Mastering the Art of the Garmin Update
by Hank Gibson, CSIP, Gold Seal CFI, CFII, MEI, AGI
(Disclaimer: The following is specific to the Garmin Perspective in Cirrus Aircraft. As far as the author’s knowledge goes, the procedure is very similar for stock G1000 systems in other aircraft. Consult the Garmin Manual for the G1000 for specifics.)
You have finally upgraded from an Avidyne equipped aircraft to a Garmin glass panel. Admittedly, there are a lot more buttons, but yet so much more capability. You spend the first several weeks after your transition training flying around, mostly VFR, getting the hang of things. At the end of the month, you turn on the MFD and see that your NavData is expired. No need to worry, right? You go grab your Jeppesen card reader that worked with your old Garmin 430s, then look around for the cards. You find them, in their proper card slots, but unfortunately, they are SD cards, not the old 430 cards. Confusion and panic begins to set in before you realize you have no earthly idea how to update your Garmin.
No need to fear, we are hear to alleviate all your Garmin update confusion. Below is a step by step process to updating your Garmin panel.
How to Update the Garmin Cards
- Take both Garmin cards out of the bottom slots of the PFD and MFD
- DO NOT FORMAT THE CARDS
- Download the updates from fly.garmin.com
- Re-insert cards back into the PFD and MFD using the instructions below
(Hint: anything on JSUM that says Garmin goes on the Garmin card. Everything else goes on the SD card)
- Take an SD card (make sure it’s blank or just format it on the computer) and download the Jeppessen Nav Data onto the card
- Put the card in both the MFD and the PFD, turning on the batteries and avionics to allow the system to update with the card in each slot
- Take one of the Garmin cards out of either the PFD or MFD and download the Garmin information from the JSUM program
- Place Garmin card in slot removed from, turn the system on, allow it to update, then turn everything off and swap the cards, turning the system on again and allowing it to update
Below is a synopsis of what is actually on each card.
The Top MFD Card
- Download the Jeppesen NavData onto a blank SD card
- The card must be blank or else the information won’t download properly
- To erase the card, simply format it on your computer
- Insert the SD card into the top MFD slot, turn on the Batter and Avionics Master Switches, and let the download begin
- Once download is complete, remove the card (or else the MFD will ask you if you want to update every time you turn it on)
- To record flight data, insert a blank SD card in the slot after the download is complete (should be in FAT32 Formatting)
The Bottom MFD Card
- The Garmin SD card goes here
- DO NOT FORMAT THE GARMIN CARDS
- Contains Garmin Information
- Obstacle Database
- Garmin Flite Charts (if not using Jepp Charts)
The Top PFD Card
- Use the same SD card you used in the top MFD slot to update the Jeppesen NavData on the PFD
- Turn on the Battery Master Switches and let it update
- Once complete, remove the card
- This slot will stay open
The Bottom PFD Card
- Also a Garmin card; again, DO NOT FORMAT
- Contains Garmin information for the PFD
- Obstacle Database
Hopefully, after reviewing this and performing the updates several times, your confusion will be alleviated. It is more complex then the simple Garmin 430 and Avidyne update, but it will go very smoothly once you get the hang of it.
How it Started
One of my best friends in high school, (Doug Gray) was a private pilot. He offered to take me up for a flight in a 1967 Cessna 150, N6228S. We took off from Calhoun, Georgia, and he took me on a scenic tour of the area, I was hooked. I later found out that my English teacher, (Jan Haluska) was also a flight instructor and the school was offering a ground school course the next year, which he taught, along with flight training with the goal of becoming a private pilot. I managed to talk my dad into funding the training, at the time the total cost was right around $500. Cessna 150 rental rates where $12 an hour, and the 172 we used for cross country was $15 an hour including fuel.
It started August of 1977. The fall semester rolls around, and I am enrolled in ground school, and if memory serves me, we met twice a week. First came the paperwork for my student pilot certificate, which at the time was included with the 3rd class medical. I loved ground school, especially learning navigation, plotting courses on the sectional, again this was before iPads and GPS, so we did a lot of dead reckoning and VOR navigation for cross countries. At the end of the course, I made an 83% on the Private Pilot written exam, remember this was before we had the question-and-answer books that on future test I would consume before taking a written.
The fun really began on August 22, 1977, it was my first flight. To my surprise we used the same Cessna 150, N6228S that my friend Doug Gray had taken me for a ride in. The Cessna 150 had a standard VFR instrument panel, with one NAV/COM, and one VOR CDI. No intercom, so no headset, at the time I didn’t know what I was missing. I didn’t get my first headset until I started my instrument training in 2003. I was a big guy, I was 6’ 4” and weighed 245 lbs. but I do not remember being uncomfortable in the 150 even with the instructor in the right seat.
First flight lasted .8 hours, and we accomplished orentation, shallow turns, stability, and effects of flight controls. Over the next few months we added steep 720’s, slow flight, stalls, turns around a point, S-turns, emergencies, landings, (short field, soft field and normal).
At this point I want to talk about a training experience that still stands out. We were close to solo and were practicing takeoffs and landings. Turning base to final Jan got very upset at the way I was cross controlling the aircraft. Cross control is when you are in, say a left turn, and use opposite rudder to line the nose up with the runway. So, he had me depart the pattern and head east to the practice area, and climbing up to 5500 feet MSL, he had me slow down to just above stalling speed, start a left shallow turn and add right rudder. As the airplane stalled I had the strangest sensation, no roller coaster has ever come close, instead of blue sky in the windscreen I was looking at brown ground, and as far as I could tell we were upside down, through the terror of the moment Jan talked me out of the spin, controls neutral, oposite rudder, pull slowly out of the dive. As we leveled off he asked me what altitude we were at, as I remember it was around 2,800 feet MSL. Then he asked me what would happen if I experenced this on base to final in the traffic pattern. The answer was obvious, I would be a pile of wreckage off the end of the runway with a very short-lived aviation career. Needless to say this cured my cross-control tendencies.
Another training event the sticks out in my mind was the first time we did takeoffs and landings at the High School runway. The runway was 1,500 feet long, not sure of the width, but it seems like we had about 5 feet on each side of the wheels when on the center line of the runway. Landing from the south you also had to go between a cutout in the trees to be able to stop in time on the runway. After getting confortable landing here every runway since seemed huge. I remember landing at Chattanooga (KCHA) on a night cross country and commenting to Jan, that I felt like I could of landed sideways on the runway, it felt that large.
Very soon after this I started wearing old shirts to all my flight lessons, the reason for this occurred on February 8, 1978. The lesson that day was stalls, takeoffs and Landing. As we were taxing back in Jan told me it was time for my first solo. I was very excited, and after some last minute advice from Jan, including watch for floating on landing the plane will be light with him not in the right seat, complete 3 takeoffs and landings to a full stop. It was a blast, and at the end of my shirt was shorter in the back because Jan cut the tail out of it signed and dated my solo [an aviation tradition]. Total flight time accumulated on the day of my solo was 18.1 hours. I was now officially a pilot with solo priveleges.
In my next article I start cross country training, when Jan decided that it would be best accomplished this in the 172. Checking out in N5970R was like moving into a 747, this started a love affair with one of my faviriote planes to date. Since this time I have flown over 900 hours in many different models of the 172 and feel like I am stepping into an old friend every time.
More about Randy here: https://www.flyhpa.com/team/randy-delong/
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