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"Children of the Magenta"

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He,he....

 

Any idea how much I despise that video?  From memory, it's somewhere around 1996 to 1998. Came out just after an American Airlines 757 crash into mountains in Columbia.  This video is often used as an example of why we shouldn't rely on electronic devices such as the GPS.

It's especially popular in student pilot & flight sim forums. Then the student pilot can proclaim "I don't need no stink-in GPS"!

 

The reality of the situation.  The pilots of that aircraft did screw up, in addition to confusion with the database. Problem is, they never had the "Big Picture", that's easily accessible with even today's handhelds.  They had around 14 seconds warning of an impending mountain collusion. Today, we have hours & hundreds of miles of advance warning. We can see exactly where we've been, and exactly where we're heading. All within a few feet. 

 

We can also see weather patterns for hundreds of miles in the distance. Winds, altimeter settings, etc. I'm a strong advocate of GPS!  Went through half a dozen aviation moving maps, since I started using them in late 1993.  I really gave this a lot of thought, after a DC-8 four engine cargo jet slammed into the mountain, above where I lived in 1977. I always hoped for a better way, and now we have it. This video has little relevance to modern day navigation systems. We no longer average three flight into terrain accidents, every year out here. They are now seldom. We can thank a huge improvement in situational awareness.

 

Yep..............still can't stand this video!!!

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Yeah I know, "I never had my GPS fail", etc. etc. But yet I'd still prefer to fly with a pilot who can maintain his situational awareness even without a GPS.

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Yeah I know, "I never had my GPS fail", etc. etc. But yet I'd still prefer to fly with a pilot who can maintain his situational awareness even without a GPS.

IMO, the pilot who flies long cross countries, without a GPS, especially with mountains, and variable weather..............is an idiot!   Knowing what I know, and all of the pilots I know, I doubt there are many, who still regularly fly without. This old bold, and basic airmanship crap is exactly that. Just a bunch of bull and legend.  The hillsides are splatted with aluminum and fabric residue, thanks to the inferior navigation systems of the past. If you want to hold on to that notion, as though it's something special, then by all means do so. In the meantime, those who actually use modern navigation, will always be more aware of everything that's going on around them, than those who don't. That is a FACT!   Ever wonder why GPS in Alaska, is so much more successful that the prior methods?  Ever wonder how well the old & bold line of sight VORs work, with mountains, & low cloud cover. They don't. 

 

Typical sim forum BS.

Remember what I said about five years ago, regarding flight instructors?  If you ever end up with a flight instructor, that tells you to throw your GPS into the back seat, with some stupid grin on their face, then throw them out.

 

There might be a few left, that hold onto the notion, that VOR navigation is basic airmanship. It's not basic at all. Just an inferior form of navigation, that replaced an inferior form before it. Around five years ago, there was still some idiot old fogie flight instructor, who made regular internet rounds, telling those who would listen, that GPS was nothing but a fancy toy. What an idiot!  Does anyone think a "nerve" of mine, has been touched? You had better believe it!

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The only thing that matters is that you are capable of maintaining situational awareness with whatever minimum equipment you fly with. If you are going to fly planes that are equipped with two vors and a dme, then yoiu better be able to competently maintain situational awareness with just that. If you only know how to maintain situational awareness with a moving map display, then you better not fly without that. But flight instructors cannot place a restriction in your logbook or license that legally limits you to only flying with gps and moving maps, so have to assure themsrlves that if you go out tomorrow and rent a bare bones cheap vor only cessna, that you will be able to competently use that minimal equipment. Until there are no more planes that lack a gps moving map, a cfi has to be assured that the student can be safe without it.

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I find nothing about this video that implies that GPS should somehow be discounted and is causing fatalities. It's about automation dependency and how it will kill you real quick if you don't apply common sense. If you watch the other videos in the series, it's about applying common sense to manage cockpit workload when operating complex aircraft. Because of that, it's extremely good presentation from a training perspective. I've been shown this video in training at a fairly sizable US airline. I know many other professional aviators that think the "Children of the Magenta" has important take-aways. It's not sim-forum BS.

