Sporty's Product PIREPs

Garmin D2 Air X10 smartwatch for pilots - first impressions

Smartwatches are one of the hottest categories in the consumer electronics business, with over 100 million sold in 2021 alone. The latest model from Garmin is the D2 Air X10, which replaces the best-selling D2 Air. It retains the vivid touchscreen and pulse oximeter from its predecessor, but adds new smart assistant features so your watch can now integrate seamlessly with Siri or Google Assistant. After testing it for the last week, we think it’s the best pilot watch yet.

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Episode 18: How technology has changed flying, with Max Trescott

As one of the premier Cirrus flight instructors in the country, Max Trescott has strong opinions about pilots and technology, including: "the debate about the parachute is over" and "the autopilot is the glass cockpit." In this fast-paced episode, Max makes the case that technology has changed and pilots need to change too. He also shares tips for flying stabilized approaches, how to use an iPad to avoid terrain, and why the track vector on glass cockpits is often overlooked. In the "Ready to copy" segment, Max tells us why you're probably pouring oil into your airplane's engine the wrong way, the best part of being an independent flight instructor, and why sumping fuel doesn't guarantee you'll notice misfueling. 

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Using a portable radio as your primary radio

While the general consensus is that portable radios don’t belong as a primary source, there are still plenty of aircraft out there that don’t have radios at all. Some were manufactured without electrical systems. Others might be homebuilt ultralights or Light Sport Aircraft. The question we like to ask: “Is a portable radio setup better than no radio at all?” The resounding answer is “yes.” 

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Episode 17: Flying across the Atlantic in a Cessna, with Ian Seager

Tens of thousands of pilots fly to Oshkosh every year. Ian Seager flew his Cessna all the way from England to get there—with no autopilot! In this episode, the British writer and pilot shares what that experience was like, from the stunning views in Greenland to the frustrating paperwork. He also gives a European perspective on general aviation, including why privatized air traffic control is a disaster, how the basic instrument rating works, and what he thinks about electric airplanes replacing 100LL. In the Ready to Copy segment, Ian tells us his favorite country for flying, what the best British movie about World War II is, and why pilots should look in the mirror when thinking about safety.

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Episode 16: Bucket lists and women in aviation, with flyGIRL's Natalie Kelley

Lots of people talk about bucket lists—Natalie Kelley lives by one. At a low point in her life, she pulled out that list and decided to chase her dream of becoming a pilot. Now a flight instructor and Citation pilot, she shares her journey and explains how she overcame her doubts. She also talks about starting her company, flyGIRL, which supports women in aviation through scholarships and mentoring. In the "Ready to copy" segment, Natalie tells us what skill she learned as a mother that helped her as a pilot, how she uses social media as a positive tool, and what her first flight in a jet was like.

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Sidetone in aviation headsets: what is it and how does it work?

Pilots like to hear themselves talk. Well, at least my wife says we do. This is especially true when transmitting radio communications. This is known as sidetone. When we press the push-to-talk (PTT) switch, not only does the world get to hear my amazingly professional voice, I get to hear it too. You won’t find sidetone on cell phones or gaming headsets, but it’s common, if not expected, in aviation.

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General aviation trends for 2022

What will 2022 bring for pilots? Hopefully tailwinds and smooth rides, but as we turn the page on another busy year at Sporty’s, we thought it was the perfect time to look back at 2021 and offer some thoughts on the general aviation market, at least as we see it from Batavia, Ohio.

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Fast Five year in review—2021

Sporty's Fast Five is one of aviation's most popular email newsletters. Every Saturday morning, we deliver five interesting articles and one video to your inbox (you can sign up here). It's a quick way to stay up to date, with tips for safer flying, tricks for using the latest gear, and interesting aviation debates. We published 52 editions of Fast Five in 2021, with hundreds of articles, dozens of video tips, and even a few new product announcements. Here are some highlights.

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Episode 15: Debating "the impossible turn," with Capt. Brian Schiff

The engine just quit on takeoff—should you try to turn back to the airport? Conventional wisdom says no, but airline captain and flight instructor Brian Schiff says the truth is more complicated than that. He explains why the so-called "impossible turn" isn't so impossible, and what pilots need to practice before considering the turn-back. He also shares his advice for aspiring airline pilots, why pilots can't turn off their brain when they turn on the autopilot, and what it was like to grow up in an aviation family. In the "Ready to Copy" segment, Brian describes what it's like to fly a Category III instrument approach, his favorite business jet, and his advice for pilots taking a checkride.

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Episode 14: Busting aviation maintenance myths, with Mike Busch

There are two simple rules for improving engine longevity, says Mike Busch, and corrosion is a much bigger problem than wear. He should know—as aviation's best known mechanic, he has been leading the revolution in "reliability-centered maintenance." In this episode, Mike explains what that means, why more maintenance isn't always better, and how hot is too hot when it comes to cylinder head temperature. He also shares his views on oil additives, lean of peak operation, and owner-performed maintenance. Whether you're an experienced aircraft owner or a new student pilot, there's plenty to learn from this packed episode.

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