It will be great if the iPad works for us in every situation or use-case when we take it out of the box. But the reality is, it needs (quite a bit of) support to really optimise the user experience. Here we share five accessories that will make a huge difference to general aviation (GA) pilots who use their iPads when they fly.
Mounts (for iPads) perform a really important role in the cockpit. They hold on to the iPad securely in a position that allows the pilot to access information easily without getting in the pilot's way. If you are unfamiliar with this space, it can get a little bit daunting because there seem to be so many options and configurations out there.
But when we really break it down, there are usually 2 parts to it: there is the part that holds on to a stable part of the plane cockpit and then there is the part that holds on to the iPad. For example in the image above, on one end is the RAM X-Grip which is a universal holder for 7-8" tablets. Then on the other end is the Claw Yoke Mount which secures the whole mount to the Yoke.
Different RAM mounts.
So depending where you want to secure the mount in the cockpit, you would pick the right type of mount for it (Claw, suction cup, adhesive, or drill down etc). And if your iPad already has a case [maybe you use our cooling case ;) ], you would want to pick a universal holder like the RAM X-Grip or the RAM Tab-Tite holder. Besides RAM Mount, companies like MyGoFlight and Arkon also has mounting systems that work similarly.
Kneeboards are alternatives to mounts when pilots can't find a suitable spot for mounts in the cockpit; usually because there is limited space or it might just be a personal preference. Kneeboards can be simply velcro straps with clips (eg MyClip or AppStrap) or they can be elaborate with pockets and organisers that holds cables, notepads, pens and more. Just pick one that suits your needs.
2) Screen protector
Most of us would know that the screen on our devices (smart phones or iPads) can crack if we accidentally drop them or drop something on them. Compared to a crack anywhere else on the body of the iPad, a crack on the screen is the most annoying. The crack on the screen interferes with what we need to see.
That's why a screen protector is a must have for our iPads if we want to extend the (usable) life of it. In the event that the screen protector cracks, it is much cheaper to replace the screen protector than the iPad screen. As a bonus, there are screen protectors with anti-glare coatings so it reduces the glare/reflections when you are using it in the sun. But sometimes when the sunlight is too overpowering, the next accessory will come in handy.
As mentioned briefly in the last point, sunshades for iPads will block out sunlight, preventing it from shining on the iPad screen and reflecting it back to your eyes or making it hard (impossible) to read or see what is on the screen. There is the option to just use our hands to shield the screen but why not have a sunshade to do the job properly and save the trouble.
4) Power bank
The iPads do have a decent battery life. In a test ran by a Youtuber, where he was streaming Youtube videos, playing games, rendering videos and recording videos, the fully charged iPad mini 6 lasted 6 hours 17 minutes. Even then, it is always safe to carry backup juice for your device. A 10,000 mAh power bank will allow you to charge the iPad mini 6 twice.
Power bank - source: powerbankguide.com
5) Apple Pencil (1 or 2)
The Apple Pencil is a great accessory for the iPad. It is great for note taking, annotating on charts (on certain EFB apps) or simply sketching or doodling. And if you use the Apple Pencil 2, there are lots of useful shortcuts and features that will take your note taking and possibly your productivity to the next level. Check out this video by Stef Drury where he shares some cool features of the iPad mini 6 and Apple Pencil 2.
Lastly, [as a bonus :D ] if you fly in warmer weather and in the sun, you would definitely benefit from having an iPad cooling case!
Our latest iPad mini 6 cooling case works with lots of the mounting options and kneeboards mentioned above and it has its own battery (sorry can't charge the iPad mini with it though). Plus, it has got a slot for the Apple Pencil 2 so it won't fall out easily and it still gets charged!
P.S. if you think we left out any iPad accessory that is really helpful to pilots, please share with us in a comment below!