5 quick Garmin Pilot tips


The developers at Garmin have been busy over the past 18 months, adding a number of new features to their Pilot app for iPad. We’ve covered some of the advances in previous posts, like terrain alerts, data-driven maps and track up navigation. These are the core features that pilots will use most often, and they are impressive. But Garmin Pilot also has a number of less well known features that we’ve found useful on some recent flights. In this article we’ll share 5 quick tips.

  1. Use the timer feature. This little-known feature is perfect for remembering to switch fuel tanks, keeping track of total trip time or even timing instrument approaches. Tap the Tools button in the top right corner of the screen and choose Stopwatch. The best part is that the timer is visible in the top menu bar on every screen, so you can watch the moving map display and keep an eye on the time. You can pause and reset the timer from the menu bar as well, so it’s fast and easy.
    GP timer
  2. Set up alerts. Sometimes things can get hectic in the cockpit, with dynamic weather, distracting passengers and a busy radio. That’s where Garmin’s alerts feature can come in handy. Whether it’s remembering to complete a checklist or remembering to call the FBO for ground transportation, it’s easy to configure pop-up alerts to remind you. From the Tools menu, tap Alerts then the green + button. You can create an alert based on a time in the future or a location (30 miles from destination, for example). Then enter your message. When the specified time or distance is reached, a pop-up text box will appear.
    GP alert setup
  3. Use the ruler. Similar to ForeFlight’s measure tool, this is simply one of the handiest features you’ll ever use. Ever wonder how far you are from that thunderstorm, or what track you would need to fly to get to that nearby airport? Just tap on the map screen with two fingers simultaneously. A ruler will appear with a pin on each end and the track and distance will be displayed in the middle. You can stretch and shrink the ruler as you move around the map. Tap again on the map to hide the ruler.
    GP measure
  4. Select different airport weather overlays. The ability to view METAR symbols on airports sounds simple, but it’s a powerful way to get a visual sense of the weather patterns affecting your flight. Instead of reading text, seeing the areas of good and bad weather on a map is much more valuable. Garmin Pilot lets you display a wide variety of METAR data symbols, from wind information to altimeter setting to visibility. From the map layers menu (bottom left button on the Map page), select Overlays on the left side, then Weather on the right side. From there, you’ll see a small black text box in the bottom right corner of the map page that indicates which weather product is being displayed. Tap that box to choose a different weather product.
    GP weather overlay
  5. Animate radar imagery. Radar is obviously a critical feature for both pre-flight and in-flight planning, but animated radar is even better. By looping the most recent radar images, it’s easier to get a sense for both the direction of travel and the speed at which the precipitation is building or dissipating. Garmin Pilot offers animated radar when connected to the internet, but also in-flight when connected to a GDL 39 ADS-B Receiver. From the Map page, tap the play button at the bottom right corner to view the looping radar. You can even pause the looping and view each radar image individually–tap the timestamp box and a slider bar will appear.
    GP radar

As you can see, there are a lot of features packed into this app. What’s your favorite hidden feature? Add a comment below.


  1. I’m really struggling getting the charts to load on my device. They will work only when I have Wi-Fi service, which is only some times.

    Any help will be appreciated. I’m in flight school currently and I’m stuck with this device, and I am getting to a place where I really need to get this working.


    • Ben, the charts are large files, so they will only work on WiFi. They’re updated every 28 days, so find a place with WiFi and download the update, then you should be set for a month.

      • Thanks, John!
        With your help I found out how to download the charts. Now I just need to figure out how to get the GPS working on this device (Nexus 7). Any input there?

  2. Any input is greatly appreciated. I’m on a Nexus 7 that I bought brand new last week. I would return it since I’m having so many problems, but the return policy won’t let me.


  3. When will Garmin Pilot have a document management sub-application so that I can store and view my checklists. I fly a complicated aircraft with many 15-20 item checklists. With Garmin Pilot, I have to switch to another app to use the electronic-document checklists. It is time consuming and inefficient. With Foreflight, document management is part of the app. Also and in addition, adding a pilot logbook to Garmin Pilot would give it an overwhelming advantage over the other apps.

  4. I’d like to be able to see my track on approach plates as well as maps. Is that possible with Garmin Pilot and if not is it in the works.

  5. Nice app. However, I’ve lost my audio. I double checked the Ipad settings and audio for everything else works fine. If I turn the audio from off to Male or Female I don’t get the usual sample. Deleted and reloaded as well. Any advice. Surely I’m missing something.

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