Well, I finally gave in. Last weekend I bought an iPad with the intention of using it as an electronic flight bag (EFB). I bought the 3G model to get the GPS. So far, I have downloaded several aviation apps and I am getting familiar with them in the comfort of my own home. I hope I will have the chance to try my favorites in the air soon. I’m working on that but more details will have to wait until my tentative plans are firmer. For now, I will continue to get familiar with the apps and put together a suite that works for me.
I also want to come up with a sound strategy for backups to the iPad. Short of carrying two iPads, my first inclination is to carry a full set of charts on the iPad and use paper backups for certain critical information. Right now I am still a VFR pilot so that means sectionals, terminal area charts and A/FD. If I am in an airplane with a good mapping GPS (GNS430, GNS530, G1000, etc.), I should be able to forgo the paper charts altogether. The airport info is in the database and the magenta line will still provide guidance even if the iPad fails. In this case, the iPad will actually be the backup for the GPS anyway. If I am in a less well equipped aircraft, I would probably want a paper sectional.
When I get back to instrument training, I plan to carry paper copies of the procedures for my departure, destination and alternate airports only. That means a few sheets of paper instead of inches thick bound volumes. The backup scheme will evolve as I get more experience with the EFB.
Soon I hope to be able to report on my experience with the different apps I am trying.