October 20, 2008 Leave a comment
I’ve just watched the updated edition of Flying Glass Cockpits, part of the Sporty’s Air Facts series of some 35 titles available on DVD for pilots. I’m especially interested in this particular topic, because I regularly teach a G1000 ground school, and I’m currently helping to teach a class about Technically Advanced Aircraft for new FAA inspectors.
Like many of the Air Facts titles, Flying Glass Cockpits is hosted by Richard Collins, editor emeritus at Flying Magazine. Collins has truly earned emeritus status; he’s been flying for more than 50 years, almost exclusively in light GA aircraft. More to the point, unlike many experienced aviators, he’s an old dog who continues to learn new tricks. He avidly endorses new technology and flying techniques.
Collins approaches glass cockpits (and other topics in the series) idiosyncratically. For example, he focuses on such details as how many data sources (GPS and VOR/LOC) should be displayed on the HSI simultaneously; his answer: One. He also has strong opinions about such features as autozoom on the map as the aircraft approaches a waypoint. To his credit, however, Collins often notes that the program offers an overview and discussion of a few important points and that before taking to the air in a TAA, a pilot must study the books and log at least a few hours of practice with a CFI.
In other words, don’t turn to Flying Glass Cockpits (which runs 81 minutes) for a comprehensive ground school or even a detailed discussion of specific components. Like other DVDs in the series, Flying Glass Cockpits is a overview, with pointed advice about general operating practices and key features.
If you’ve never had a chance to fly an aircraft with equipped with a G1000 (or Avidyne) system, however, Flying Glass Cockpits is a good introduction. It’s much easier to grasp the gestalt of these multi-panel, button-rich systems when you can see them in action. Feature articles in magazines (and manuals) can’t bring them to life as real-time video does.
My major complaint with Flying Glass Cockpits, and with most of the Air Facts series, is that Sporty’s doesn’t take advantage of menus, chapters, and other features available on DVDs. You’re forced to watch these programs linearly, as if they were on so-last-century VHS. You can’t jump to a specific point in the program to review particular features.