iPad pilot’s wish list — Christmas 2014

5 min read

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 2014. 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.

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 2.4 amp charger. Better yet, get a dual 2.4 amp charger that works with both an iPad and an ADS-B receiver. Shop Now

Iridium Go in airplane

The Iridium Go allows you to make phone calls and send/receive text messages from your iPhone anywhere on earth.

9. Satellite hotspot – Up until recently in-flight satellite phone and data connectivity was only an option for the high-end turbine market. However, a new product from Iridium aims to change that. The GO! Satellite portable hotspot allows you to make phone calls and send text messages right from your iPhone, iPad or Android device anywhere on earth at any altitude. 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 That means your old flight bag is probably outdated (and most likely too big).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, allowing you to carry a “get out of jail free” card with you at all times. Simply charge it up and plug in up to three 2.4 amp devices simultaneously–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

5. External sensors – There are no shortage of accessories that connect to your iPad or iPhone that enhance its utility. One novel idea turns your iPhone into a portable wind meter, utilizing a small molded rotor that connects to your headphone jack and displays the readings on a dedicated app. And for those interested in keeping tabs on pulse rate and oxygen saturation when up at altitude, this small device turns your iPhone into a pulse oximeter. Shop Now

The yoke mount is a popular option for keeping the iPad secure and in easy reach.

The yoke mount is a popular option for keeping the iPad secure and in easy reach.

4. Mount – A mount is a must-have accessory for many pilots and are available in several sizes and configurations. The most popular options are the Yoke Mount and Suction Cup Mount, both of which are available for the Mini and iPad Air. For the ultimate in flexibility check out the spring-loaded mounts that allow you to quickly secure your iPad without removing your case. 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

Stratus 2 ADS-B Receiver

ADS-B receivers like the Stratus provide -n-flight subscription-free weather for ForeFlight.

1. ADS-B Receiver – Portable boxes capable of receiving the FAA’s free ADS-B weather data continue to be one of the hottest product categories in aviation. These ADS-B receivers are more popular than ever and have grown far beyond simply GPS and weather receivers. Portable models like the Stratus 2, which works with ForeFlight, also receive ADS-B traffic. Stratus 2 includes a built-in AHRS, which provides backup attitude information in a split-screen attitude and flight instrument view in ForeFlight. Stratus 2 also recently added a flight data recording feature, allowing you capture your in-flight data for review back on the ground. These devices have set the standard for subscription-free in-flight weather, and are sure to be at the top of many pilots’ wish lists. Shop Now