 

The reason that the common sense automation management is important is because it's a serious problem in aviation today. Asiana flew into a sea wall since they didn't cross check the automation mode. An Embraer flown at a major US regional almost flew into the ground on a night visual as the crew cycled through ever vertical mode on the AFCS in the span of 15 seconds. Southwest landed at the wrong airport because they didn't cross-check what they were looking at with the FMS. Wonder why ICAO is adding minimum levels-of-service to chart titles? Because crews are following their onboard FMS's as if it was supplying data it doesn't have. 

 

How about that student pilot who proclaims "I don't need no GPS"? I'll take a student pilot that can maintain situational awareness without a GPS as compared to the PPL who gets lost when the iPad battery dies. Yes, they exist, and I've met them. They don't care, since they always have an iPad with them.

 

Furthermore, I'm going to disagree with your conclusions on the Cali crash. The crew flew into the mountain because they had a case of "get-there-itis". They descended below MSA, off a published route, in a non-radar environment. Every commercial pilot you talk to will tell you that's a recipe for disaster, and that the correct course of action when they realized they were off course was to climb. Instead of that, the sat there trying to get the FMS to get them to their destination. Having an EGPWS might have saved that crew, but the same factors that killed that crew continue to put aircraft at risk. Captain Vanderbergburg's lectures are very good at explaining these factors and how to avoid them; common sense. 

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The Cali crash ----- 1995.  Terrain mapping GPS didn't exist. At least not on any level to carry aboard in a database.  Had this crew had what a student pilot has in today's Cessna 172 trainer planes, as well as ten years ago..................this crew wouldn't have crashed, mistakes or not.  Fact is, I don't give a **** about the commercial pilots experience, because somewhere along the line, un-planned events took them out, as well as their passengers. 

 

As I said, Children of the Magenta Line, has little relevance in today's world. There are still plenty of commercial and military aircraft, that lack the basics of what we see in today's trainers. Pilots are still attempting to takeoff & land on the wrong runways, landing at wrong airports, crashing into rising terrain, etc. This is all something that a good portable handheld could easily prevent. The **** with the pilots making the mistakes. The passengers don't have to suffer for it.

 

P.S...............we don't need to be idiots that carry one GPS with one set of batteries.  Most pilots with any sense will tie into the aircrafts electrical system, with battery backup. And many carry at least two or more GPSs in one form or another.  We're also getting past the stage of just pressing point A to B into the GPS, and off we go.

 

I too, could go on about accident after accident as examples. The why's and wherefores. It was once my thing.   

 

And yes, until the VOR system is history in the USA, student pilots will still be learning the technique. Some other countries are still way behind. 

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I almost feel like we're talking past each other here- there have been many examples of accidents where GPS and the wonderful magenta needles can't come fast enough. Look at the Air Canada crash in Halifax recently- an LPV glideslope might have helped them get to the runway. However, there are plenty of accidents where the crew's miss-use of automation caused either an accident or mishap. Take a look at the Asiana crew's mode selections (which led to the flight mode that confused them) and you can see that they were struggling to make the autopilot do what they want. Now in that case, it appears that reverting to handflying would have placed more workload on the crew, but for a more proficient crew, would have made it a normal visual; a total non-event.

 

Here's an example from my actual experience. I was riding in back on a corporate jet that was taking an RNAV approach. They got cleared direct to the IAF, and the airplane started leading the turn, which meant that by the time the FMS thought they were established they were above the LPV glidepath. I watched the GP dot slowly move to peg at the bottom of the PFD. As this happens, the PF goes through the process of reelecting approach on the AFCS (which won't work because we're above the GP), then after the GP is pegged, using VS to try and catsch the GP. Luckily, this guy realized the approach was unstable, and the go-around was no problem (plenty of gas and no passengers). The entire situation could have been resolved by doing what Capt. Vanderburgh calls for - dropping the level of automation to make the airplane do what you want it do. 

