Information Is Best Shared In Both Directions
December 1, 2021
With the new ADS-B mandate taking effect last year, many people have recently upgraded their aircraft to include ADS-B Out. This meets the requirement but may not be the absolute best outcome when trying to increase your safety. As with many things, aiming for the minimum often leaves valuable resources on the table.
This summer I did a few cross-country flights around Minnesota. There was a lot of smoke and haze, and the visibility was terrible. It’s still easily VFR but not great visibility and adds a layer of complexity to spotting traffic. I have owned a Stratus ADS-B receiver for years and take it with me for every flight (I rent a lot of different aircraft so this was the best solution for me). On one cross country, I noticed traffic overtaking me. It did not seem to be moving to overtake me on the right and remained at my altitude so I elected to err on the side of safety and initiate a turn, and get out of its way. The other aircraft was no longer on the CTAF, so communication wasn’t an option. I did later hear them with
ATC when I was closer to my destination (ADS-B gave me their callsign). My guess is that they never saw us and that they did not have traffic information provided by ADS-B In.
I’ve always been a pretty old school pilot. I like paper charts. I like cross country via pilotage versus GPS. I like stick and rudder over autopilot. I learned to fly from a WWII vet, in an old Champ, so these things are familiar to me. I am constantly looking around outside the cockpit. When I finally bit the bullet and got my Stratus, I was absolutely floored at how many aircraft I just wasn’t seeing.
The ADS-B In traffic information has been a game changer. My Stratus, combined with ForeFlight, gives me great situational awareness and audible and visual warnings to help keep me safe. It’s one of my top safety tools.
It is pretty easy to get an ADS-B receiver that fits into your budget. There are a variety of models. If you own your own aircraft, I would recommend getting ADS-B In if you can work it with your budget. It really is nice to have. My Stratus is easily portable, works in any airplane, and provides me with traffic and weather data. It’s a rather small investment, but one that could save your life.