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Flight Training and Avionics Upgrade

This is all moving pretty fast, but I need to go to a basic school dedicated to my specific airplane, to learn the systems and get really familiar with how everything works. And I need to get some instrument (IFR) work so that I can fly when there are clouds in the sky. Finally, I need to upgrade the two GPS units in the plane to what is called WAAS, which stands for Wide Area Augmentation System.

According to Garmin, WAAS is “a system of satellites and ground stations that provide GPS signal corrections, giving you even better position accuracy… an average of up to five times better. A WAAS-capable receiver can give you a position accuracy of better than three meters 95 percent of the time.” This kind of system permits instrument approaches as good as a full ILS (Instrument Landing System) at almost any airport, and is a tremendous boost to safety. 

I plan to fly to Birmingham Friday or Saturday for a Tuesday meeting there. I’ve been trying to figure how to schedule the school and the avionics upgrade and it came together today more quickly than I had thought possible. To get me and the airplane up to speed quickly and ready to fly, I’m planning to head down to Orlando to a flight training facility called “SimCom” next Tuesday or Wednesday, depending on weather, for a three-day “initial” school for the Piper 6X. I should also be able to complete an Instrument Proficiency Check (IPC) during this training to make me legal to fly IFR.

The school runs Thursday through Saturday, and then I will head over to Venice, Florida to the Sarasota Avionics facility to spend two days having my two Garmin GPS’s upgraded to WAAS. Sarasota Avionics, which is really in Venice, is the largest installing Garmin dealer in the world for the last 7+ years, and promises to upgrade my plane in a mere two days by trading in my GPS units for new ones, at a slightly higher cost than upgrading my units, but with a full new unit and warranty. This upgrade can be done in two days rather than the 7 to 10 days required to upgrade my units.

If all goes well, both the plane and I will be up to speed in a little over a week from now. It will be good to get all of this out of the way, and be ready for the next adventure.

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