Android Apps for Private Pilots I – The Phone Upgrade

I absolutely loved my Nexus One.  Problem was, it just didn’t have enough memory.  It had less than 250 MB of useable memory for apps, and most of that was taken up by the standard apps likes Flash, Maps, etc..  I didn’t even have enough memory for my required apps, much less games or aviation apps.  I was constantly having to remove apps I used to make room to still allow the phone to work.  Well I finally upgraded my phone to a Samsung Galaxy SIII.

I’m on T-Mobile, and considered the HTC One S, but it just didn’t have the right combination of features I needed.  Despite the fact that I was partial to HTC thanks to my experience with the Nexus One (their customer support is AWESOME), I really wanted a removeble battery and a MicroSD card slot for extra memory, neither of which was available with the HTC phone.  To top it off, the One S only had 16 GB of memory for everything (12 GB available).  I’d already had to upgrade my Nexus One with a 32 GB MicroSD card, so there was no way the One S was going to work.

So when I saw the specs on the Galaxy SIII, I realized it was finally time to upgrade my phone.  16 GB of memory, a 32 GB capable card slot, removeable battery, and a supposedly better camera.  The phone is expensive, $229 + 20 * $20 = $629, but I REALLY needed a new phone.

I couldn’t be happier now.  I’ve already loaded 3GB of apps, but there’s still 9GB left.

So now that I’ve got plenty of space, it was time I loaded some apps to use while flying.  In the next article, I’ll list and review what I’ve found so far.

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Roudenbush Center Open House, Thursday Sept. 1

Thursday night, September 1st, Flying’sCool will be participating in an Open House at the Roudenbush Center in Westford, MA starting at 5:00 pm.  Come on down and check us out! 🙂

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Fall Classes Start Tuesday 9/27 at Roudenbush Center

Registration is open for the latest Flying’sCool! classes at the Roudenbush Center.  Classes start on September 27.   Sign up today!

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Runway Status Lights Are Coming to an Airport Near You

Notice Number: NOTC3171

What Are Runway Status Lights?

Runway Status Lights (RWSL) are a series of red in-pavement lights that warn pilots of high-speed aircraft or vehicles on runways. They operate independently of Air Traffic Control. Runway Status Lights have two states: ON (lights are illuminated red) and OFF (lights are off) and are switched automatically based on information from the airport surface surveillance systems. RWSL will improve airport safety by indicating when it is unsafe to enter, cross, or takeoff from a runway.

The RWSL system has two types of lights. Runway Entrance Lights (RELs) are installed at taxiways and Takeoff Hold Lights (THLs) on runways.

Runway Entrance Lights
Runway Entrance Lights (RELs) are a series of red in-pavement lights spaced evenly along the taxiway centerline from the taxiway hold line to the runway edge. One REL is placed before the hold line and one REL is placed near the runway centerline. RELs are directed toward the runway hold line and are oriented to be visible only to pilots entering or crossing the runway from that location. RELs that are ON (illuminated red) indicate that the runway ahead is not safe to enter or cross. Pilots should remain clear of a runway when RELs along their taxi route are illuminated. Lights that are off convey no meaning.

The system is not, at any time, intended to convey approval or clearance to proceed into a runway. Pilots remain obligated to comply with all ATC clearances, except when compliance would require crossing illuminated red RELs. In such a case, the crews should hold short of the runway for RELs, contact ATC, and await further instructions.

Takeoff Hold Lights
The Takeoff Hold Light (THLs) system is composed of red in-pavement
fixtures in a double row on either side of the runway centerline lighting. Fixtures are focused toward the arrival end of the runway at the “Line Up and Wait” point and extend in front of the holding aircraft beginning 375’ beyond the runway threshold and extending for 1,500’. Illuminated red lights provide a signal, to an aircraft in position for takeoff or rolling, that it is unsafe to takeoff because the runway is occupied or about to be occupied by another aircraft or ground vehicle. THLs that are ON (illuminated red) indicate that the runway ahead is not safe to takeoff. Pilots should refuse takeoff clearance if THLs are illuminated. Red THLs mean do not takeoff. Whenever a pilot observes the red lights of the THLs, the pilot will stop or remain stopped. The pilot will contact ATC for resolution if any clearance is in conflict with the lights. Lights that are off convey no meaning. The system is not, at any time, intended to convey approval or clearance to takeoff. Pilots must still receive an ATC clearance to takeoff.

RWSL  are in operation at DFW, SAN, LAX, BOS, and MCO. The system will be operational at PHX, IAH, SEA, IAD, and LAS in 2012 and will be installed
at 23 major airports nationwide by 2016.

Pilots are encouraged to learn more about RWSL at:

See this Notice in living color at

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Fly a plane & see Flying’sCool! Sat. 8/13/11 in Stow, MA at Young Eagles, Minuteman Airport

Are you 8 – 17 years old and would you like the chance to fly an airplane?  Check out the Young Eagles Saturday August 13, 2011 9 am to 12 pm at Minuteman Airport in Stow.

