I looked at my calendar; it’s the middle of July, and I’m in Lakeland. This isn’t right. I should be at Oshkosh AirVenture 2020, with 600,000 of my closest aviation friends. Thanks, COVID-19!

While we are missing this year's bacchanalia of aviation, we are offering many show virtual show specials during what would have been our yearly pilgrimage. Check them out here.

If all were right with the world, I would be standing in the Gulf Coast Avionics booth and having a great time talking to you all about the newest and coolest avionics. And no doubt one of the systems we’d be talking about are autopilots.

Not long ago, autopilots were the tools of truly “serious” IFR pilots. The “$100 hamburger” fliers just weren’t interested. Flying the airplane by hand is well, the best part of flying. Thankfully that’s all changed. I say thankfully because I believe that even a VFR pilot can really benefit from the workload-reducing features reliable autopilot can bring into their flying. Especially in today’s higher-workload cockpits.

Think about it. Let’s say you’re flying along on a sunny Sunday morning, and you look down at your iPad to check airport information, or to look at the weather – that’s a minute or two you’re not flying the airplane. Or let’s say you’re on a family vacation and you’re approaching an unfamiliar airport or you’re distracted by the kids in the back – yeah, like that never happened.

Without even realizing it, you’re behind the airplane. As you well know, that’s a quick recipe for disaster. But, if you have a reliable autopilot in the panel, at the touch of a button good ‘ol George (the nickname comes from George DeBeeson, the father of modern autopilots), can take over the flying duties.

And today’s digital autopilots can do a lot more than keep your wings level and the nose on course. Advanced microprocessor technologies combined with super-computer like aerodynamic analytics have enabled the manufacturers to introduce an array of workload-reducing, safety-enhancing features like Envelope Protection, Straight and Level Protection/Alerting, Level Mode, Altitude Hold, GPS to ILS approach sequencing, and lots more.

The good news is, unlike legacy systems, you don’t have to break the bank to install a new-generation autopilot. You’d be surprised just how many advanced features and capabilities you’ll find in even a basic, two-axis system like the BendixKing AeroCruze 100.

BendixKing Aerocruze 100
BendixKing AeroCruze 100 

Of course, like anything, the sophistication required to deliver advanced features like Envelop Protection or Level Mode does come at a higher price. But, when you really think about it can you put a price on increased peace-of-mind? I think not.

Like anything in avionics, it’s a mistake to decide by price alone. So do yourself and your passengers a favor and think about all the combined benefits a new autopilot will bring to your flying.

Gulf Coast Avionics is a leading dealer for BendixKing, Dynon, Garmin, and Genesys/S-TEC autopilots, and I’m here to help you make an informed decision about which system is best for your type of flying. Just give me a call at 863.709.9714 (ext 112). I’m here to help.

Until next time, fly safely and have fun,

Matt

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