5 lesser-known aviation apps to consider

So much of the news and excitement about aviation apps these days focuses on the big, all-in-one apps: ForeFlight, Garmin Pilot and WingX. While these are incredible apps, they aren’t the only ones a pilot should have – if for no other reason than you might carry an iPhone that can be put to use too. We polled a group of pilots about some other apps they use regularly and came up with five interesting ones that don’t make a lot of headlines.

Share Aviation

This new app aims to be a sort of “Facebook for pilots,” with strong social networking features like photo sharing, status updates and check ins. A recent partnership with AOPA has lent this app some credibility, and grown its user base. It’s a fun way to meet local pilots and share your passion for flying – after all, your Facebook friends may not appreciate how cool it is to shoot the ILS 21L down to 200 and 1/2. The app is free, and offers separate versions for iPad and iPhone.

Share Aviation app

Zulu Time

Sure, keeping track of zulu time (or GMT) isn’t that hard, but if you travel across time zones a lot you can mess up your math pretty quickly. This simple app does exactly what its name suggests: shows you the current zulu time, as well as local time and another time zone of your choice. It’s a really quick and easy way to file the right time on your flight plan, or at least avoid calling your wife at 1am during that West Coast trip. The app is $0.99.

Zulu Time app

Cloud Topper

We’ve mentioned this one before, but it continues to appear on many pilots’ home screens. By using the iPhone or iPad’s built-in camera and gyro, Could Topper tells you if you’ll top that next build-up or if you need to deviate. It’s a simple app, but we’ve found it to be surprisingly useful. Just level the device and read the altitude. The app is $0.99.

CloudTopper

Spin-a-Wind

This popular app, created by an airline pilot, has been around for a while. It’s not a full-featured E6B calculator app, but in some ways that’s its strength. In particular, the app is great for finding out the crosswind component for your next takeoff or landing – in just seconds. It will also calculate humidity, wind chill and density altitude. The app costs $2.99.

Spin a Wind

LiveATC

Listening to Air Traffic Control can be both fun and educational, and LiveATC.net has been pilots’ go-to website for years. The latest version of their app is a great way to stay involved in aviation on days when you can’t fly. Listen to approach control or tower, and monitor the weather conditions right in the app. While it’s only available for iPhone, LiveATC is still a must-have app. It is available for $3.99.

Live ATC

8 replies
  1. Jack Tyler
    Jack Tyler says:

    I downloaded Cloud Topper and, like previous comments made about earlier versions, find the lack of directions frustrating. The ‘?’ icon, meant to introduce the directions screen, is dead unless one first enters a ‘Miles’ distance. Wouldn’t the user want to know how to use this before first encountering clouds? Another one of those ‘obviously easy’ apps once you know how.

  2. Jerry "Widget" Morris
    Jerry "Widget" Morris says:

    I have tp laugh at cloud topper. Ive been using a half full bottle of water for years. Hold the bottle up sideways and sight along the top of the water and instantly tell if your level, above or below a cloud.

    • Michael Wade
      Michael Wade says:

      Explain how that works again Jerry. It seems like a simple common sense solution but I am not sure I follow exactly how you hold the bottle and whether it already has a horizontal line on it. It sounds like you don’t rest in on the dashboard in a fixed position to determine straight and level or otherwise. Sounds genius though.

      Michael Wade

  3. Dave Williams
    Dave Williams says:

    I’ve been using LIVE ATC on my Android phone for years, so it isn’t just iPad/iPhone: Google Play Store
    Also it’s available for Windows 8 as an app.
    get it all from their website.

  4. Doug Du Plessis
    Doug Du Plessis says:

    For Android, I would highly recommend the FREE EFB app, Avare which can be found in the playstore. You can learn more at apps4av.org. This app is feature rich and constantly being updated and improved with community feedback for features, etc.

  5. Dr. Lee Woodriff
    Dr. Lee Woodriff says:

    Sadly not all pilots can afford the Apple universe….

    Many of my light sport students have the much less expensive android pads and smartphones…THEY NEED APPS TOO!

    Avilution Aveo Naviation and some others are comming along, but get vertically no attention, reviews or articles from the aviation press. Really a disservice to this less vocal but important segment of future fliers.

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