Back when I began to get serious about this hobby, I wanted to learn how to read all the various charts. This included understanding how to read approach, departure and airport diagrams. But I also wanted to understand how to plot a course from point A to point B using high or low altitude routes. While you certainly do not need this knowledge to fly any version of Microsoft Flight Simulator in offline mode using the built in ATC, it truly is a must when you decide you want to connect to VATSIM.
So one weekend I managed to download all the various charts I would need to fly to most destinations in the lower 48. I then printed off each chart and organized them by airport and placed each in a plastic page protector. I created a binder for approach charts, a binder for departure charts and a binder for airport charts. After all was said and done, I had 8 binders of data. When I would plan a flight I would pull the charts from the appropriate binder and utilize online sites like SimRoutes to help me tie everything together. After completing a flight, the charts (most of the time) would be placed back in their appropriate binder. I’m proud to say that this system worked for me for several years.
When I came back into the hobby, I dug out all those binders and thumbed through them. The first thing that came to mind was how outdated they probably were. Some (if not all) were 8+ years old. The second was how much time it took me to assemble all those binders. Ugh….there’s got to be a better way.
Thankfully my iPad came to the rescue. Since the birth of the iPhone and iPad, all sorts of Apps have been produced. I figured it was worth a try just to search in the Apps Store for Flight Simulator and see what hits would pop up. This is when I was introduced to FS Kneeboard. FS Kneeboard is available in both an iPad App (which I own) and a version titled FS Kneeboard Mobile for the iPhone, iPod Touch (which I do not own). While I own both an iPad and an iPhone, I only opted to purchase the FS Kneeboard for the iPad. The iPad app is available for $7.99 in the Apple iTunes Store and the cost is certainly worth the investment considering it cost me a lot more than that to put together my binders a few years ago.
The FS Kneeboard app includes all the same (but certainly updated) charts I have stuffed away in those binders. It includes 148 IFR and VFR Charts for the US and over 15,000 US digital terminal procedures. But wait….there is more. FS Kneeboard also includes current weather conditions and weather maps for all US airports (updated via NOAA) and over a dozen built-in checklists (with ability to create your own).
FS Kneeboard has certainly helped me to de-clutter my flight sim cockpit and if you own an Apple iPad, I’m confident it can help you as well.
Until next time…