The other night I flew a dual cross country to Allentown, PA. This flight was pretty straight forward and the weather was perfectly clear. We departed Caldwell and requested flight following to Allentown. Then I tracked the Broadway VOR to and from to get to Allentown. This was my first class charlie airport so the communication was a bit different. What made it easier is that flight following automatically handed us off to Allentown approach control. Then we announced our intentions and were handed off to the tower. The tower gave us runway 24 and we entered the pattern. The landing was no problem we made the first turn off and then taxied back to take off again. We did the same thing on the way back. Flying at night is very cool but it does make it a bit harder to find an airport in a city area. I learned that knowing what the beacon looks like and its timing makes it easier to find later on.
When the time came to start planning cross countries I started searching online for planning sheets. I found some on Sporty’s and other websites that you can buy pads of sheets. But of course not wanting to spend money on something I could easily find online I began searching. I quickly came across an excellent source of several different navigation logs. They are available on Dauntless Soft.
If there is one thing that I learned rather quickly its that losing your bearings is pretty easy up there. Even on a nice VFR day I found that most highways and ponds look alike in the densely populated areas I fly in. I have of course gotten better with my airport’s surroundings but wanted something that can help me on some future flying once I get my ticket. I started my initial flight training in a 1981 Cessna 172P, this was your typical no frills school plane. It was IFR equipped but did not have GPS. Being a gadget geek I immediately started looking for a portable hand held GPS I could have in my bag, ready to go should the moment ever arise.
What I decided on was the Garmin GPSMAP 96C. It is a portable aviation GPS with enough features to get me where I need to go but also not terribly expensive. It features a 1.5″x2.2″ 256 color non-touch screen and the standard Garmin directional pad. The unit itself is powered by two AA batteries and comes with the standard cigarette style plug for the plane. It also includes a yoke mount. I found the yoke mount to be very good, however it will get in the way of newer skyhawks that have the factory clip mount on the yoke. If you have used other Garmin products then the interface will be quite familiar. It is operated by scrolling through pages of information.