Flying’sCool will be there, too, supporting the Young Eagles again.  Check us out and try your hand at flying in the same planes and at the same airport in a detailed simulator before you fly in the real thing.  Check here for more info.

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“What do I need to run Flight Simulator?” Chapter 3 – Addons

Flight Simulator is ok right out of the box, and the default package gets better with every new version.  But to really enjoy it, I highly recommend that you look into getting some addons.

A huge development community has developed to support the Flight Simulator franchise.  For those on a tight budget, you’ll easily be satisfied with what is out there as freeware.  For freeware, I tend to stick with four sites,,, and,  

But if you really want to enhance your simulator, I highly recommend you check out some of the payware offerings out there. 

The first place I go when I’m interested in purchasing a payware product is  They have a huge library of products, plus you have 30 days to decide if you want to keep the product.


As far as addons are concerned, there are two scenery packages I consider essential, the Ultimate Terrain Series, and the Ground Environment series.  FSX comes with relatively accurate scenery including many major roads and lakes and rivers.  But Ultimate Terrain enhances all that many times over.  It includes ALL roads, rivers, lakes, as well as accurate golf courses, cemeteries, sporting venues as well as many other features.  The difference between default FSX and the enhancement by UTX of the rivers, scenery, and coastlines is night and day.  I’ve included a couple images  below showing the difference between default FSX and UTX enhancement.

Ground Environment replaces the ground textures with more realistically colored tiles and more varied autogen (trees, houses, buildings, etc.).  My favorite feature is their replacement of grassy areas.  For some reason Microsoft chose a washed out light brown texture for grassy areas, and Ground Environment fixes this situation. 

A special shout out also goes out to FSGenesis, one of the original payware FS developers.  FSGenesis is most famous for their terrain mesh products.  Terrain mesh describes the “bumps” in the terrain, from the small hills to the mountains. 

I can’t say enough about how important especially Ultimate Terrain is if you fly VFR general aviation aircraft and you are looking to simulate your flights in FSX.  You’ll feel like you’re really there, and you’ll immediately recognize cues such as rivers, lakes and mountains when you actually fly your flight and compare it to your flight in FSX.


The addon airplane field is so mature at this point that I couldn’t even begin to list the top ten aircraft for you.  You’ll need to decide what type of plane you are looking for and then do a little research.  As  for who the standout aircraft design companies are:

Warbirds – A2A simulations and their Accu-sim products
Airliners – PMDG, Level-D, Captain Sim, CLS
General Aviation – Eaglesoft, Flight1, RealAir, Carenado, Aerosoft, Just Flight

This is by no means a comprehensive list of all the payware aircraft design companies out there, but it’s a start with some of the best.  And don’t ignore the freeware that’s available out there.  To learn more, I highly recommend browsing and joining in on the community forums out there such as Avsim,, and others.

In my next installment, I’ll cover some of the options you have for controllers of FSX.

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Back to the grind again… – Just got back from a wonderful week in Arizona visiting family in the Flastaff area.  It was an awesome trip, spent some time at the Grand Canyon again, as well as Wapatki, Tuba City, and the 3rd (Hopi) Mesa.  I just can’t get enough of the canyon and the surrounding painted desert.  If you haven’t been, I HIGHLY recommend it.  The scenery in the canyon and the surrounding area is both breathtaking and the definition of awesome.

Speaking of the Grand Canyon, one of my favorite addon sceneries is the freeware OZx Grand Canyon and KGCN.  Check out some pictures here, here, and here.

Yes, except for the shot of Kelly preparing to fly over the canyon, all the other shots are from Microsoft Flight Simulator with the OZx Photoreal Grand Canyon scenery and Holger’s 10m mesh.

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Flying’sCool! featured in the Westford Patch

Patrick Holloway from the Westford Patch stopped by our Roudenbush Community Ed class last night and posted a story about Flying’sCool! this morning.   Check out the story here.

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Great Fun at the Apple Blossom Festival!

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Had a great time at the Apple Blossom Festival today! Loved the parade. It was very impressive.  Thanks to everyone who stopped by the booth today.   Hope to see you in class.  If you didn’t get a chance to sign … Continue reading

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Free Aeronautical Charts

So, you’d like to make your sim flights as realistic as possible by using up to date charts and terminal procedures, or you pilot real planes and are looking for the latest aeronautical charts and airport data?  Well, your friendly FAA has put in the effort to meet your needs.  Responding to popular demand, all sectionals, TAF’s, A/FD information, Terminal Procedures, IFR enroute charts, airport diagrams, and world charts, and more are now available for free.  Just go to and click on the “Free Digital Products” link in the left column.

Another source I like to go to while I am creating a flight plan is

Why use public money to make this information available?  Mainly, safety.  It’s not cheap to keep up to date on this data, and the FAA is concerned that some people may forego updates to save a little money, possibly compromising the safety of the system.  Also, in the interest of safety, it is part of the government’s job to create and regulate this data, so, really, the data belongs to the public in the first place.

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