Three simple apps for pilots to try

2 min read

Most pilots are “married” to an electronic flight bag app like ForeFlight, Garmin Pilot, or WingX. These all-in-one apps really are miraculous, serving as a digital co-pilot and answering almost any question a pilot might have. But sometimes less is more. For a full weather briefing, we would open up our favorite EFB app; for a quick check of the radar, a simple app like MyRadar might be faster and easier. With that in mind, here are three simple, inexpensive apps we’ve been using lately that are worth trying.

Zulu Time

Pilots live by Zulu time, whether it’s decoding METARs or writing down IFR clearance void times. Calculating this isn’t hard for your home time zone, but sometimes things get complicated if you’re on the other side of the country. That’s where this app comes in—once you set up the time zones you want to display, there is no chance of making a mistake. It uses your iPad’s built-in clock to stay in sync, and can display multiple time zones at once. Two features we really like: it works great in split screen, so you can run it next to your favorite EFB app, and it has a solid Apple Watch app with a complication. Zulu Time is available for 99 cents on the App Store.


There are plenty of ways to compute crosswind component—many EFB apps like ForeFlight will show headwind/crosswind component automatically. But this only shows you current conditions, and sometimes it’s helpful to play around with different scenarios, especially if you’re a student pilot. This app won’t win any design awards, but it’s free, easy to use, and allows you to test different wind conditions. You can also set a maximum crosswind/tailwind speed and the app will alert you in red when you’ll exceed those values. xWing is free to download on the App Store.

Flight Computer Sim

Most pilots ditch the E6B after the FAA knowledge test, but if you’re preparing for that (or if you’re a glutton for punishment) this app helps you explore the old school “whiz wheel” in all its glory. Just like the real thing, you can spin the dial and try out different problems. You can even virtually flip over the E6B and run wind correction angle calculations. It’s a helpful training tool and a reminder of how good we have it these days. Flight Computer Sim works on iPhone and iPad, and is free to download.

Do you have a favorite “simple app?” Add a comment below.

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