The wonder of the moving map

July 7, 2014

It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of the moving map and that OzRunways is my weapon of choice. It wasn’t until I had a communications failure, however, that I really learned to appreciate its true wonder.

The paper maps on my lap were there for the purpose of practising dead reckoning, with lines drawn and times marked. A tried and tested method of navigating and a staple in the training syllabus of any wannabe pilot. Forthis trip, the iPad would remain stowed in the C172’s side pocket along with the maintenance release and operating manual. Of course, we are allowed to have a bit of fun, so we tested the geo-taxi function of the OzRunways application while taxiing.

The controller vectored us into and through their restricted airspace and tracked us on radar with pin-point accuracy. The bold pencil line on my map isn’t exactly precise, though headings, speed and heights were accurate so I was confident I was adhering to Amberely’s requirements.

What happened next had us reaching for the iPad!

Everything had gone pear-shaped and at the worst possible time, in an active military restricted zone. A puff of smoke and a dead radio stack had left us flying blind. Luckily, the iPad, loaded with OzRunways, was ready and waiting to help guide us through and safely out of the restricted airspace. The current VTC appeared vividly on the iPad’s brilliant display and we skimmed the bold red boundary lines with astounding accuracy.

The physical ERSA was in my flight bag, though, with a few touches of the EFB, we had access to Archerfield’s radio failure procedures and anything else we needed in a hurry.

Lesson learned: Learning to fly (and flying in general) isn’t about mastering one method of navigation; it’s about learning to efficiently use all resources you have available, whether it’s maps, navaids, GPS or EFBs, they all have their place in the cockpit and it’s important to know them all inside out.

In this situation, paper maps would have been fine, though the iPad certainly aided in easing cockpit workload and allowed me to focus my attention on what was outside the aircraft and to get us home safely.

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