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Winging It! With Dr. Paul


"Any idea where we are?" I asked Will, a while after takeoff. I had gone winging with Will Waypoint one weekend, a half-hour hop over the hill to our favorite hofbrau. Enroute, he was treating me to a demonstration of his brand-new Super-LORAN. Navigation will never be the same!

Toni Wakes drawing "Here," said Will, and punched a button. The top line of his LORAN display flashed latitude and longitude. The second line showed our distance and bearing from the nearest VOR. Line three displayed our position and groundspeed from our point of departure, while the fourth line gave us similar information, plus ETA, with respect to our intended destination. I went into instant information overload, and reached for a Sectional.

"Put your charts away," was Will's curt command. He punched a second button. Suddenly a color CRT in the middle of the panel came alive with a moving map, centered on our position. As we turned, so rotated the chart; we were always looking straight ahead!

I remarked on the labor saving aspects of such a system, and Will replied that the savings in time and fuel were the more significant. "After all," he reminded me, "the straightest distance between two lines is a short point."

The airport symbols on screen, magenta and blue, appeared devoid of data blocks. Inevitable, I reasoned, if one wishes to avoid screen clutter. As our destination hove near, I reached for my Airport Guide to find field elevation and runway data.

"You can put the book away too," Will suggested, and extending an index finger toward the CRT, tapped at the point of interest. Instantly the screen dissolved into the pertinent page of the Airport Facility Directory. Though I didn't notice it until later, the ATIS, Approach, Tower and Ground Control frequencies had all loaded themselves into the Comm 1 memory stack. Handy.

"Shall we shoot a practice approach?" asked Will, and I shrugged. He tapped the screen again, and the display became an approach plate, with lLS, DME and Compass Locator frequencies all transferred automatically to their respective radios. Will punched the autopilot into coupled approach mode, and we sat back to scan for traffic and monitor our progress. The ILS needles didn't deviate by half a dot. Isn't electronics great!

Half way to the Outer Marker, just as I was beginning to rationalize the purchase of all this new hardware for my very own aerial chariot, I began to sense the faint but unmistakable aroma of smoldering insulation. Before I could alert Will, three breakers popped in the panel, and the lights went out. Good thing, I thought reaching for my chart case for the third time, good thing I brought along my handheld comm.

"Any idea where we are?" asked Will.

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