Never have I enjoyed glass so much. This is even better than the Learjet martini glasses a friend gave to me — much more expensive too. Nor am I speaking of Dale Chihuly’s glass concoctions. What we’ve done, my wife and I, is to replace the old instruments in our 31-year-old Cheyenne with the Garmin G600. While we were at it, we added another Garmin 430 and upgraded both to WAAS. The panel was completely redone. I left the Avidyne EX 500, which I love so dearly, right where it was.
Was it worth it? Yes. Did it cost a lot? As much as a new Mercedes, albeit the entry-level one. Is it spectacular? Affirmative. And, I haven’t really even figured it all out yet. I have concluded, however, that if I get lost now, it will be time to call it quits, stop by Wal-Mart, pick up a box of Depends and call it a day, or maybe a life.
Though the Avidyne was a game changer, what with its map featuring Nexrad weather, metars, TAFs and winds aloft, I couldn’t keep my eyes off the Garmin. Since the Cheyenne commanded the G600, not the G500, synthetic vision came with the package. As in all fishing expeditions, the hook was finally set by a seasoned fisherman (read: avionics man), this one named Jack Shields. Jack, then of Lanmar Aviation in Groton, Connecticut, (now of Atlas Aircraft Center in Portsmouth, New Hampshire) sold me. Not that he had a lot of persuading to do, but when he saw me approach the lure, he played the line carefully. Next thing I knew, I was getting photographs of our panel, completely deconstructed. These images were terrifying.
Where sensible, time-honored dials and gauges had resided for three decades, there was now a gaping hole. Even a trauma surgeon would have gasped at the size of the cut. How, I wondered, could everything possibly be regrouped in a way that would allow me to trust the whole ensemble on a low approach? Was this really a good idea?
Fifty hours later, and still seeing new features each time I fly, I conclude that you should get some glass too. It makes you (well, me, at least) a better, more precise pilot. I know that hundreds of laudatory articles have been written by seasoned writers about the features of glass PFDs (primary flight displays) and MFDs (multifunction displays); I’ll leave the technical explanations to them. This is about one owner’s experience and one installation. Prices, specifics and satisfaction may vary.