The flight to Perth and back was totally VFR. My friend had a Garmin AVD55, so we installed a cigarette lighter socket in the plane, attached the GPS to the right hand control column, and away we went.

All I can say about the GPS is that is an incredibly clever piece of electronics. You don't need an ADF, and while I have no background in VORs or DMEs, I would suggest that these are not necessary either. You can almost get rid of you altimeter.

The GPS can be used to save money for mug pilots like myself that tend to fly between way points rather than direct. The five or so minutes you can save will all add up.

In the leg Esperance to Caiguna, I gave a SARTIME for a direct flight, and used the GPS to track. We plotted our position every few minutes, and on looking back on the points, I was never more than a mile out. If I had gone down in this trackless, radioless area, I reckon we could "crashed" right on track. And hopefully the ELT would have pinpointed us exactly.

In case there was a "power failure", we carried a few sets of dry cells, enough for a few hours.

It wasn't all plain sailing, a way point was incorrectly entered and my mate was adamant that I was off course. I kept to the WACs, and eventually plotting position, the error was detected, fixed, and both he and I were happy.

It is all very well to say RTFM, but there is a learning curve in using the GPS. Firstly, the manual either explained inadequately, or assummed a level of knowledge of GPS that was beyond our understanding. We eventually learnt, but two of the problems were:

1. The Course Deviation Indicator, CDI, was misinterpreted, and ignored for that reason. Eventually, the correct interpretation was made, and all was well after that.
2. It has "endless" facilities, and only by playing around with the GPS can you learn to use them all. One problem was although we could calculate end of daylight, we could not determine the time (our watches were set in 3 different time zones). This resulted in an unnecessary precautionary landing.

The trip took 47 hours, at the 42 hour point, we reckoned we knew all about it!

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