Digital Charts. Each day, apps are developed that make tablets even more useful. Finally, a way to remove the burden of carrying a phonebook of paper charts. Your iPad or Android tablet can function quite nicely with the advent of digital charts. Applications like ForeFlight Mobile is free to download but then prepare to fork over $75 – $150 per year for digital chart subscriptions. You can also use your tablet for weather reporting, check lists, and for email if stuck on the ground.
While I am not an expert on aviation, I have thrown up on many small planes, so feel somewhat qualifies to share my knowledge about mounts.
Typical car mounts using suction may not work especially well in a small plane. Space limitations and the concern over a falling mount means you may need to rethink how your device can be mounted. Other typical car mounts like a vent or cup holder will not work well for obvious reasons. Not to worry because there are mounts that are made specifically for pilots. Instead of suction cups, they deploy glare screen and yoke attachments.
While we cannot recommend iPad apps, we can recommend some very well constructed metal mounts from RAM. Three types of mounts are most popular with pilots and we’ll cover them in the remainder of this article.
A yoke mount is the most popular. Easy to attach and detach which makes it particularly useful for time sharing or rental situations. Typically the yoke will use RAM’s RAM-B-121U or RAP-B-121U base then attach an arm and cradle as required. We like to recommend one of the X-Grip cradles as a universal solution. MountGuys readers might remember this post that reviews this line of universal cradles. These cradles will work real well regardless of if you have a skin or case around your tablet.
The RAM glare screen attachment attaches to the lip of a dash. This permits the device to overhang a bit. As long as it is not blocking your view of any instruments, these will work quite well. Again, you will need to add a custom cradle or the universal X-Grip line to round out your mounting solution. These are also easily removable which means it’s a good choice for temporary installations.
The third solution is the custom seat bolt. This is a permanent solution and better suited to pilots that own their plane. These can be purchased in lengths ranging from 18 to 30 inches. They attach to the bolts that hold your seat to the floor board. Installation is not too difficult and typically requires a wrench or pliers. Be sure to wrench tighten the seat bolt when done as hand tightening will result in a mount that flops over and a seat that could become detached.
Although suction cups may not be the best solution, there are cases where it might be the only solution. We recommend a heavy duty mount with a suction cup at least three inches across. Be sure the suction cup has a locking vacuum mechanism and check out our article on suction cups before you attach it to ensure you get the most secure grip possible.