An iPad by itself is useful, but the smart pilot knows that a few well-chosen accessories can transform a simple tablet into a powerful electronic flight bag. Fortunately, a robust market has sprung up to provide these accessories, with solutions for mounting, protecting, and charging a tablet in flight. The second half of 2021 has brought a steady stream of new products in this category—here’s a review.
USB-C Charging Plug
As we have written before, keeping your iPad charged is the best way to ensure it provides reliable service. One of the easiest ways to do that is to use a cigarette lighter plug with USB charging ports, but pilots should make sure those ports are higher power (2+ amps) to support a tablet. The Flight Gear dual USB charging plug has been our go-to tool here for years: it works on 12 and 24 volt systems, it offers two high amp USB plugs, and it includes a screen to monitor both volts and amps. However, many devices now come with a USB-C connection on the wall plug, so the traditional USB-A plugs won’t work. That’s why the Flight Gear Dual USB Quick Charger now comes with the option of one USB-C and one USB-A port. This is ideal for charging an iPad and an iPhone at the same time, using the stock Apple cables. More and more devices will transition to USB-C as time goes by, so we expect this to become the default option.
MyGoFlight’s line of screen protectors for phones and tablets, called ArmorGlas, has been a popular option for nearly a decade. The solid sheet of glass protects the screen from scratches and also cuts glare, but without interfering with the touchscreen performance. It’s easy to put on with no bubbles, and is thin enough to work with most mounts and kneeboards. The company recently released new versions for the latest Apple products, including the iPhone 13/Pro/Pro Max/Mini and the iPad mini 6.
Bush Pilot Flight Bag
Flight Outfitters has won a loyal following with its selection of functional and good-looking pilot accessories. The latest addition to their rugged Bush Pilot line is a a compact and thoughtfully-designed flight bag. It measures just 16″ x 9″ 10.5″ but has room for an iPad, ADS-B receiver, water bottle, kneeboard, and charging cables. It’s perfect for the iPad pilot and the tough canvas and leather construction should last for thousands of flight hours.
Sentry Replacement Mount
This is a simple accessory, but one that many pilots have been asking for. The Sentry ADS-B receiver is a very popular accessory for iPad pilots, and one reason it’s so easy to use is the simple suction cup mount that comes with it—just twist Sentry on and it locks in place. Unfortunately, if you lose that mount the standard RAM suction cup won’t work as a replacement (it’s missing the critical plastic adapter piece). Now there’s an option for an exact replacement, including the suction cup and the plastic adapter. This is also a good idea if you move between airplanes and want multiple mounts, or simply to replace your worn out suction cup.
MyGoFlight Leg Mount
The latest product from MyGoFlight is sort of a combination between a mount and a kneeboard. The Leg Mount is a sturdy leg strap and tilting arm; it connects to MyGoFlight Sport Kneeboard cases to secure your iPad to your leg. This is not an inexpensive system (the mount plus the case is over $300), but it’s a rugged, adjustable solution with a really nice magnetic leg strap. It packs a lot of features into a fairly slim design, and is perfect for pilots who might already own a MyGoFlight Sport Kneeboard.
Screen cleaning kit
Most pilots have about as many screen cleaners as flashlights, but that’s no an accident—keeping your iPad screen clean is an easy way to make charts easier to read and can even help you turn down your screen brightness (saving battery). While a regular dry cloth can work for quick cleaning, a spray is needed to completely clean that sheet of glass. We have been using the Whoosh! cleaning kit for a few months now, and really like it. The kit includes a spray bottle and microfiber cloth, conveniently stored in a resealable bag, so we just throw the whole kit in our flight bag. It removes fingerprints without scratching or damaging your screen, and is even safe for avionics.