AOPA Air Safety Foundation Survival Seminar


The AOPA’s Air Safety Foundation will be returning to Texas this coming week with their After the Crash:  Surviving An Aircraft Accident seminar.  Though aircraft accidents are rare to most pilots, they still happen.  It is best to be prepared with the proper knowledge and supplies in case you are stranded in a remote area while awaiting help to arrive.

The seminar will cover the following items:

  • How and what to pack in a survival kit
  • Ways to help search parties find you
  • What to do first immediately after the off airport landing
  • How to survive will awaiting rescue

The seminar will be put on in Houston, San Antonio, and Austin on three consecutive nights, the 20th-22nd, so everyone will get a chance to attend.  The location and times are below.

No signup is necessary, just show up and be ready to learn.  The seminar does count for WINGs credit and there will be a sign in sheet at each event.

The AOPA Air Safety Foundation puts on numerous seminars throughout the country during the year covering a wide variety of topics relevant to general aviation pilots.  The content is always interesting and the presenter always knowledgeable and entertaining.  Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, January 20th

Wyndham Hotel, Houston West
14703 Park Row Blvd.
Houston, TX 77079

Wednesday, January 21st

Doubletree Hotel, San Antonio Airport
37 NE Loop 410
San Antonio, TX 78216

Thursday, January 22nd

Omni Hotel, Southpark
4140 Governor’s Row
Austin, TX 78744

For more information on the event and the locations, please click here.

Free iPad Webinar


Are you thinking of buying an iPad and going to a paperless cockpit?  Have you just recently purchased an iPad and are unsure of how to use Foreflight to it’s fullest extent?  Check out this free webinar on Monday, January 19th.  Gary Reeves, a Master CFI from California, will be hosting the 90 minute seminar, which begins at 1800 Z.  He will be able to point you in the right direction for what type of iPad to purchase, how to set up your Foreflight account, and the basics of using the App.

You can finally get rid of those paper charts, saving clutter in the cockpit.  Just make sure you bring along a charger for those extended flight in case your battery dips low!

To sign up for this webinar, click here.  There is no cost associated with the webinar.

Thanks For Flying With Us!


From our family to yours, thank you for flying with Texas Top Aviation in 2014.  We wish everyone a Happy New Year and a great 2015!

Texas Top Aviation Family

Synthetic Vision Technology


Let’s say you’re flying in the mountains of Colorado on a cloudy day.  There’s a solid layer from the surface all the way up to 14,000 feet.  You’re inbound to Eagle (KEGE) on the RNAV (GPS) D approach.  There are mountains next to you and below you, but you aren’t concerned since you can see them all.  The base of the last reported overcast layer was 3,000 feet, so you know you’ll break out before the MDA and land no problem.

At 11,100 over AWACC, you clearly see the top of the mountain below you.  You are comfortably above it. You already have the runway in sight as well.  You pop out of the clouds on the approach at 9,700 feet, spot the airport and follow the tower’s instructions to circle north of the runway for a left base for runway 7.

How could you see the mountains inside the clouds?  You have Synthetic Vision installed on your glass panel, that’s how.

Aspen Synthetic Vision

Aspen Synthetic Vision

Synthetic Vision, which has actually been around since the ’70s when NASA and the US Military first developed it, was first FAA certified for the Gulfstream PlaneView flight deck in 2009.  Garmin, Avidyne, and Aspen are the main general aviation manufacturers of synthetic vision these days.  All Garmin PFDs are now equipped with Synthetic Vision while Aspen gives you the option to upgrade to Synthetic Vision when you get one of their PFDs installed.  Avidyne gives you Synthetic Vision in their R9 upgrade for the Cirrus.

What is Synthetic Vision?  Basically, it’s a 3-D picture on the primary flight display showing terrain, obstacles, traffic, and runways.  It greatly enhances situation awareness in areas of terrain or high obstacles during IFR conditions or at night.

The goal behind the development of Synthetic Vision was to decrease the amount of controlled flight into terrain (CFIT) accidents.  A CFIT accident consists of a perfectly airworthy airplane flown by a pilot (or autopilot) unintentionally into terrain. These accidents can happen in low visibility conditions or at night, but the reason is mainly due to the pilot losing track of his position in relation to obstacles or terrain (or water as was the case with JFK Jr.).

With Synthetic Vision, the goal is to enhance pilot knowledge of what is around the airplane at all times. When you’re at altitude, the terrain below you looks flat.  When you start descending down amongst the rocks, the hills or mountains start to rise up on your screen.  For those used to the coloration with the 2-D terrain feature on a GPS unit, it translates very easily to the terrain coloration on a Synthetic Vision equipped PFD. Terrain that is between 100 and 500 feet below the aircraft is shown as yellow, while terrain closer than 100 feet is depicted as red.

Garmin Synthetic Vision

Garmin Synthetic Vision


One neat feature on Garmin units is the Highway in the Sky.  When a pilot puts a course or a flight plan in the GPS, the PFD displays magenta boxes at the altitude selected displaying the route.  It’s handy when hand flying to just “fly through the boxes.”  They also display descent angles on approaches.

Synthetic Vision is still optional on Garmin and Aspen units, but I highly recommend springing for it.  It will give you a higher level of safety and keep you out of the rocks.

Pancake Fly-In At KCVB


For those of you in the Hill Country looking to kick off the Christmas month right, head over to the Castroville Airport (KCVB) on Saturday, December 6th and get yourself a short stack of flapjacks.  For just $5, you can get yourself a good hearty breakfast that includes coffee or juice and bacon or sausage.  The eating starts at 0800 and goes until 1200, local time.  Come with an empty belly and an empty gas tank as CVB currently has some of the lowest priced gas in South Texas, currently listed at $4.70/gallon.

There will be plenty of hangar flying, lots of airplanes to look at, and most importantly, lots of pancakes!

CVB Pancake Breakfast