Pilots have been taking to the sky in Alaska for more than one hundred years. In the last fifteen years the advancement in aviation technology has made a dramatic leap forward beginning with the Capstone program. “The premise behind capstone was to accelerate off the shelf technology and get it into the cockpits” Gary Bennett owner of Northern lights Avionics exclaims”Because up until that time we had been dealing with navigation and communication equipment from the 40’s and 50’s ”
According to Bennett the Capstone program set out to upgrade infrastructure with airports, weather products communications and GPS driven systems,now pilots are seeing further advancements. “We’re getting i-pads in the cockpit, you know we’re seeing all kinds of you know neat toys, you know we have synthetic vision, you know how cool is that”
The innovations are providing an affordable alternative when it comes to getting much needed information to the v-f-r pilot “We’re even getting to see traffic on the i-pad, we’re even getting to see our weather on the I-pad even here in Alaska”
Bennett says It is all about giving the pilot as many tools to stay safe as possible. “We’re also working with things like angle of attack systems that where we’re able to now put in a general aviation aircraft so the pilot has somebody looking over his shoulder, has equipment looking over his shoulder based on the ability of the airplane to fly based on its lift that’s available”
As computer speeds get faster and new apps arrive, the ability to stay in touch brings some peace of mind. “Having a satellite track your position real time on the internet so that friends loved ones, dispatchers can see where you’re at all the time in real time is a very powerful tool that is something that up until now has really kind of been out of reach for general aviation” said Bennett.
Bennett stresses no matter what new gizmos you have in your plane some things remain the same.”Flying in Alaska is a beautiful endeavor and sometimes it can be unforgiving though and you have to respect it and respect the weather and if you don’t have to get there you don’t have to get there”