The two 430s were linked in mysterious ways; putting “direct to” somewhere into number one resulted in the same “direct to” in number two! Multiple maps stared at me from the MFD. Topo and terrain, traffic and who knows what other indications eyed me with suspicion, as well they should. There were various buttons festooning the right and left side of the G600 with alluring titles like “baro” and “V/S.” Would I ever figure all this out?
Not yet. But 50 hours later, I have learned what a great situational aid this constellation of equipment represents. On an ILS to Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina (KRDU), multiple vectors would have left me dizzy but for the consistent and clear information on the map page of the Garmin and the Avidyne. The V bars, coupled with the wind vector right next to it, not to mention the green circle that represents the flight path marker — this is where the airplane is really going, regardless of what heading and pitch look like — made the approach to a 900-foot ceiling the perfect first date.
The synthetic vision is the real surprise. I had thought that it was just a gimmick with little practical application. Most of the time that might be true, but flying in the mountains of the northeast United States has moved my sentiments from the trivial-but-fun to the helpful and, maybe, lifesaving. Coming over Mount Ascutney, Vermont, on the descent, I could see the mountain both out the window and on the screen. It was eerily reassuring that information stored on a chip coupled with precise position information gathered from a satellite orbiting Earth could paint the picture so vividly. The terrain features, the traffic information and the blue of the Connecticut River made for a picture that was more than informative; it was so authoritative as to be spellbinding.
I can imagine that losing an engine on a low day would make the terrain features on the synthetic vision a great reassurance while sorting out which prop to feather and where to point the airplane. Speaking of pointing the airplane, once parked on the ramp our Cheyenne was pointed toward a low hill on the east side of the airport. You can see the hill on the G600 screen shot I took (shown on page 72).
New equipment takes some getting used to, no doubt about it. The tandem 430s and WAAS are new to me. On a recent approach I was given a heading, then given direct to the outer marker, and I got there by hitting the “direct to” button and switching from the heading mode to the navigation mode. I also had the localizer dialed in. I was surprised when the 430 automatically switched to VLOC and started to make a run for the localizer. Good thing the weather was good and the controllers were friendly.
I don’t suppose there is ever an excuse for the kind of financial commitment these sorts of upgrades require. Given the state of the economy and the fortunes of many, it may seem almost criminal to have such unabashed enjoyment from something so nonessential. One could argue that these upgrades stimulate the economy, but such a position would be disingenuous at best. I didn’t do these things for the good of the republic. I did them for me.
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