FROM THE LOGBOOK: The “Ubiquitous” Computer is Here to Stay!

Are you ready to be one with the beast?

 Jim Trusty 2012

             Ubiquitous—adj.—existing or being everywhere; widespread; constantly encountered.  This definition from Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary really and truly describes the computer.  And you say, not in my house!  Don’t be too sure. 

             At the present time less than 50% of the pilot population can operate a computer and by 2015 some 75% of a normal flight can be helped or conducted with the use of one.  It starts with AFSS and certainly spreads quickly to ATCT.  If you haven’t already, you need to get ready for these changes.  What you don’t know how to do could ground you, or at the very least limit your flying time.  By next year at this time they will be able to interface with your computer and go over the entire planned flight, route, and weather before you leave the house.  If you think that the government is going to let us keep flying anywhere that we want to without being locked in on a filed flight plan, you have not been paying attention. 

             Help comes in the form of classes, books, discs, CDs, DVDs, grandchildren, magazines, the local library, friends who have already mastered this adventure and anyone else that will listen to our plight, and every other way that we absorb information.  All these things and more are available for you to learn how to use the computer.  And if you ever sit down with that piece of equipment and see all that it has to offer, you’ll be glad that the learning process has finally kicked in at your house and will wonder why you waited so long to get started. 

             The computer is a gateway to a storehouse of information, selected by you and controlled by the software that you install and what you call up when you want information.  There are no recorded instances of a computer biting, harming, or killing a user, although I have heard the user threaten the computer with bodily harm and various other forms of personal abuse. 

             Cost cannot hold you back any more because for $200 you can get a used model to learn on and then for about $1,000 you can get a new one that does more than you know how to ask for, and for $2,000 you can get top of the line equipment completely set up for exactly what you need, including a printer and some other stuff that you will use about twice a year.  Some of them have technology so advanced that they can do more tricks than Tarzan can with a hundred feet of grapevine.  You may not need that now but eventually you will. 

             The best way to learn, I think, is to sit down with a user friendly instructional aid of your choice (and this may change a couple of times a day), and just get started.  First let me make you aware that the computer doesn’t do anything on its own.  If something goofy pops up, you hit a key that brought it up.   Yes, you did it.  It is not a criminal offense and you didn’t break anything, so move on.  The magic is in your fingertips and trying to remember what is stored and where to find it.  Write this down so you can say it over and over: if the worst case scenario happens, like something just popping up on the screen or the whole thing going blank, just turn it off and start again.  We call this re-booting.  Easy repair when you first start using the computer, and it might happen often until you develop your “touch.”

             Until that magic day when everything you do is accepted as input, and most of us are still waiting for that day to come, you will become a master in re-booting.  In your chosen method of learning you may also have to mentally go back to those typing classes you blew off in high school to get some relief for those two sore fingers that you have.  It also makes the entire process a lot quicker if you actually type.  Start by using your thumb to hit the spacer bar and then add a finger a week until you get both hands involved with the task.  It really comes pretty quickly because the whole process is such an interesting experience.

             I see this happening to everyone that gets introduced to the computer and really enjoy watching their eyes light up as they learn something new almost hourly.  There is no short cut other than spending additional time with the chore.  The dividend is the fact that you are using your mind again after a long layoff, some since their years in school.   

             The energy saved is worth every bit of money and time that you will spend

at the station you have designed for your work area.  I used to spend 4 hours at least three times a week at the library researching articles for magazines.  Now I can get more results in 20 minutes than I will ever need and they are more current and easier to verify and prove correct.  It has brought some joy back into my writing and I personally think that my work has improved. 

             Let’s get started!  There is a lot to do.  Where are you going to work?  Where are you going to find that first machine?  Who are you going to call when you hit a snag?  How much time can you devote to this learning process?  What is e-mail?  What did you hit to bring up that page?  Do you give up easily when presented with a new and hard task? 

              You’ll notice that I did not include my telephone number at the bottom of this article but I did leave my e-mail address and would be proud to hear from you.  Tell me all about how you reached this point so that I can pass it on to others.  Remember, all this work and fun and education will let us fly longer and safer as the sky gets more and more regulated.  And I really hate to bring this up but the computer is everywhere, TV, automobiles, household appliances, cameras, your watch, and almost any other electronic gadget that we see and use on a daily basis, and the trend is growing.  They have found that it is cheaper and easier to warehouse information in that box than it is to trust the human mind. 

             Now the two greatest words any writer ever wrote, in closing, don’t think because I have dwelt on aviation, being a pilot myself, that these problems can’t affect your chosen profession also.  Today is the day for you to get started.  Let’s get you computerized.                                             


Written permission from the author required to reprint this copyrighted article (2012)


Just remember this when you make a mistake on the machine, we call it a PICNIC.  What that means is: Problem In Chair, Not In Computer.


JAMES E. (Jim) TRUSTY,  ATP/CFI/IGI/AGI,  was named the FAA/Aviation Industry National Flight Instructor of the Year  for 1997, and the 2011 Regional Safety Team Representative of the Year.  He still works full-time as a Corporate 135 Pilot/ “Gold Seal” Flight & Ground Instructor/ FAA  Safety Program Lead Representative/ National Aviation Magazine Writer.  You have been enjoying his work since 1973 in publications worldwide.  If you have comments, questions, complaints, or compliments, please e-mail them directly to him, and he will certainly respond.  Thank You.  (              (




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