As the airshow at Arlington starts today, it gives us a chance
to learn a lot and to meet some interesting people. In the
main exhibit tent, at booth 82, you can find the friendly
folks at Seattle Avionics. They've offered us, and you, a free
demonstration of Voyager 2.5, their newest flight planning
We're glad to do it. We review and announce all sorts of
products here at Aero-News Network. We tear into avionics, gadgets,
books, videos, software and hardware. And woe be unto the brave
souls who entrust an aircraft to our Editor-in-Chief.
The company says Voyager Premier is the most modern, easiest to
use flight planner on the market, and they're willing to back it
up. It includes powerful features like the true 3D wind-optimized
SmartRouter, high-performance aircraft modeling, integrated
satellite and radar overlays and seamless Internet connectivity to
get you from planning to flying in record time.
Voyager Express is a simpler, low cost version for the
occasional flyer. It includes much of the power of Voyager Premier
but with less customization and fewer options. When you try it,
you'll be aware of how Express makes it fast and easy to input your
destination and quickly generate a safe, complete flight plan.
You'll find a fully functional download on the company
website to try for ten days. They'll be glad to put a CD in the
mail for you if you don't have the bandwidth to
download it. A premier and an express version are both
included in the download.
But who's behind Seattle Avionics?
The business is four years old, and was started by Steve
Podradchik and John Rutter.
Mr. Podradchik, the CEO and co-founder of Seattle Avionics has a
history of starting and running technology companies. He'd been
very successful and eventually was able to pursue his aviation
interests. He started Seattle Avionics because the whole experience
of planning cross-country trips, both as a student and later as a
private pilot, seemed far too cumbersome with the software then on
Mr. Rutter, President & Acting VP/Sales and Marketing, was
an executive management consultant with a background in technology
and marketing. John's interest in aviation began when he was nine
years old, flying right seat in a 172 with his uncle in
They thought they could produce a better flight planning
software package, and the two of them got together to form Seattle
We spoke with Robert Hamilton, Vice President of Operations to
get the story behind the story. He joined Seattle Avionics two
years ago after a long career in technical businesses. He's been a
pilot for 25 years.
Seattle Avionics has the goal to become the premier software
company in the aviation industry. They have a small group of
pilots, who are familiar with the software and work together to
support the customers.
"Everybody does everything," said Hamilton. "We answer the
phones, talk customers through any questions, take orders,
The company is also sponsor of The Eagle
Flight, a non-profit organization dedicated to
instilling the spirit of exploration through aviation to youth
around the globe.. Jared Aicher, The Eagle Flight pilot, and his
ground support team are using Voyager Flight Planning Software to
chart his route to over 60 destinations around North America.
Anyone here not spent two hours planning a one hour
flight as a student pilot? It's important to do a few
times to learn what it's about. But after that is where Voyager
To plan a flight the conventional way requires multiple steps
and multiple sources of information, much of which can go out of
date rapidly. From getting the proper chart, drawing your course,
checking for restricted airspace or hazards, getting weather,
measuring the course, filling out the trip log, the list goes
on and on.
Voyager is designed to replace most of that process. It goes out
to eight different sources of information across the internet to
pull in the weather, TFRs, and the current airport information. It
pulls down a DUATS briefing and generates a record of your request
to keep you legal.
If you're an AOPA member, it'll even pull up the Airport
Directory information. Trust me, if you've ever been trying to
figure out where to divert to after dark, that information (hours
of operation, phone numbers, etc.) is handy to have, and it's not
in the AFD.
Their first product was designed to use at home. After planning
your flight, you could print out charts and trip logs to take to
the airport. It was primarily designed for the single engine
As they've upgraded their software, they've continued to add
capabilities while maintaining an intuitive feel. It's relatively
simple to use, and easily customizable for more advanced users. A
pilot flying a 172 can use the software and so can the pilot flying
You can file your flight plan, check your weight and balance,
and much more. And yes, you can still print out charts and a trip
log if you like.
The Voyager 2.5 software is designed to take a pilot from the
desk to the hangar to the cockpit with all of the vital data that
is needed to conduct a safe flight.
Tutorials included in the system can get you up and running
quickly. Many aircraft are already profiled, and the profiles can
be easily customized to fit the plane you fly. Simple flights can
be planned in just a few minutes, and more complicated trips will
be well planned much more efficiently.
The software incorporates an optimize feature to help you plan
for the most efficient trip also. It takes winds aloft into account
as well as your aircrafts performance at different altitudes.
The company also produces SmartPlates, and SmartPlates for
Pocket PCs which keeps all of your approach plates current without
ongoing fees and hassle. Also, FlightCalc is an Electronic E6B with
Weight & Balance program for pocket PCs.
Hamilton promised more good news is coming in time for Oshkosh.
In the mean time, we'll dig a little deeper into this software and
put it through the paces. Stay tuned for a full report.