I usually love to read manuals, but not GPS manuals. I find them to be a better reference after you figure out some of the basics rather than a guide to learn the GPS from scratch. Sometimes I look for quick reference guides and I end up getting a month’s worth of reading. After digging into the functions of the X-Plane Garmin 430 in the Airfoillabs Cessna 172, I thought I’d share my notes with you in the form of a quick reference guide. This isn’t every little thing you need to know, and it doesn’t include the IFR capabilities of the unit, but if you are looking to get on your feet with a 430, this will get you there. There are a lot of similarities in the X-Plane Garmin 430 and the actual Garmin 430, so learning the functions in the sim not only helps in the sim, but it makes for an easier transition to the airplane. It might not model all the features (like user waypoints), but nailing down a few of the basic concepts can add a lot of value to your flying. Here are 10 functions of the X-Plane Garmin 430 to know and master.
The left knob controls your frequencies. The big knob adjusts the big number (left of decimal), and the small knob adjusts the small number (right of decimal). Pushing the left knob (“Push C/V”) toggles between the Com and Nav frequencies. You always enter a frequency in the standby (highlighted) position and then flip it into the active position with the C or V flip flop keys.
Pages And Page Groups
The different screens in the Garmin 430 are grouped into pages and page groups. Use the large right knob to scroll between the page groups and the small right hand knob to scroll through the pages in the page group. In X-Plane, the page groups are NAV, WPT and NRST. Note the little white boxes on the bottom will show you how many pages are in a page group as well as which one you are on.
Default Nav Page
Press and hold the CLR key to get back to the Default Nav page, which is a great starting point if you get lost in the pages. This is the first page in the NAV page group.
Viewing The Map
The map is the second page in the NAV page group. To access it, start from your Default Nav page (press and hold clear to get there) and small right knob over one.
Direct to an airport
If you know the airport or waypoint you want to navigate to, simply press the Direct To key (the D with an arrow through it) to open up the Select Waypoint page. From there, turning your small right knob will begin scrolling through letters for the first character in the identifier. Use the large right knob to move to the next character. Once the right identifier is entered, press the Enter key twice to load and display your destination.
Finding The Nearest Airport
If you are flying along and want to know what airports are nearby, start from the Default Nav page and turn the large right knob twice to land on the NRST page group. The first page shown will be a list of airports in order of their distance away. Push the right knob (“Push CRSR”) to activate the cursor on the page. From there, scroll through the list with your large right knob. If you land on one you’d like to navigate to, simply press the Direct To key when the airport is highlighted to bring up that airport in the Select Waypoint page. Press enter to activate it.
Looking Up Airport Information
Once you have a destination airport entered, from the Default Nav page, turn the large right knob over one to the WPT page group and then turn the small right knob over one to the second page. You’ll see a basic runway layout of the airport. Push the right knob (“Push CRSR”) to activate the cursor on the page. Now turning the small right knob will scroll through the runways, giving you their length, width and surface type.
Entering A Flight Plan
Pressing the FPL key brings up a FPL page group with two pages. Note that this FPL page group can’t be accessed with the large right knob like the rest of the page groups. It’s special and has its own button. On the first page, push the right knob (“Push CRSR”) to activate the cursor on the page. From there, turn your small right knob to begin scrolling through letters for the first character in the identifier. Use the large right knob to move to the next character. Once the correct identifier is entered, press the Enter key twice to add that waypoint to the flight plan list. As long as the cursor is active on the Flight Plan list, the large right knob will scroll up and down the list. To add a waypoint in front of another one, highlighting the one you want to insert in front of. Delete a waypoint by highlighting it and pressing the CLR key, followed by ENTER when asked if you want to delete the waypoint. Pressing Menu will open up a menu of options that includes saving the flight plan, deleting the flight plan, and inverting the flight plan. If you save it, you’ll find it in the second page of the FPL page group (small right knob over without the cursor active on the page). Inverting it simply reverses the waypoints, which is handy for a trip back from where you just came.
You can select more than just airports as waypoints. The database includes VOR stations, NDBs (which are becoming harder to find), GPS waypoints (which look like a four point star on the sectional chart) and intersections of victor airways, which will have a five letter identifier on the sectional.
The GPS/NAV Key
Above the Course Deviation Indicator (CDI) is a little button that toggles between GPS and NAV. This is used to choose which source information is being displayed on the CDI. If NAV is selected, any navigational data displayed on the CDI is being received by the NAV1 frequency (called VLOC on the 430). This could be a VOR, for instance. If the GPS button is toggled, then the GPS course entered in the 430 is being displayed on the CDI. So if you have a VOR tuned in to the NAV1 frequency but have a course to an intersection in the 430, toggling the GPS and NAV button will toggle between the CDI needle showing either the VOR information or the intersection information. Note that the autopilot in most airplanes gets its course data from the CDI, so having the correct data displayed on the CDI is essential for the autopilot to hold your course in NAV mode.
Over on the Clayviation YouTube channel, we are heading to the Bahamas, exploring a different method of navigation in each episode. In the first episode, we explored pilotage and dead reckoning, and the second episode was VOR navigation. This week is the third leg, and the first in which we have turned on the GPS to navigate. See this quick reference guide in action here, and while you’re there, be sure to subscribe!
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