A few days ago I attended the AOPA Air Safety Foundation’s (ASF) safety seminar GPS from the Ground Up. It was the first presentation of this new seminar in the ASF series. Since that night the seminar has been presented several more times on the U.S. West Coast.

The presenter was Andy Miller, a veteran presenter of ASF seminars. As would be expected with the first ‘live’ presentation, there were a couple of minor glitches with the audiovisual system and this first run-through went a little longer than scheduled, but overall the night want smoothly.

What the seminar did not cover

The seminar did not attempt to teach the attendees how GPS uses the satellite signals to calculate position. Nor did the seminar  cover the specific button-pushing operations of the various GPS units that are currently available, other than in a very general way.

What the seminar did cover

Information was presented on the utility of  units from handhelds up to the Garmin G-1000 and the progression from area navigation (RNAV) up to today’s latest WAAS approach capabilities. The material was organized in a ‘phase of flight’ sequence. Each phase of a representative flight was related to the steps in GPS operation that would be accomplished during that phase and how those steps would impact the operation of the aircraft or how the GPS unit could be used to increase the situational awareness of the pilot during that phase of the flight. An example would be using the GPS on a VFR  flight when arriving at the destination to provide orientation with the landing runway by programming in a “runway extension.”  Helpful hints like this were supplemented with ‘gotchas,’ GPS quirks or operations which have caused problems for pilots in the past.

The bottom line

The seminar presented non-specific GPS information in a well organized manner reinforced with real-life examples gleaned from actual ASRS and NTSB reports. Though the information was primarily generic in nature, the seminar will be educational for both novice and experienced GPS users. It will be worth your time to attend one of your local seminars.

Attendance at the seminar qualifies for the ground instruction portion of the FAA Wings Pilot Proficiency Awards Program. The AIG aircraft insurance program recognizes the value of attending an AOPA ASF safety seminar by waiving the insurance deductible if you have an accident within 6 months of attending a seminar. An attendance certificate will also be accepted by the FAA as a waiver of any required remedial training.

If you cannot attend one of many presentations of the seminar, you can download the ASF GPS from the Ground Up Safety Advisor brochure in PDF format.

As a bonus at the Reno seminar we were treated to some of the new AOPA safety spots that you may be seeing on TV in the coming months. They are directed at general aviation pilots and use humor to emphasize to the problem areas that are seen in general aviation operations.  Here is one directed at the problems we continue to have with fuel management.