 

An example that's more startling is a safety report from a US carrier operating Embraer E-Jets. On a night visual approach, the FO was PF, and captain is head down working on paperwork. The FO proceeds to cycle through every vertical mode on the AFCS trying to get the airplane to capture a VNAV glidepath to the runway, which he could see out the window. In the process of doing this, the aircraft descends dangerously low to the point of getting a GPWS warning. Anyone who's done a GPWS demo in a sim knows how close you get to terrain before those systems trigger, even with EGPWS. It's completely unacceptable that a crew got sucked into "I can make the autopilot do this for me" when they could see the runway. 

 

GPS is a great tool, but that's all it is; a tool. GPS and the other wonderful safety improvements it enables are completely subject to misuse.The reason children of the magenta is still a valid video is  because the trend is no longer flying into something you didn't know was there, but unchecked automation use leading to unstable scenarios. 

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I also don't find that the lecture addresses the use of GPS devices, or even less makes any sort of direct critic on that.

 

But, as a glider pilot, and these and other flight computers being used more an more in my activity, know of many accidents that might have been avoided should the pilot be paying more attention to the outside.

 

I still use a chart and my old E6-B for my x-country flights :-), even if I carry a sophisticated logger behind me ...

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I also don't find that the lecture addresses the use of GPS devices, or even less makes any sort of direct critic on that.

 

But, as a glider pilot, and these and other flight computers being used more an more in my activity, know of many accidents that might have been avoided should the pilot be paying more attention to the outside.

 

I still use a chart and my old E6-B for my x-country flights :-), even if I carry a sophisticated logger behind me ...

From actual long time experience, the amount of head time in the cockpit, was far less, with a good sized moving map GPS. I knew what I needed in an instant glance. 

 

It was once suggested that I should be triangulating VORs and using GPS as a backup, while flying mountain routes that were not VOR to VOR. What a bunch of baloney.  Think of the time, ones head is in the cockpit, while peering over charts, dialing OBSs, and drawing lines. 

 

Of course, I was always smart about the process. Nearly all of my flying was over rugged mountainous areas. All long cross countries were pre-planned with charts & line markings. The route was then entered into the GPS, where it became a reusable flight plan. 

The charts were carried along on my knee board for all flights.  I subscribed to XM Satellite weather, that far surpassed the old ritual of making FSS calls over the duration of the flight.  The awareness is night & day, over the old ways.

 

My GPS was also connected to the fuel monitoring system. I always knew how much was used,  and what was required to the destination. Fuel useage, according to the electronic fuel system gauge,  was always within a half gallon or less.

 

Other advantages of GPS/satellite weather were continuous wind, and altimeter updates. If you need to miss a mountain, you'll want the GPS readout, rather than a barometer based altimeter. The altimeter can easily be several hundred feet off, until you get a current setting. BTW, my airplanes altimeter, and GPS (Garmin)six-pac altimeter would exactly follow each other, for a few minutes, with every new & up to date altimeter setting. Then they'll slowly drift apart.  The satellite uplink also allows for current NOTAMs, as well as showing size & exact location. 

 

P.S. edit. The lecturer doesn't address GPS much, because they were in their infancy at the time. During those years, handhelds had far more options than panel mounts, due to TSO requirements. Handhelds were far more advanced than panel systems for quite a few years. Even at that, panel mount GPS systems took a long time, to make it a standard in commercial aircraft. Problem is, anytime someone wants to diminish the usability of a GPS, they throw up that link to Children of the Magenta Line. And then I throw up...

 

GPS is a great tool, but that's all it is; a tool. GPS and the other wonderful safety improvements it enables are completely subject to misuse.The reason children of the magenta is still a valid video is  because the trend is no longer flying into something you didn't know was there, but unchecked automation use leading to unstable scenarios. 

Wrong. It's one of the best and most practical  innovations, to ever happen in the aviation industry. But, as one old silly demented flight instructor, often said across the vast internet student pilot forums....................it's just a fancy toy. 

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From actual long time experience, the amount of head time in the cockpit, was far less, with a good sized moving map GPS. I knew what I needed in an instant glance. 

