iPad pilot’s wish list – Christmas 2013

With Christmas right around the corner, many pilots are hoping to find a new iPad accessory under the tree with their name on it. But all the jargon and all the new technology can make it awfully hard for a non-pilot to pick the right gift. To help, we’ve assembled this list of the most popular iPad gifts for 2013. We recommend leaving it in a conspicuous location, or if all else fails, take matters into your own hands and buy a gift for yourself.

Garmin D2 Pilot Watch

The Garmin D2 Pilot Watch can connect with the Garmin Pilot app for flight plans.

10. Charger – While it may not be exciting, a cigarette lighter charger is probably the most important iPad accessory you can own. But be careful: a cheap USB plug won’t work for the iPad, so make sure to get a 2.1 amp charger. Better yet, get a dual 2.1 amp charger that works with both an iPad and an ADS-B receiver. Shop Now

9. Stylus – Not everyone likes to use a stylus, but for those who do prefer to hold something rather than use their finger, this compact and durable stylus is a great option. It’s a nice upgrade from the giveaway stylus you picked up at the last conference, and is a reliable way to copy clearances or mark up approach plates. Plus, there’s a surprise: it includes a high quality ink pen in the cap, so it works for paper or screen. Shop Now

8. Screen protector – Screen protectors are one of the most useful accessories for the iPad, and they come in two varieties: quick on/off and anti-glare. The first style goes on in seconds, with no glue and no bubbles, making it the easiest to use. It’s mostly for protecting the screen from scratches. The second style is a traditional screen protector that more permanently sticks on, but it’s by far the best we’ve ever seen at reducing screen glare (and we’ve tried dozens). It’s not magic, but it does a respectable job of cutting glare–a must for low wing airplanes in particular. Shop Now

7. Flight bag – The iPad has fundamentally changed what most pilots carry: a single tablet has replaced stacks of paper charts, paper manuals and so much more. That means your old flight bag is probably outdated (and most likely too big). Fortunately, a new crop of flight bags is tailored to iPad pilots, with slimmer sizes and lots of iPad-specific pockets. Shop Now

6. Backup battery – This little battery pack is our nominee for most under-appreciated iPad accessory. For under $100, you have a “get out of jail free” card with you at all times. Simply charge it up and plug in up to five devices–it more than doubles the battery life of your iPad, and does not require a cigarette lighter or a wall plug. You’ll find dozens of uses for this, and not just in the cockpit. Shop Now

Stratus 2

Stratus 2, the best-selling ADS-B receiver, works with ForeFlight Mobile.

5. Garmin D2 Pilot Watch – One of the most interesting gadgets to hit the market in the past few years, this multi-function GPS watch is useful all on its own. But pair it to your iPad running the Garmin Pilot app and it can do even more, including loading complicated flight plans from the app. The watch features a built-in database, nearest airport and direct-to navigation, among many other features. Shop Now

4. Mount – A mount is a must-have accessory for many pilots, and with the new iPad Mini and iPad Air, a lot of pilots are in the market for a new one. The most popular options are the Yoke Mount and Suction Cup Mount, both of which are available for the Mini and full size iPad. There aren’t any iPad Air-specific mounts yet, but the spring-loaded mounts work with the latest Apple tablet. Shop Now

3. Kneeboard – If you don’t like a mount the other option is a kneeboard, and there are plenty to choose from. Roughly, there are four main styles: basic leg strap, bi-fold kneeboard, deluxe leather case and hard-sided flip kneeboard. All are excellent for keeping your iPad stable on your leg; it’s mostly a matter of deciding how much more you want the kneeboard to do. For example, do you like to write on paper? Some bi-fold kneeboards and the hard-sided designs include a clipboard for paper and pen. Do you fly an airplane with a center stick? A basic leg strap is probably all you have room for. Shop Now

2. Deluxe iPad GPS – iPad GPSs have been a top accessory for a while now, but there’s a new crop of higher end GPSs that add some exciting new features. Both the Bad Elf Pro and the Dual Electronics XGPS160 SkyPro allow you to connect up to 5 devices to the same GPS, ideal for two pilot cockpits or for using your phone and iPad. Both also include data loggers, and the Bad Elf even has a built-in screen for basic GPS performance data. These are outsanding GPSs, and our first choice for a reliable iPad moving map. Shop Now

1. ADS-B Receiver – Portable boxes capable of receiving the FAA’s free ADS-B weather data were the hottest product in 2012, and that’s still true in 2013. If anything, ADS-B receivers are even more popular now, as they’ve grown far beyond simply GPS and weather receivers. New models like the Stratus 2, which works with ForeFlight Mobile, also receive ADS-B traffic. Stratus 2 also includes a built-in AHRS, which provides backup attitude information in a separate app. These devices are now becoming the all-in-one iPad tool, and are sure to be at the top of many pilots’ wish lists. Shop Now