High Tech Flying

General Aviation (GA) today is experiencing the most rapid pace of innovation it has seen since the 1940's. Advances in composite structures and engine technology, and new features such as the Cirrus Airframe Parachute System (CAPS) are part of this trend.

But the major factor driving this trend is advancing avionics technology -- Global Positioning Systems (GPS), moving maps, GPS integrated autopilots, integrated displays, and in-flight datalink interfaces for near-instant access to current weather and flight planning information. These features define what are popularly known as "glass cockpit" airplanes.

These advances offer GA pilots increased levels of safety and performance. But in aviation there is never a free lunch. In order to realize these benefits GA pilots must learn a new way of flying. Just as these innovations are revolutionizing the way manufacturers build airplanes, they are also revolutionizing the way GA pilots must think in order to fly them.

The purpose of this web site (and of my book Glass Cockpit Flying) is to give GA pilots the tools and knowledge they need to realize the increased levels of safety and performance these airplanes promise. I learned to fly, to instruct and to love aviation in the "round dial" era of GA aircraft. But I have little nostalgia for the past. In the hands of a properly trained pilot glass cockpit airplanes are as big an improvement over their predecessors as the P-51 Mustang was over the Sopwith Camel. As aviators we respect and enjoy the machines and exploits of our predecessors. But aviation, more so than almost any other human endeavor, looks to and embraces the future. Glass cockpit airplanes are GA's future.

Over the last decade I have happily made the transition to flying and teaching in glass cockpit airplanes. I hope that sharing my knowledge and experience will help other GA pilots to successfully make that same transition.

Bob Littlefield, CFI, CFII, MEI, AIGI, A&P
Cirrus Standardized Instructor, Lancair/Columbia Factory Authorized Flight Instructor

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