 

It was once suggested that I should be triangulating VORs and using GPS as a backup, while flying mountain routes that were not VOR to VOR. What a bunch of baloney.  Think of the time, ones head is in the cockpit, while peering over charts, dialing OBSs, and drawing lines. 

 

Of course, I was always smart about the process. Nearly all of my flying was over rugged mountainous areas. All long cross countries were pre-planned with charts & line markings. The route was then entered into the GPS, where it became a reusable flight plan. 

The charts were carried along on my knee board for all flights.  I subscribed to XM Satellite weather, that far surpassed the old ritual of making FSS calls over the duration of the flight.  The awareness is night & day, over the old ways.

 

My GPS was also connected to the fuel monitoring system. I always knew how much was used,  and what was required to the destination. Fuel useage, according to the electronic fuel system gauge,  was always within a half gallon or less.

 

Other advantages of GPS/satellite weather were continuous wind, and altimeter updates. If you need to miss a mountain, you'll want the GPS readout, rather than a barometer based altimeter. The altimeter can easily be several hundred feet off, until you get a current setting. BTW, my airplanes altimeter, and GPS (Garmin)six-pac altimeter would exactly follow each other, for a few minutes, with every new & up to date altimeter setting. Then they'll slowly drift apart.  The satellite uplink also allows for current NOTAMs, as well as showing size & exact location. 

 

P.S. edit. The lecturer doesn't address GPS much, because they were in their infancy at the time. During those years, handhelds had far more options than panel mounts, due to TSO requirements. Handhelds were far more advanced than panel systems for quite a few years. Even at that, panel mount GPS systems took a long time, to make it a standard in commercial aircraft. Problem is, anytime someone wants to diminish the usability of a GPS, they throw up that link to Children of the Magenta Line. And then I throw up...

Wrong. It's one of the best and most practical  innovations, to ever happen in the aviation industry. But, as one old silly demented flight instructor, often said across the vast internet student pilot forums....................it's just a fancy toy. 

 

 

I think you and I must have watched different videos....

 

All I took from it can be summed up in two sentences:

  • Stay close enough to what your automation/guidance (of whatever sort) is doing so that you can critically evaluate what it's doing and whether that's what you expect it to do.
  • Keep your manual skills sharp enough that you have the confidence and ability to reduce automation and/or hand fly when either the automation doesn't do what you want it to do (for whatever reason) or when adjusting the automation would be inefficient and/or innappropriate (e.g. a side step on finals).

 

All of which is reasonably sensible and relevant to the sim community (especially if you listen to the number of people using "the FMS did it" when explaining deviations on VATSIM or Pilotedge). None of which relegates anything to a "fancy toy", and it's certainly a big logical leap to take what the presenter said and picture him as the sort of beardy bloke in the corner of the bar, real ale in hand, wearing a t-shirt with the logo "Real Men Tune, Identify, Test".....

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P.S. edit. The lecturer doesn't address GPS much, because they were in their infancy at the time. During those years, handhelds had far more options than panel mounts, due to TSO requirements. Handhelds were far more advanced than panel systems for quite a few years. Even at that, panel mount GPS systems took a long time, to make it a standard in commercial aircraft. Problem is, anytime someone wants to diminish the usability of a GPS, they throw up that link to Children of the Magenta Line. And then I throw up...

 

I'm having a hard time understanding how this discussion became one about GPS rather than automation. Technology and automation are not synonymous. A discussion about modern nav sources or systems monitoring tools is not the same thing as a discussion about over-reliance on FMS, LNAV/VNAV, autothrottle, flight envelope protection, etc. I fail to understand what GPS has to do with things like maintaining proper airspeed, awareness during visual approaches, or habitual reliance on an FMS-coupled autopilot. These are subjects covered in the presentation, and they are still relevant and causing crashes today. Very few people would argue your points about GPS vs VOR navigation, but your points don't address the crux of Children of Magenta (over-reliance on highly automated systems) directly.   

