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Using Stratus to record and play back flights

The Stratus line of ADS-B receivers are well-known as weather receivers, providing subscription-free radar, METARs, and PIREPs in flight. Many pilots also use them for traffic alerts or to drive a backup attitude display in ForeFlight. While these are undoubtedly the most important features, there’s another option that many pilots don’t use as often: flight data recording.

By default, Stratus 2, 2S, and 3 are always recording during flight, logging position, speed, altitude, and AHRS-driven attitude – up to 20 hours at a time. This recording is automatic, so there’s no need to hit start and stop on every flight, a real convenience for busy flight instructors or professional pilots. Once the flights are logged, though, there are a variety of options for playing back a flight. Let’s review the options.

Why use flight data recording?

The term “flight data recorder” may evoke visions of airplane crashes and NTSB investigations, but with Stratus it’s much more about making your flying safer and more fun. A track log itself is just a data file; the value is unlocked when it’s applied towards specific goals. The best place to start is to consider what type of flying you do and what your flying goals are

While the potential uses for these detailed track logs are almost endless, in our experience there are four main applications:

  • Flight training: A motivated student or a forward-thinking instructor can get a lot of value out of reviewing slow flight, S-turns, or short field landings on an iPad – after a lesson. Instead of trying to explain complicated concepts in the less-than-ideal classroom of a general aviation cockpit, a data-driven debrief can focus on specifics. Apps like CloudAhoy (see below) make it easy to identify specific maneuvers, so you can grade that rectangular course or steep against the precise ACS standards. In particular, the AHRS data from Stratus adds valuable pitch and bank data.
  • Instrument proficiency: How well did you fly that ILS approach? Was your holding pattern entry precise? It’s often hard to answer such questions under the hood (or in the clouds). With a 3D track log, though, it’s simple to find out how good your instrument skills are. Our favorite use is to overlay a track log on an instrument approach chart to see exactly how stabilized your approach was.
  • Interactive logbook: A simple text entry is sufficient for your logbook to be legal, but many pilots enjoy saving more details about each flight. In addition to pictures and notes, a track log is a great way to relive a flight months or years later. It’s also helpful for watching your skills evolve over time: is your airspeed control better now than it was two years ago?
  • Fun flying and sharing: Track logs aren’t just for pilots. They can also be a great way to share your aerial adventures with friends, family, and other pilots. We like to use either Google Earth (see below) or CloudAhoy’s 3D cockpit view to help other pilots understand what it’s really like to fly a particular flight.

How to find Stratus track logs

To access Stratus track logs, turn on Stratus and connect it to your iPad via WiFi. Then open ForeFlight -> tap More -> Devices -> then Stratus. At the bottom of the Stratus Status menu, tap on the line that says Track Logs to view all your recent flights.

From here, you can choose a specific flight and tap the download symbol at the right to transfer the track log from Stratus memory to ForeFlight.

Sharing track logs

Once you’ve transferred a flight to ForeFlight, it will appear in the Track Logs page (also accessed from the More button). This will probably show a combination of track logs recorded by your iPad (GPS only) and by Stratus (which includes more data, like attitude). Tap on a track log to view details, then tap the arrow at the top right corner to share the track log. Standard options include Facebook, Twitter, and email – easy for sharing your flight with friends. The Logbook option will start a new logbook entry in ForeFlight, populated with all the relevant flight details.


The “Open KML In…” and “” options are where smart pilots can really unlock the value of track logs. These allow you to export your track log to another program and debrief your flight in great detail. Three in particular are worth exploring:, CloudAhoy, and Google Earth.

Viewing track logs on

The fastest and easiest option is to choose from the share menu shown above. This allows you to view any track log on ForeFlight’s website for a nice summary of the flight, complete with an interactive map. Tap the layers button at the top left to choose from a variety of basemap options, then scroll down to read trip statistics.



For the most detailed post-flight debrief, we like the CloudAhoy app. To share a flight from ForeFlight to CloudAhoy, tap the same arrow button at the top right of ForeFlight, then choose Open KML in… then select CloudAhoy from the list of available apps (make sure the app is installed on your device).

Once the track log is open in CloudAhoy, you can play back the entire flight, from GPS track to pitch and bank. There are powerful options for overlaying your flight on aviation charts, satellite images, and even a glass cockpit view. The app will also auto-detect flight segments for you, perfect for approaches or landings. In the screenshot below, you’ll see a graph on the left side for airspeed and altitude, then a 3D glass cockpit view next to a sectional chart, and finally an expanded speed/altitude graph below.

