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Something old, something new…

As to be expected, I’ve already been on the receiving end of some good humored ribbing about using modern navigation on this trip.  My pilot friends who hail from the times when loran navigation wasn’t even a concept are razzing me about using a GPS.  They are saying, “A GPS!?  You should use an old paper map like they did when the Prince was new.”  And because the purist in me feels a twinge of guilt, I have spent more than a few minutes mulling over the decision to use satellite navigation and justifying my choice to do so.  Here are some great justifications:  1) I don’t want to get lost.  Especially when I am east of the Rockies where ground features are nil and I won’t’ always be following the roads.  Also, it can become quite hazy, reducing flight visibility and making it challenging to navigate. 2) I’ve spent years navigating solely with my finger tracing my flight path on a sectional while muttering to myself, “OK, here’s where the power line crosses that road, there should be a funny looking lake ahead, there’s those hills, now it should be right around here somehere….. oh geez where in the heck is the airport?  I should be right over it. Oh! I AM right over it”! (sigh of relief).  So I’ve more than proven to myself that I am quite adept at old school navigation.  3) And this one is embarassing; I have become quite spoiled/lazy over the years flying modern jets with satellite navigation.  It’s a nice feeling to watch your estimated time en route counting down, how much fuel will be remaining at destination, and other the other myriad details that are so relevant and constantly updated .  It relieves a lot of work and stress.  4) And dammit (this is the kicker), does anyone in their right mind think that Mr. Charles Lindbergh himself wouldn’t have opted for a GPS to supplement his way across the Atlantic?  I daresay we all know  the answer to that.

But in spite of all my justification gyrations which make taking a GPS with me seem the only logical choice, the barnstormer in me still does feel a wee bit sheepish.  Not enough obviously, but I sure hope  Richard Bach doesn’t find out.

9 responses »

  1. I am sure you will just use the GPS just to verify your navigation. After all you wouldn’t want to miss the thrill of fighting with a sectional chart in an open cockpit and no autopilot, would you? I have a mental picture of it firmly held in place and wrapped around your face while you attempt straight and level. Little kids on the ground will look up and comment on the airplane doing tricks!

  2. Oh ha, ha Bill! You really nailed that one. How true, how true. Forgot to mention the frustration and danger imposed from a map in open cockpits. Love your mental picture, I laughed out loud. You speak as if you have experienced it.

  3. Yes, Charles would have used up to date equipment. TAKE THE GPS!!!!!!!!!

  4. Not sheepish! Just smart, practical and most of all – safe! Of course every every aviator of old would have done the same thing, were it available! And, for sporting fun en route you can always put the GPS under your seat and go with chart-only nav!!

  5. But what about “borrowed” and “blue”?!?

  6. Summer… I agree with all your reasons for taking one… and all your feelings of guilt about taking one… but as you said… anyone back in the 30’s would have used it had GPS been available to them… and all those people giving you that light hearted ribbing… would ALSO be using one if they were taking this trip!

    I carry one in the RNF – with a Chart in my hand on the throttle — never know when the batteries might crap out on you — or lose a signal or whatever. I have several charts all folded up so that I don’t have to fight them in the open cockpit — just reach over and grap the next chart! Besides — the throttle creeps and before you can get the map folded (or removed from around your head) you’re now sinking due to the throttle creeping back toward idle!

    Every year when we make the trek to the National Waco Club Fly-in — there is a spot just northwest of Columbus known as the “Ohio Triangle” because none of the sections lines run east/west — they are just all over the place… and even the most accomplished map reader has been lost out there on a hazy day.

    So march along smartly girlfriend… you are doing the right thing!

  7. Why thank you ladies for the great support and sage advice (hide the GPS under the seat!). I appreciate it. I too will have my charts out as I always do, but the GPS will take a whole lot of stress out of the equation! And as for something borrowed, I have borrowed: GPS, handheld radio, and flying helmet. And the blue part? That’s easy. The sky!

  8. Summer, I’m getting my vote in for the GPS too!! Don’t know how much fuel you’re carrying but airports are few and far between for a lot of your flight so don’t want to stray off too far. No problem when you get east though, soybean fields everywhere! I know you’re heading out Sunday if the weather gods agree. I’ll be watching your Spot and anxiously waiting to see you on this end! Judy

  9. My brother always carries a map in his Waco along with the GPS. However, he goes one step further…..when the GPS batteries die and as you reach for your map and try to unfold it and it gets sucked out onto the vertical fin, he simply reaches behind himself and grabs the Rand McNally Road Map! He always flies with it tucked between his back and the seat back and has had occasion to use it.


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