There are thousands of apps that are useful for pilots, from flight training and weather briefings to calculators and games. With that in mind, compiling a list of the top apps may seem foolish, but once again we’re going to try—after all, a brand-new iPad pilot needs to start somewhere. The list below isn’t necessarily our 20 favorite apps, but rather the ones we see in use most often, and are worth considering for any pilot’s tablet:
1. ForeFlight Mobile This is the app that has, probably more than any other, come to define the iPad era in aviation. The all-in-one pre-flight and in-flight product includes moving maps, approach charts, terrain awareness, weather graphics, weight and balance, flight plan filing, a digital logbook, flight playback, and a whole lot more. It has replaced paper charts and portable GPSs for a lot of pilots, especially as products like the Sentry and Stratus ADS-B receivers and the Garmin GDL 52 SiriusXM receiver have come onto the market.
2. Garmin Pilot Garmin practically invented portable navigation products for pilots, and while those aren’t as popular as they once were, the avionics giant hasn’t ceded the category. This impressive app has continued to evolve over the years and now includes many of the same features as ForeFlight, plus Garmin GTN-style menus, powerful split-screen options, and deep integration with Garmin panel-mount avionics. It’s also available on Android.
3. MyRadar. This free app is simple, but it’s fast and easy to use. MyRadar shows looping NEXRAD radar for the entire US that is easy to zoom in on – perfect for pre-flight weather briefings. It even includes some nice aviation features, like TFRs, AIR/SIGMET overlay and route overlays based on N-numbers. We’ve seen everyone from airline pilots to glider pilots use this app.
4. Sporty’s Pilot Training Flight training is hot right now, and fortunately, modern technology makes it much more convenient to learn at home than in a boring ground school. This all-in-one training app from Sporty’s includes 30 aviation video and test prep courses, including Private Pilot, Instrument Rating, Garmin G1000, Flight Review and other aircraft and avionics transition courses. It’s also available on Android.
5. StationWeather. This app is dedicated to a clean, graphical view of METARs, TAFs and NOTAMs and is perfect for a quick look at the latest text weather from your iPhone or iPad. Our favorite feature though is the ability to add extra-large weather widgets for METARs and TAFs to the iPad’s home screen. It also includes the most useful Apple Watch app that we’ve seen.
6. FlightAware The internet has made it easy to track airplanes in flight, both airline and general aviation, and there are plenty of good tracking apps available. FlightAware is one of the most popular, with a good mix of features and convenience. Want to see if your friend has landed? Want to see how big your weather diversion was? This free app makes it easy to do that and more. If you sign up for an account, you can even track your own airplane (if it’s ADS-B Out equipped) when it’s flying VFR.
7. Infinite Flight This flight simulator app was designed specifically for iPad and iPhone. Explore high-definition scenery in regions from around the world in a wide variety of detailed aircraft. You can join a multiplayer experience and customize each flight by choosing your time of day, weather conditions, and aircraft weight configuration. It also interfaces with ForeFlight and Garmin Pilot for a more realistic training experience.
8. ForeFlight Passenger This free app is a companion to the main ForeFlight EFB app, and it answers a common question: “when will we get there?” When connected to another device in the cockpit running ForeFlight, this simple app shows the route, airplane position, altitude and time remaining. Definitely worth trying out if you frequently fly with the same passengers.
9. Sporty’s E6B The good old-fashioned whiz wheel can rest in peace – the iPhone or iPad makes it much easier to do performance or weight and balance calculations. This $9.99 app does all that plus conversions, timer features and basic arithmetic. Just don’t try to take it to your FAA written exam. The iOS app works on iPad, iPhone and Apple Watch, and E6B is also available on Android.
10. CloudAhoy This app is a lot of fun and a useful tool for pilots of all levels to analyze and debrief their flights. Simply open the app and begin tracking (or use a Stratus or ForeFlight tracklog or G1000 flight data recorder). In addition to playing back your flight over a satellite map or an aviation chart, CloudAhoy will score the flight and its various segments to give you an objective analysis of your performance. It can even debrief your instrument flying, to analyze and help improve your ILS approaches.
11. FlyQ EFB In addition to serving as a full-featured aviation flight planning and navigation app, FlyQ offers unique features like 4D predictive weather and an exclusive augmented reality feature that overlays the location of airports on a live view of the outside world using your device’s camera.
12. LiveATC Air Radio Pilots use this app every day to improve their communication skills or just listen in on Air Traffic Control from around the world. It’s surprisingly fun and addictive, especially for big events like Oshkosh or the Super Bowl.
13. LogTen Pro A logbook app makes it a lot faster and easier to keep track of currency, and it’s almost a requirement for aspiring airline pilots. LogTen Pro is one of the most powerful logbook apps we’ve seen, with a ton of customization options, airline schedule interfaces, and plenty of automated reports. It’s not cheap, but it’s worth it for an active pilot.
14. AOPA This all-in-one app from aviation’s largest pilot organization includes dozens of features, from articles to planning tools. But the Pilot Passport feature is particularly interesting for pilots. It offers a wide variety of events and activities, offering inspiration for your next flight, and helps you keep track of where you’ve been. You can use the badge system to set goals and celebrate new achievements.
15. X-Plane Laminar Research has offered a powerful desktop flight simulator for many years, but they’ve also been a leader in mobile simulation. While the X-Plane app may not allow you to log time, it’s a surprisingly realistic tool for training on procedures, with a variety of airplanes, cockpits and weather options.
16. FltPlan Go The free FltPlan.com website continues to be a popular flight planning service for corporate aviation. This free companion app allows you to retrieve and store your navlogs and weather briefings and includes FAA charts, moving map navigation, checklists, weather imagery and more. It has slowly evolved into a complete Electronic Flight Bag (EFB) app. It’s our top pick for a free EFB app, and is also available on Android.
17.Skytimer An easy-to-use app that makes logging trips and tracking fuel burn as easy as tapping a button. The app will track total time, time out, time off, and time on each fuel tank. Using the fuel burn you entered when creating an aircraft profile, SkyTimer offers updated endurance estimates, fuel load in each tank, and total fuel burn. Additionally, SkyTimer has a full-featured Apple Watch app that works with or without your iPhone nearby.
18. SkyDemon This app is a pilot favorite in Europe and provides full flight planning, aeronautical chart and GPS navigation features. It also provides intelligent warnings to keep you clear of of approaching airspace, terrain and obstacles.
19. Cloud Topper What if you could tell in advance whether or not your current altitude was high enough to clear the tops? That’s the purpose of one of our long-time favorite iPhone/iPad apps called Cloud Topper Using your iPhone or iPad’s internal camera, gyro and accelerometers, the app helps you hold the device level and displays guides on the screen to help you gauge whether or not your current flight path will clear the tops.
20. RadarScope For real weather geeks, this app is hard to beat. It goes far beyond a basic radar map, with a whole slew of options for viewing NEXRAD radar. You can compare base and composite reflectivity, look at individual radar sites, and overlay lightning data. For storm season, it’s a great tool.
So there’s our list of the top 20 apps for pilots. Some are free, some are paid, but all have something to offer for pilots. This list is far from complete – there are dozens of other great apps out there in addition to these. What’s your top 20? Add a comment below.
For a comprehensive list of aviation apps, check out our Pilot’s Aviation App Directory.