The number of dedicated iPad apps has exploded over the past 4 years, going from 5,000 in the spring of 2010 to nearly 500,000 available in the app store today. The growth in aviation apps has followed the same trend, making it often difficult to sort out the good from the bad. To help out with that process the Editors of iPad Pilot News got together and looked at what apps we use most often, based on our flight experiences in everything from LSAs and Cessna 172s, to helicopters and jets.
We’ve focused a lot of attention over the course of many articles on this site on covering what we consider the top 3 flight planning/navigation apps in ForeFlight, Garmin Pilot and WingX Pro. Here though we want to look at some of the other apps that we think add great utility to your iPad when flying. In no particular order here are our favorite apps for 2013:
Weight and Balance / Performance: Gyronimo
The Gyronimo performance apps lead the pack among apps that compute aircraft-specific performance data. They provide a graphically-rich interface that computes weight and balance, takeoff, climb, cruise and landing performance. They’re fun to use and at the same time help you understand how different variables affect your calculations.
Weather: WSI Pilotbrief Optima
WSI is one of the leading weather technology and analysis companies in the world, and you can also access their powerful weather and planning tools in a powerful app. While the WSI subscriptions aren’t cheap, there are some exclusive features here that are worth paying a premium for, especially if you’re flying internationally.
NEXRAD Radar: MyRadar
There are hundreds of radar apps available in the app store, and the clear winner in our book is MyRadar. We like this app because it loads and loops the radar almost instantly, and allows you to overlay aviation layers like flight plan routes and AIRMETs.
Flight Track Recording: CloudAhoy
CloudAhoy uses your iPad’s GPS and records all the details of your flight, and allows you to replay it later with 2D and 3D flight analysis tools and satellite imagery or aviation charts. While it’s not free, we think the annual subscription free is worth it to take advantage of this app’s powerful features.
Flight Tracking: FlightAware
Like the website, the Flight Aware app is the best place to get live flight tracking and flight status on both airline and GA flights. The map tools allow you to view past flight paths, and you can even see your flight path along with a replay of the NEXRAD radar imagery that was around you.
Charts on a budget: FltPlan.com Go
The free FltPlan.com Go app provides airport data and VFR and IFR charts for the US. While it’s not as capable as the other fully-feature nav/wx apps, it can serve as a good app to use as a backup on secondary devices. We really like it for its ability to load and save navlogs when filing and flight planning with the fltplan.com website.
International Charts: SkyDemon
There are limited options for pilots looking for aviation charts when flying in Europe, and there is none better than SkyDemon. This has full aviation chart and GPS navigation capabilities, and even a few powerful features we’d like to see in the big US nav/wx apps.
Flight Computer: Sporty’s E6B
Sporty’s handheld electronic E6B has long been the standard among pilots for flight planning and performing in-flight calculations. All of the calculator’s functions and conversions are available in this iPhone/iPad app, along with aviation timers and a powerful weight and balance function.
Logbook: LogTen Pro
The iPad serves as an excellent platform for digital logbooks, and our favorite here is LogTen Pro. With an intuitive interface and powerful tracking, data reporting and reminders features, this is a great app for pilots of all skill levels.
Private Pilot Training: Learn to Fly Course
This comprehensive training course contains over 15 hours of engaging video and animations to teach pilots all about real-world flying. Also includes a test preparation module to study FAA test questions and take practice tests. After viewing all the video and completing the test prep sections, the course provides the required endorsement take the FAA knowledge test. A similar style Instrument Rating course is also available.
Pilot Proficiency: PilotWorkshops
Geared towards IFR pilots, this app provides great content for pilots to stay current on topics like IFR weather, emergencies, instrument flying and more. The in-app purchase options allow you to buy only the content you’re interested in.
Best “I Can’t Believe My iPad Can Do That” App: Cloud Topper
This is one of those apps that makes great use of iPad features for which they weren’t intended. The app uses the camera, gyroscope and accelerometer to help you visually determine if you will clear a cloud top at your current altitude, or determine the heights of other nearby clouds.
What are your favorite apps? Let us know in the comments below.