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I'm having a hard time understanding how this discussion became one about GPS rather than automation. Technology and automation are not synonymous. A discussion about modern nav sources or systems monitoring tools is not the same thing as a discussion about over-reliance on FMS, LNAV/VNAV, autothrottle, flight envelope protection, etc. I fail to understand what GPS has to do with things like maintaining proper airspeed, awareness during visual approaches, or habitual reliance on an FMS-coupled autopilot. These are subjects covered in the presentation, and they are still relevant and causing crashes today. Very few people would argue your points about GPS vs VOR navigation, but your points don't address the crux of Children of Magenta (over-reliance on highly automated systems) directly.   

Over the years, this video has come up time after time, regarding the subject of GPS navigation versus old school NAV systems. Perhaps, we're finally to the point, where GPS is main stream. Maybe I don't have to be so defensive anymore. It has been over four years since I've flown. Never the less, the presentation is around 20 years old. It was produced, due to the AA757 mountain crash. Over reliance on automation. My point is...............these pilots never had the big picture. They didn't know exactly where they had been, and were not aware of exactly where they were headed. They only had 14 seconds to recognize impending doom.

 

Every time some instructor wanted to press the values of VOR nav to flight students, over the "easier" method of GPS...................they constantly posted a link to Children of the Magenta Line.  As I said, students would proclaim, "I don't need no stinkin GPS". While in reality, had these pilots had a modern day moving map portable, or a Garmin 1000 from a typical Cessna 172.....................then they would have had the big picture. They would have known exactly where they had been, and where they were headed. Rising terrain would show for hundreds of miles in advance.

 

I'm glad to know, that this video now, possibly has some value. But, based on so many years of past experience with it, I still can't stand any reference to it. 

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Larry, you might want to watch it again...

 

I just did, and found it very relevant to today's world.

 

Nowhere does he say that automation is bad and should not be used.

 

I took away the thought that the pilot should stay on top of what the automation

is doing, at all times.  And if things suddenly change, or the autopilot is causing

the airplane to depart from the desired flight path, he should turn it off and take control.

 

That makes a ton of sense to me, and as illustrated by the Asiana SF crash, the autopilot

will not keep you safe if it is not supervised by the pilot.

 

GPS is great for situational awareness and should help the pilot recognize when the airplane

deviates from the expected course..  at least that is what I took from it..

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to be honest and fair to us children of the magneta . preflight Set up of a modern airliner can be so time consuming and exhausting that by just after takeoff the pilot only has enough energy and cognition to follow magneta no matter where its going. I do that all the time.

 

Remmeebr that 777 from I think its Wilco pub, gets exactly halfway through the flight plan then starts going round in circles, that is when magneta pilot declares emergency gets his parachute  out.

 

Never drove before satnav, and never fly without magenta.

 

Magenta we hail thee

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On the flightsim side.. I looked at youtube for VATSIM vid's, and was stunned that 99% are Magenta Kids, just a few were doing a old style VOR-DME.

Maybe its to much a burden when flying online, but moving maps, FMC's and such are the thing.

 

Personally, I find them boring in the sim. (not in real life!) and like the difficulty added with old school stuff.. hence calclassic.com

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Principally U.K. authors. The U.K. was far behind the US, in regards to GPS. Examples such as WAAS, etc. Most references are over ten years old, with the most current over eight years old. 

On the flightsim side.. I looked at youtube for VATSIM vid's, and was stunned that 99% are Magenta Kids, just a few were doing a old style VOR-DME.

Maybe its to much a burden when flying online, but moving maps, FMC's and such are the thing.

 

Personally, I find them boring in the sim. (not in real life!) and like the difficulty added with old school stuff.. hence calclassic.com

I too,hardly ever use GPS for flight simulation. Most of my flights are GA mountain areas. 

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Me too.

I like to plan carefully, and with an old DC3 or DC4 backdated in the old days I like te added thrill and fear to see if I can make it to the destination as planned.

Of course, in the sim with FSATC it is straight on. I dont yet tried with VATSIM, I think I need a copilot because of the unpredictability in ATC, they might send you to FMC intersections I cannot cope with... brrr... the horror! the horror!

