Should pilots get an iPad or an iPad Mini?

iPad Mini for pilots

The iPad Mini is scheduled to ship on November 2 and should provide pilots with a whole new level of information and apps to use in the cockpit but if you don’t yet have an iPad to use in the cockpit, might now be the time to start thinking about getting one? Moreover, should pilots go for an iPad or an iPad Mini?

To begin with, AVweb’s Paul Bertorelli recently conducted a podcast interview with Foreflight’s Tyson Weihs about the iPad Mini and it was noted that everything will scale automatically downward in the new device with the pixels being the same. Hence, Weihs said that there is nothing extra that Foreflight needs to do to get their app to work on the iPad Mini and that’s probably true with all the other iPad aviation apps out there. That means it also sounds like the only real difference between an iPad and an iPad Mini for pilots will be its size (plus any performance issues that become apparent after the latter’s release).

In addition, Sporty’s Pilot Shop’s Vice President John Zimmerman recently gave a seminar entitled “iPad 101” at the AOPA Aviation Summit a few weeks ago and there is a summary of his talk posted here. Some of John’s key points included buying what you use and that budget conscious buyers who don’t need all of the “bells and whistles” offered by the iPad 3 should find the iPad 2 to be sufficient.

John then noted some of the iPad’s limitations in the cockpit, namely glare and the fact that the device can overheat. However, tilting the iPad screen can usually solve the glare problem while not leaving the device in direct sunlight will help prevent it from overheating. John also added that you should make sure everything is up-to-date, downloaded and the battery is fully charged before a flight so that you don’t find yourself stuck in the air lacking important flight information or worst – no flight information at all because your battery is dead. Likewise, John gave some very specific instructions for how to avoid GPS interference (usually by turning on “Airplane Mode”) that are a must read for any pilot who has an iPad but has concerns about using one in the cockpit.

If you still aren’t convinced about the whole iPad as an electronic flight bag idea, you might want to just borrow one and go flying. John also added that most flight apps are either free or come with a 30 day free trial for you to test them out before committing to buy.

Finally, it should be mentioned that Sporty’s Pilot Shop recently hosted an hour long webinar on Advanced iPad Flying that’s well worth listening too as its full of useful tips for using the iPad in the cockpit.

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