In the modern age of electronic flight bags and flight planning apps, you might think that the classic Sportys E6B Flight Computer would struggle with relevance. On the contrary – it is a very useful addition to every student pilot’s equipment list. Read on to find out why.
I’ll be honest with you – Sportys E6B Flight Computer is a dated product. It looks and feels like a cheap LCD calculator from the 1980’s. It has a limited set of functions, and leaves a lot to be desired in the usability department.
That said, I recommend the product to student pilots, for a number of reasons. Firstly, it is approved for use in FAA examinations, and it will make your life easier in this use case. Secondly, it is a reliable product with a great battery life that is tried and trusted by hundreds of thousands of pilots.
The unit offers a number of useful features, mainly relating to flight planning. It can perform calculations such as density altitude, leg time, fuel burned, wind correction, weight and balance, and much, much more. While it may be a little clunky to use, it will help you minimise human mathematical errors in your flight planning by taking you through the calculations step by step, without you having to remember the equations.
As well as providing these essential functions, the calculator provides a number of additional features to make your life easier, including unit conversions, and a very welcome screen backlight that makes the device fairly usable in dim cockpit scenarios.
I use ForeFlight for my flight planning now I have my certificate, but I used my trusty Sportys E6B Flight Computer extensively during my student days. I do believe that running through the calculations manually while training gives you a deeper understanding of the process, and will make you a better pilot – and I recommend to all student pilots that they do the same. After you transition to more sophisticated and automated planning tools, such as ForeFlight, the Sportys E6B Flight Computer will still earn its place in your flight bag – it serves as a competent and reliable backup tool and I never fly without mine.
5/10 – but get it anyway.