Glass Cockpit Certified Pilot?

Keith the Pilot

I rarely post what I call “what I did on my summer vacation” entries, but today, one of my greatest joys; piloting airplanes, just got more exciting and safer for me as well as any of my passengers. I traded in my analog flight instrumentsin order to embrace the new Garmin G1000 glass cockpit. It’s a flight system that uses computer displays in the cockpit instead of a series of analog flight instruments, which translates into increased accuracy, a vast increase in situational awareness, and more useful flight information at the pilot’s fingertips.And today, I got certified at Windy City Flyers to fly this amazing aircraft.

Now, instead of getting a single, static weather briefing just before I fly, the G1000 provides weather updates every few minutes on the multi-function display (MFD). And, instead of carrying a pile of paper charts with me depicting all the airports in the area I think I might encounter, every airport in the United States is completely, and with vivid detail, integrated into the system. Traffic is also integrated into the system, providing an added layer of safety and awareness. Any plane within a 5 mile radius (as long as they’ve got their flight transponder turned on) will appear on my map, alerting me to its direction and distance above or below my plane.

Although it’s already nearly impossible to get lost in the Chicago area, it’s even more impossible to get lost with the G1000, day or night. No matter where you are, with just click a few buttons, the system will draw a big fat line to your destination, with vividly accurate maps of the world and terrain below. With a few clicks of a few buttons, the plane will even fly the any destination on its own as well. (And XM radio is integrated as well, for longer trips.)

I sneak in flying as much as I can, and unlike some other activities in my life, I do it for no other reason than the sheer joy, thrill, and sense of personal freedom it provides this rickety frame with. Ever since I was a boy, I dreamed of flying and of flying airplanes, so I don’t think the novelty will ever wear off.

I’m still in awe of how our digital reality is transforming the world we live in as well as how we interact with it every day. I resisted digital for a long time with record production, but now can’t imagine my recording studio or my music world without using Pro Tools to get me to where I want to go. I now feel the same about glass cockpits now as well; I resisted for so long, but it doesn’t make me a lazier pilot; it actually makes me an even more aware pilot, which in turn, makes me an even safer pilot.

I’ve got some photos of my flying in my Keith’s Photo Album section, and have a description of what flying means to me in my Floating in the Sea Sky entry elsewhere on this site.

Honestly, I’m still amazed when any flight club gives me the keys to one of their planes. I always look over my shoulder, waiting for someone to say; “Wait, we made a mistake…we didn’t mean to give YOU the keys to an airplane,” although I take it extremely seriously, and only take friends up when I am completely confident in my skills as a pilot. Afterall, I got a luscious, plastic and marble trophy in 2004 from the Stick & Rudder Club for coming in 2nd place in the spot-landing contest while still a student. That counts for something, doesn’t it?

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