timer a three out of five for its functionality and design, knowing full well that it was not designed for aviation and to that end has some limitations in the cockpit.
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Have you used this Timer? Rate it!
1. Rugged Design 2. Great for navigation timing 3. Excellent battery life 4. Large, bright display
1. No aviation mount out of the box 2. No on/off or hold switch 3. Only one timer 4. No alarm volume control