Free-flying with a tablet? Not very serious would say a lot of enthusiasts, unwilling to take a fragile and rather bulky device with them. However, the arrival of the iPad mini and specialized accessories changes the situation: long live high-resolution touch-screen assisted piloting!
The practice of paragliding or hang-gliding requires to take into account many parameters in order to manage its flight in an optimal way. It is a question of flying in good safety conditions while trying to stay in the air as long as possible. On-board electronic assistants are becoming more and more numerous: alti-variometers, GPS, speed sensors, anemometers, even weather stations...
And if we put it all in an iPad?
The first parameter to integrate before flying from is obviously the state of the weather. A lot of specialized applications available on your tablet will provide all data necessary: Temperature, cloud cover, humidity and especially the strength of the winds. In addition it is possible to watch live weather some sites off through webcams installed nearby.
Moreover, we can see on the screen of the iPad topography all angles, identify barriers, site effects and potential dangers and consider the various landing zones possible.
Most paragliders use an alti-variometer to guide them during their flight. However, it is possible to replace these specialized devices with a more versatile iPad. Indeed, complete and precise applications, developed by professionals of free flight, are available on the appstore (see our selection of the best applications). Using the GPS, accelerometer or gyroscope built-in your iPad, they offer similar information to the various flight instruments. For example, they can tell you your absolute altitude and your altitude relative to the takeoff point, vertical speed, sink rate, tracked heading or GPS position in longitude and latitude.
Moreover, if you are in doubt about the location, a glance at the topographic map displayed on its high-resolution screen may get you out of a tight spot.
The iPad also offers the ability to record the track of all your flights and then view them in 3D on Google Earth for analysis and sharing with other enthusiasts.
On a more playful level, you can also record beautiful videos and photos of your flight to share them on social networks.
As the number of electronic equipment that can be taken along in flight is particularly limited in free flight, the iPad and its versatility could prove to be the perfect compromise, especially in the iPad mini version.