When I first started my flying lessons, my first instructor encouraged me to download and play with Microsoft Flight Simulator to help me grasp some of the concepts of flight. Growth in smartphone and tablet use has matched an explosion of instrument simulation apps. Below are five apps that cover different areas of flight. These are not endorsements of any app.
- Holding Pattern Trainer ($3.99 in iTunes, $3.99 in Google Play )—This smartphone and tablet app is designed to help instrument students learn holding patterns and pattern entries, and allows you to practice directly on your device.
- ILS Trainer ($9.99 in iTunes)—Designed for the iPhone and iPad, this app creates virtual ILS approaches from your position to a virtual touch down zone, along with an HSI with CDI and glideslope to follow.
- Radio Navigation Simulator Student ($4.99 until March 31, in iTunes)—This iPhone/iPad app is a 2-D flight simulator that lets users practice, understand, and become proficient in the use and management of VORs, VOR-DME, and ADFs. The instruments are displayed on a realistic flight panel with full functionality. A pro version ($8.99) allows flight instructors to demonstrate radio navigation techniques, and for students to consolidate and self test.
- Flying the Aspen Evolution ($19.99 in iTunes)—Developed by Sporty’s, this iPhone/iPad video app teaches users everything they need to know when flying a glass cockpit. The app has seven video segments that use animation, in-flight video, and real-world tips and tricks.
- Navigator - Aviation Instrument Training ($4.99 in iTunes)—Users can better understand standard aircraft navigation instruments. In “learn mode,” users can rotate items to see how instruments respond. In “test mode,” maps go into random configuration and users must figure out where an aircraft is.
I need to make a clarification from my March 13 column on student pilot apps. The PilotFAR/AIM is free to download and includes all of the Aeronautical Information Manual, the Pilot/Controller Glossary, and CFR Parts 1 and 91. But to access all of the CFR, users need to either buy a $6.99 subscription or a one-time update via in-app purchase for $5.
Meanwhile, I need to hear from my Android users. Please send your recommendations here. And for my aviation apps developers, now is a great time to send in your product for an upcoming column. The complete list of apps I’ve reviewed since October 2012 is in AOPA’s online archive.