December 1, 2008
By Ian J. Twombly
Imagine never having to hump 10 pounds of flight training books back and forth to your lessons. Sporty’s Pilot Shop has made that possible with its new online training courses.
Sporty’s has a reputation for producing high-quality videos, in terms of both content and production. The new online courses continue in that mold. The courses contain the same information as the popular series of DVDs, but in an easy-to-use, completely interactive, and convenient format.
Currently Sporty’s is offering online recreational pilot, private pilot, transition to private, and instrument rating courses. Each one has the same basic elements. The courses are completely online, meaning no need to download or install, carry any other paper, or even work on one computer. Each includes a section of training videos, an interactive maneuvers guide, knowledge test preparation, a training course outline (syllabus), and interactive practical test standards (PTS). There’s also a section of links and a form to fill out for a knowledge test endorsement that Sporty’s will provide upon completion of the knowledge test preparation.
The course maintains the same basic format on the screen, regardless of which element is in use. That means buttons with direct links to the other sections are always present. Start with the course outline. Here you and your instructor can fill in the time spent on each task. Your progress is automatically saved. Then click on a link to the streaming video training section or interactive maneuvers guide applicable to the lesson at hand. With the click of a button, you can be studying for the knowledge test. There’s also a blank window where you can takes notes and print them out at will.
The interactive PTS is one of the more interesting and useful parts of the course. Student and instructor can work on the course and go through each maneuver step by step. Each entry has a direct link to the associated video section that illustrates the maneuver, making the demonstration only a click away.
For convenience, ease of use, and good information, Sporty’s new online courses are a sure bet. For those who can’t wait to begin learning, the best part is that you can pay today, use today. Price: private $199; recreational $99; transition to private $99; instrument rating $249 Contact: Sporty’s Web site; 800-776-7897
If fingerprints and dust are a constant annoyance on modern LCD avionics displays, carry a bottle of Aero 600 Avionics Cleaner. Simply spray it on a soft cloth and wipe. The company’s “secret formula” contains no alcohol or ammonia and is non-toxic, so damage isn’t a concern. In testing, we found it to be completely streak free and it didn’t leave a film. The small 4-ounce bottle cleans everything from GPS displays to laptop screens and sunglasses. Keep a bottle of Aero 600 in your airplane or flight bag and you’ll never have to worry about dirty screens again. Price: $14.99 Contact: Aero 600 Web site; 413-229-9042
For those in the northern latitudes where winter flying means ski flying, Trickair now has TSO and STC approval for numerous aircraft models, including Maule, Cessna, Piper, and American Champion. The company’s three different models of wheel-penetrating skis take approximately eight hours to install, after which they can be removed or reinstalled in 15 minutes per ski. The skis are available in a white or sandable gray finish, and are constructed of fiberglass. They weigh anywhere from 20 to 57 pounds per ski, depending on the model. Price: $6,095 to $7,395 Contact: Trickair Web site; 800-374-4237
Looking for a new view-limiting device for instrument training? If so, check out Blockalls. The new glasses are light, comfortable, stylish, and durable. Various testers found Blockalls to be superior to some existing products on the market because of the view-limiting device’s fit and finish. Blockalls are essentially a pair of stylish safety glasses (and no, that’s not an oxymoron) with a colored coating over most of the viewable area. Eight different colors are available, including green, red, black, and pink. Blockalls feature soft rubber nose pads and a stem with a soft, flexible rubber end. That makes putting the glasses on and taking them off easy, and wearing them is comfortable—even with a headset. Each pair comes with a plastic case to protect them in a flight bag. Price: $23.95 Contact: Blockalls Web site; 239-222-3588
Unless otherwise stated, products listed have not been evaluated by AOPA Pilot editors. AOPA assumes no responsibility for products or services listed or for claims or actions by manufacturers or vendors. However, members unable to get satisfaction regarding products listed should advise AOPA. To submit products for evaluation, contact the products editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Flight Training Editor Ian J. Twombly joined AOPA in 2003 and is an instrument flight instructor.
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