As pilots, part of our daily curriculum throughout any type of flight training is a post-flight debrief. As I began my flying career as a flight instructor, my post-flight debriefings occasionally went something like this:
Lucy: “Flight was great, soft-field landings were spot-on today, but do you remember that second chandelle we attempted?
Student: “I think so…?”
Lucy: “Well, the stall-horn didn’t quite go off toward the end of your roll out, nor did we gain as much altitude as we did on the other three chandelles.”
Student: (with a bewildered look) “Ok… ?”
I have no doubt my post-flight discussions would have been much more productive and meaningful if I had a visual to accompany my vague descriptions. The good news is that Garmin offers a free program that will easily convert your G1000 or G3X flight data log into Google Earth!
To begin the data logging process, ensure that a 4 GB SD card is inserted in the top slot of the MFD on the G1000 or G3X. With the requisite software, a Flight Data log file is automatically stored on this card and may be retrieved by inserting it into any PC. Once the card is in the computer, open the card and within the root directory a folder titled “/data_log” will be present and may be opened using Microsoft Excel.
To view the flight in Google Earth, the file will need to be converted using Garmin’s free Garmin Flight Log program. This program easily coverts the file to a readable format. Once the log file has been opened in Google Earth, the ability to zoom-in, rotate it and analyze any flight is possible. The option to save any flight to your computer to view at a later time is also available.
So next time your flight instructor references those S-turns along a road, I can't think of a better tool to use than our Flight Data Log Conversion program in conjunction with Google Earth to better understand bank angle, ground speed, and the effect of wind! Even though many of you may be well past your flight training days, having the option to view any flight is an excellent tool that can help all of us become better pilots. Being able to show off your flight path in a 3-D format is pretty cool too!