This customer goes with Garmin by air, land and sea


Now it was time to buy my first airplane. I became a private pilot in 1986 and an instrument-rated pilot in 1996 but had always rented airplanes up to this point. In mid-2001, I joined four other pilots in purchasing a 1968 Piper Cherokee 180 (a four seat, single engine airplane). Our first decision after the purchase was to upgrade the avionics. Another one of my clients who was a partner on this airplane insisted that we had to put in a Garmin GNS 430 navigation/communication unit. He sold aviation insurance and said the people he insured universally preferred the Garmin unit over other brands. I had used another company’s moving map GPS unit and had always felt like the data entry process was like using reverse logic. Our Garmin 430 installation was finished right at the time 9/11 occurred. Since you had to file an instrument flight plan to fly in the days after 9/11 and I was the only instrument-rated pilot in our ownership group, I pretty much had the airplane to myself for awhile. I quickly grew to love and appreciate the intuitive data entry interface and the clear map data on the 430.

Rich, plane panel After owning the Piper Cherokee for a few years, it was time to move up to a bigger and more capable airplane. We found a 1967 Piper Aztec (a twin engine, six seat airplane) that had a good airframe and good engine times. The instrument panel, however, was sorely lacking. So, we went back to the Garmin catalog and installed a Garmin GNS 530 navigation/communication unit and a Garmin GTX-327 transponder. This big, old bird served us well for the next three years and that Garmin 530 took me everywhere from Santa Monica, CA to Tampa, FL to the hills of Pennsylvania over the next three years. Until you have experienced the enhanced safety and situational awareness that this GPS technology brings to the cockpit of general aviation aircraft, you can’t really believe it. We have at our disposal capabilities that weren’t available even in jets a few short years ago.

It was now 2006 and time for our next big move up the aircraft complexity and capability ladder. For the first time, we were actually smart enough to purchase an airplane that already had the Garmin equipment installed. We bought a 1973 Cessna 340 Ram IV (a turbocharged, pressurized, six seat, twin engine airplane). With a service ceiling of 29,000 feet, this was a bird that could actually get into the weather we were usually flying under or around. Even though it already came with a Garmin 530 and a Garmin GTX-330 transponder with traffic information displayed on the 530, we wanted the NEXRAD radar information that was now available. Another trip to the Garmin store and we had installed a GPSMAP 396 in the panel with not only XM weather but also XM satellite radio piped through the intercom system. My wife, Lisa, was impressed!  

2008 proved to be a major transition in my professional life. I had been elected to the national board of directors of the Financial Planning Association at the end of 2005. In late 2007, I was elected by the board as President-Elect and would serve an additional three-year term on the executive committee. I knew this would mean more travel (much more travel!) and I wanted to be prepared. Another discussion with my client/Garmin associate and I ended up with a Garmin nüvi 760 automotive GPS. For the next three years, whenever I was packing for a business trip, the 760 went into the backpack. There is great comfort in knowing that no matter where you get off the jet, that you will have instant navigation capability and guidance as you drive to your next meeting.

Rich, family-sm As the old saying goes “all good things must come to an end” and in April 2010, we sold the Cessna 340. As sad as that was, it offered the opportunity to move on to the next stage of my Garmin experience. Air Associates had started leasing a 2009 Cessna Corvalis 350. This aircraft featured the full Garmin G1000 avionics package as well as the GFC 700 autopilot. Once again, the state-of-the-art in general aviation (and aviation in general, for that matter) had been pushed forward by a quantum leap in technology. Having flown behind a 530 and a 430 over the years, I was immediately comfortable with the data input process of the G1000. It took multiple hours of flying, however, to fully appreciate the degree to which this system takes workload off the pilot and enhances the safety of flying.

Rich, motorcycle Zumo, weather 2010 also saw my GPS ownership envelope increase in one more area. For a few years I had contemplated buying one of the new motorcycle GPS units from Garmin. Even though I was intrigued, I wasn’t quite ready to pull the trigger. Then I started reading about the new Garmin zumo 665 that not only had a larger touchscreen (glove ready) but also had the capability to interface with my ScalaRider helmet headset AND had NEXRAD weather and XM satellite radio. The July 4th holiday weekend found me on my Harley Davidson Road King motorcycle headed 400 miles north to the Missouri River in northeast Nebraska. Let me tell you, when that zumo 665 pops up with a message that says “rain in the area,” you had best pay attention. Five minutes later it was pouring!  

Recently, I wrote a check for 1/3 ownership of a 1966 Beechcraft V35 Bonanza. As you can imagine, it already has a Garmin GNS 530 and GPSMAP 496 installed. So the next stage of my aircraft ownership experience is about to take flight. Looking back over the past 10 years, it is hard to believe how much GPS technology has advanced and in how many ways it has intersected my life.

During the past several years, I have been doing more outdoor running. My Garmin client keeps telling me about these really cool GPS fitness watches. They log your miles, show your speed and even allow you to see your course on the computer.  Maybe Santa Claus will show up with one in my Christmas stocking this year!

The post This customer goes with Garmin by air, land and sea appeared first on Garmin Blog.

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