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For a real thrill I drag out my Connie and the Bubble Sextant addon available here at AVSIM and do celestial nav.  What a hoot!

 

Randy

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YES.. I don dare to to that, but it must be an awesome flight when it works out.

Or you crash in the ocean..

 

:Silly:

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Larry, you missed the point of the video if you think it is showing out against GPS or against using automation.

 

The video talks about how one must recognize when indirectly flying the airplane and trying to command the automation to do things that can be done more rapidly and safely using lower levels of automation or no automation at all.

 

The point in the video where they talk about switching runways and intercepting the new approach path is a perfect example of this. Why waste time trying to load all the new data into the navigation system when you can get on course and then engage the automation to take over? Why risk blowing past the final course?

 

How about the situation where a midair was about the happen and the pilot could only worry about dialing in new inputs into the autopilot instead of simply briefly hand flying out of the way of the traffic?

 

Automation is great, but it can't read minds, can't respond to ATC, it takes time to program and can be programmed incorrectly. That is the point of the video.

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Nothing wrong with a GPS,but what happen if your electrical system fails? You get a short in the wires that run to the GPS and you have to pull the breaker so it doesn't start a fire. The unit itself fails. You hit a bird and loose the antenna and about a million other things that could go wrong. Do I use GPS in my real world flying? Yes, but I back it up by knowing where I am on a sectional,and use my VORs to triangulate my position to back that up. Doing these things keeps you on your toes and if somthing goes wrong you know exactly where you are.

The other day I picked up the coolsky Dc-9 and it has no GPS or FMC I used VORS to get to my destination and it way really fun and broke up the monotony of cruise. If I fly the NGX or 777 I usually hand fly to cruise then pop the autopilot on and go do something else around the house till TOD.

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Larry, you missed the point of the video if you think it is showing out against GPS or against using automation.

 

The video talks about how one must recognize when indirectly flying the airplane and trying to command the automation to do things that can be done more rapidly and safely using lower levels of automation or no automation at all.

 

The point in the video where they talk about switching runways and intercepting the new approach path is a perfect example of this. Why waste time trying to load all the new data into the navigation system when you can get on course and then engage the automation to take over? Why risk blowing past the final course?

 

How about the situation where a midair was about the happen and the pilot could only worry about dialing in new inputs into the autopilot instead of simply briefly hand flying out of the way of the traffic?

 

Automation is great, but it can't read minds, can't respond to ATC, it takes time to program and can be programmed incorrectly. That is the point of the video.

I didn't miss the point. The video was a direct result of the AA 757 flight into terrain crash, in Cali, Columbia.  As I've said, for the most part, commercial airline GPS was in it's infancy, when the video was produced. At that time, GPS with terrain avoidance databases didn't even exist. The space shuttle did the terrain mapping in the year 2000.  Due to certification, panel mount GPS's were years behind portables. When the Garmin 430/530s became popular for smaller aircraft, they had already been surpassed by the handheld Garmin 296. It had a lot more computing power, and much better resolution. 

 

Point still is....................the video was referred to all time, when it came to flight instructors, as well as flight simmers, when they wanted to make a point, about automation supposeably being somewhat inferior to the time tested basic airman skills. In fact, I was once told, that if I wasn't firing up my OBSs before every cross country..............then I didn't have a right to fly.  Problem was, I hadn't wasted thousands of dollars, to even install Nav radios in my airplane.  I certainly wasn't alone. I knew many airline and military pilots, who also didn't spend thousands to install NAV's in their experimental category aircraft.  As it turns out, my prior aircraft now has a glass panel that includes NAV radios. It's set up for IFR, and owned/flown by a retired 777 pilot.

 

FWIW -- I did have a portable NAV/COMM radio, in addition to two terrain mapping GPS's, which were connected to the airplanes electrical system, as well as having backup batteries. We're also close to 15 years, since a Boeing 737 pilot friend of mine..........has had any issues with momentary GPS loss. The 737-800 that he flies, uses GPS as the main nav system,.

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