Dec 2010 Greg Kress

Hello, this is Greg Kress reporting on the use of my new Skyradar receiver and software.  I am an aeronautical engineer, private pilot, and aviation been my life for over 30 years.

First of all, I want to thank you for the free return next day shipping to exchange my receiver.  Sorry that it ended up just being the power cord, but I appreciate the “next day” return shipment.  I would like to take a few minutes to provide some feedback on the use of the equipment.

I would like to mention that I use my C172 primarily for business to commute between Atlanta, GA and Pensacola, FL.  With my frequent business trips in the Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Tennessee, North and South Carolina, and annual flights to Oshkosh and Sun-N-Fun, I log between 200 and 250 hours a year.  I consider myself a wise and knowledgeable pilot, I easily resist the “get home-it is” urge to fly in bad weather, but I do fly in less than desirable weather by using preflight weather reports, in-air Flight Following, and am in constant communication with air traffic controllers and FSS who have always been excellent in providing guidance on the current weather.  However, flying at night makes it nearly impossible to see and avoid rain, and even in the day certain conditions make it very difficult to fly safely.

I have always resisted subscribing to XM weather, since it would require that I upgrade my yoke-mount GPS, in addition to the expense of the $34.99 to $54.99 monthly subscription.  Many of my pilot friends who annually fly much less than I do, and seldom ever in less than desirable weather, who are XM subscribers have been telling me or years that if anyone should be willing to pay for XM Weather, it would be me.  As a matter of principle and owing to my pilot skills, I have resisted an in-cockpit weather service.

At Oskosh 2010, I decided that I would breakdown and finally purchase something that would allow me to receive weather updates in the cockpit. I was shopping for an XM capable GPS, when someone told me about ADS-B and directed me to your booth.  You may not remember, but after hearing your presentation, I went to find a pilot friend of mine, who is also pilot for a major Atlanta-based airlines, and own and flies has a Twin Comanche.  He is a very skeptical consumer, so I asked him to return with me to your booth and convince me why I shouldn’t buy your system, despite how good you made it sound.  His exact words were, “This equipment is amazing and will put XM out of business within 5 years.”

You convinced him, so I made the purchase.  It has been a few months since Oshkosh, but the receiver finally showed up via FedEx, and I purchased my iPad.  Last night was my first flight with the receiver and iPad fully operational.  I was flying from Pensacola back to Atlanta with a co-worker of mine.   By the time we reached 1000’ AGL we noticed the WAAS indication, time since the last NEXRAD download indication, and the FIS-B indication popped up on the screen.  Before we realized it, there METAR circles showing up everywhere.  We quickly discovered that the co-located blue dots meant that wind information was available at those locations.  We were almost hoping that there was some bad weather out there so we could see some good NEXRAD displays showing up, but the skies were clear for the entire flight.  We were not receiving any TIS-B traffic because I believe that the FAA has not implement this broadcast in our flight area.  We worked with the system for the entire 2 hour flight.

Our only wish, would be that the Skyradar software have FAA sectional overlay.  Although the surrounding airports, MOA’s, Class C, and Class D airspace boundaries were readily displayed, it would be nice to pull up a chart overlay.

In closing I just want to say that I could not be more please with my choice in purchasing the Skyradar receiver.  I cannot think of any negative attributes at all.  All of your future customers need to realize there are three major benefits:

  • The combined purchase of the receiver and iPad is less than a comparable GPS with XM capability.
  • There are no monthly service fees to receive the ADS-B service.
  • Owning an iPad has many more amazing benefits for the pilot with all of the available aviation related apps.

On one last note, I would recommend that the purchaser pay the extra expense to get a 32G iPad with 3G service, which is what I have.  I was told that only the iPad with 3G service comes with a built-in GPS (which does not require that 3G be activated or running to use).  I know that your Skyradar has (and needs) it own GPS puck.  However, if a pilot is using the Skyradar app, without the receiver plugged in and operating, the iPad will use its own GPS to update the aircraft’s position with Skyradar.