Bugged by a lack of progress in modernizing general aviation cockpits, a team of pilots with backgrounds in technology has introduced WingBug, a portable, self-contained pitot static measuring system that can provide precise flight information to the pilot via an iOS app.
About the size of your two fists put together, the battery-powered WingBug hardware can be attached under a wing or on a wing strut with a typical action camera mount. A pitot tube on the leading edge combined with the 12-hour rechargeable battery and other sensors inside provide the air data attitude heading reference system (ADAHRS) info necessary to safely fly the airplane. The data is sent via Wi-Fi to the Apple device running the app and is displayed as a conventional six-pack of instruments, including actual airspeed—an important differentiator from apps that only display groundspeed. An upcoming change to the app will also allow it to show the information more like a modern “EFIS” glass-panel display, with airspeed and altitude in a tape format, for example.
WingBug was introduced at Sun ‘n Fun this year. A product of Straight & Level Technologies, the company’s booth was a popular stop for pilots in the Aviation Gateway Park at EAA AirVenture in July.
WingBug can be used for primary information in an experimental airplane or as a backup on certified aircraft. The company points out that at $950 and just 1.3 pounds (including the iPad), the product is a good alternative to conventional instruments that cost nearly $3,800 and weigh more than six pounds, not including wiring and installation hardware. The app subscription is free the first year with the purchase of the hardware.
The system can easily be moved between airplanes, which can be a handy feature for flight instructors because the app also records the flight parameters in a KML file format. With that, the student or instructor can replay the flight via CloudAhoy or Google Earth, a good debriefing tool.