Practice Using Portable GPS Units in Your Car

Commuting hours can be put to good use retaining familiarity with your navigator's software.

If you have a portable GPS for emergency backup, or if you use it in your airplane for its terrain awareness or for receiving satellite weather, then your commuting time in your car can be put to good use. Even if you have the road database, it can be more helpful to stick with the aviation software for practice-especially on your regular commuting route where you need no navigation guidance.

Buying an extra dashboard or windshield suction-cup mount for the car is helpful, especially if you are able to configure your GPS in roughly the same location as you have it in your airplane.

As I start my drive, I'll usually take a look at the radar first, especially if it looks like an active day in my area. Curiosity can lead me to take a closer look at weather in other parts of the country, too. Activating and manipulating the map pointer has become second nature-and I've become proficient at acquiring metars from around the country. This is a valuable skill to have in the airplane, and one that might get mentally rusty if I didn't practice.

On heavy weather days, it is educational to see how the Nexrad radar coincides with what I see outside the windshield. Sometimes, especially with intense storms, the time lag becomes evident. I drive through the heaviest weather just a few miles upstream of what I see on the map. And that can be a valuable familiarity when it comes to flying in the vicinity of storms.

If you simply punch in your destination and use the unit in normal aviation nav mode, you can experiment with which screen configuration works best for you, what data you'd like displayed and even become proficient at changing screen configurations on the fly.

Which brings up the final point. Please be sure to confine your button pushing and screen gazing to your driveway, or those moments when you're stationary in traffic. But you knew that, already.