July 1, 2008
By Ian J. Twombly
Garmin recently introduced a new handheld GPS called the GPSMAP 495. The 495 is a essentially a GPSMAP 496, without XM Weather and U.S. streets maps, making it appealing to overseas operators.
“It’s somewhat of a crossover between a [GPSMAP] 296 and a 496,” said a Garmin representative. The basic processor and features are those of the 496; the price point is more in line with the 296.
The 495 has many features now well known to Garmin handheld users. Included in the base price is SafeTaxi, a database of more than 850 taxi diagrams that shows current aircraft position on the chart; AOPA’s Airport Directory, the extensive database of airport information for more than 5,300 landing sites in the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Caribbean; Garmin’s Smart Airspace, an automatic feature that highlights airspace closer to the aircraft position; terrain information for the United States and Europe; and a panel page with an HSI and other aircraft data for situational awareness. As with the 496, buyers have the option of purchasing a unit that comes preloaded with navigation data for the Americas, the Atlantic, or the Pacific.
Having the option of the three databases is crucial because the 495 lacks one important feature of the 496—the ability to connect with XM weather. Because XM doesn’t have coverage in Alaska or the rest of the world, Garmin needed a product that had the update speed and features of the 496 with a lower price tag.
While the 495 is around $1,000 less expensive than the 496, it can never be upgraded with XM weather capability. And, with the street map upgrade kit priced at $249.99, the gap in price is significantly reduced. Price: $1,595 Contact: www.garmin.com; nationwide dealers
Trying to stay cool in a sun-soaked cockpit is a continual battle. It’s no wonder that “open door” and “open window” are the first two items on your personal after-landing checklist. The Kool Scoop is designed to make side vent windows more effective by taking the outside air and directing it onto the pilot. There’s also a version made for right-hand window vents. Open the vent window and swing the scoop forward to begin the airflow. Before takeoff, swing the scoop back to stow behind the vent window. According to maker Dorcliff-Aerocrafts, the scoop will work on most low-wing aircraft, including Piper, Mooney, and Beechcraft. Installing the scoop requires no tools and only takes a minute. Kool Scoop is a smart, inexpensive product that will make the summer months much more comfortable—at least while on the ground. Price: $31.85 Contact: www.dorcliff-aerocrafts.com; 602-740-5546
It’s been years since we last reviewed Flight Explorer, the Web-based flight-tracking program that is offered to airlines as Flight Explorer Professional, and to AOPA members at a discount as AOPA Flight Explorer Personal and AOPA Flight Explorer Pilot. In that time hundreds of innovations have been added to the program.
Flight Explorer Professional has seen most of these changes, including one that lets users monitor several flight and weather operations at once, using multiple screens. But we’re guessing that most members aren’t shopping for a service that costs $250 to $325 a month. That’s the type of thing Flight Explorer provides to various airlines and fractional ownership companies.
AOPA Flight Explorer Personal is for the individual who wants to track airplanes flying either IFR or using flight-following services. If it is in the FAA computer, you’ll see it. Improvements since we last wrote about it include overlaying TFRs on the map. Since the service is Internet-based, TFRs are added the instant they become effective. You’ll have easy online access to AOPA’s Airport Directory Online as well. The service costs $8.95 a month, a discount for AOPA members only.
It’s AOPA Flight Explorer Pilot that has learned the neatest tricks in recent years, like e-mailing your family while you are in the air, departing from your home base, or arriving at your destination. Flight Explorer is a plus when planning a flight, since the Pilot edition shows weather radar for the continental United States. It includes all the features of the Personal edition as well, and costs $17.95 a month. Price: $8.95 and $17.95 Contact: www.aopa.org/info/certified/flightexplorer.html— Alton K. Marsh
Galen Hanselman is one of the country’s foremost authorities on backcountry flying, and his new book on flying Utah’s backcountry is sure to please those familiar with his previous offerings. Part airport directory, part folk story, and part history lesson, Fly Utah! provides information on 83 backcountry strips, 57 of which have never been charted before. Fly Utah! is a two-volume set, each spiral bound and small for easy travel. The air volume has a color photograph and a descriptive drawing of every strip mentioned, along with other details, such as runway condition and hazards, slopes and gradients, and fuel availability. The ground volume is strictly a travel book, albeit informative and entertaining to read. Here readers will find information on food, local culture and attractions, and usually a history of the strip. Fly Utah! is a handy resource for those flying the Utah backcountry, and an inspiring and entertaining read for the rest of us. Price: $59.95 Contact: www.flyidaho.com; 208-788-5176
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 [email protected].
AOPA Pilot and Flight Training Editor Ian J. Twombly joined AOPA in 2003 and is an instrument flight instructor.
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