Stratus track log in CloudAhoyCloudAhoy does require a subscription, but you can download the app for free and try it for 30 days. This video gives a great overview of how CloudAhoy works:

Google Earth

The last option is Google Earth, a free app for iPad. From the same Share menu in ForeFlight choose Google Earth (again, make sure it’s installed on your device). There aren’t nearly as many options as CloudAhoy, but the app is free, easy to use, and you can review your flight path overlaid on a satellite image anywhere in the world. One nice option is to turn on the 3D mode on the left side of the screen and visualize your climbs and descents. Below is an example of an airplane entering the pattern and landing.

Stratus track log Google Earth

For more information about Stratus, visit

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All the gestures pilots need to know – iPad Pro operation without a home button

App view iOS 12

You can do almost everything on your iPad without touching a button – in fact, the new iPhone and iPad Pro models don’t even have a home button. Whether it’s closing an app, switching apps, opening the control center, or searching for something, iOS has multiple gestures that can save time or unlock additional features. Once you get proficient with them, they can really save time in the cockpit.

If you’ve been flying with an older iPad (like an iPad Air or Pro 9.7″), the new iPad Pro models may be confusing at first. They do require some new gestures, but once you get used to them, it’s quite intuitive. Let’s review all the options.

App tray
The app tray is accessed by swiping up slightly from the bottom of the screen

Swipe up (a little) for the app tray – From any app, just swipe up from the bottom of the screen about an inch to display the tray of favorite apps. The ones on the left are set by you; the ones on the right are auto-filled by the iPad based on popular or recently used apps. This is a fast way to change apps, and it’s also how you set up a split screen (see below).

Swipe up (a lot) to close the current app – This is the home button replacement. Swipe up to about the middle of the screen and you’ll close the current app and display the home screen. If you’re on one of the secondary home screens, doing this will return you to the first page of apps.

control center
The control center is accessed from the top right corner.

Swipe down from the top right corner for Control Center – The Control Center provides quick access to some of the most commonly-used settings, including Airplane Mode, WiFi, Bluetooth, and screen brightness. It’s also where you turn on the flashlight feature, so this is a frequently-used menu. Make sure you’re swiping down from the top right corner.

Swipe down from top middle for notifications and today – Did you get an alert and want to review it? Swipe down from the top of the screen (in the middle) to see a list of all your notifications, whether it’s a new email or an expected route from ForeFlight. After swiping down, you can also swipe from left to right to display the Today view. This is helpful because this view includes widgets, the little apps that run in self-contained boxes here.

Search iOS 11-12
Search for apps by swiping down from the top.

Swipe down from middle for search – Most people learn this one by accident, but it can be useful if your iPad has a lot of apps. Swipe down from the middle of the screen and you’ll see a gray screen with a search box at the top. You can use this to find an app that’s hidden in another folder, a contact, or even search the internet. Tap cancel at the top to return to your home screen.

Drag an app from the tray to get split screen – This is only available on newer iPad models running iOS 11 or later, but it’s a powerful feature. While an app is open, swipe from the bottom of the screen to display the tray with favorite and recent apps. Then, tap and drag an app icon to overlay it on the app that’s already open. This is a great way to use a checklist app or an E6B app without closing your favorite EFB app. Some apps go a step further and allow a full split-screen view, with two apps side by side. To view this, first drag an app icon out of the tray to display a second app, then drag it to the right side of the screen. You should see your original app resize and both apps will be active at the same time. You can even go from an 80/20 split to a 50/50 split by then dragging the new window from the left edge.

Multitasking gesture
Multitasking gestures use four or five fingers to switch between apps or close them.

Besides these shortcuts, there are a number of gestures that require four or five fingers – Apple calls them Multitasking Gestures. To activate this functionality, go to Settings -> General -> Multitasking & Dock. The first setting will enable the multiple app option mentioned above. The third one (Gestures) enables the following shortcuts:

Pinch to the home screen – Use this instead of pressing the home button to access the home screen from within any app. Place four or five fingers spread out on the screen, and pinch together.

Swipe up and hold to see open apps – Use this instead of pressing the home button twice (or the single finger swipe from the bottom) to access the multitasking view. Place four or five fingers spread out on the screen, and move your hand upward and pause for a second.

App view iOS 12
Swipe up and hold for a view of recently-used apps.

Swipe up from App Switcher to close multiple apps – Once you’ve opened the App Switcher (what Apple calls this screen you get after doing the above gesture), you can close apps that are running in the background by swiping up. This doesn’t delete the app, it simply closes it down completely. However, you can close multiple apps at the same time by swiping up with multiple fingers. This is handy if you want to close a lot of open apps, which is useful if you’re trying to troubleshoot.

Swipe left or right between apps – This allows quick movement between applications that are currently running. With an app running, place four or five fingers spread out on the screen. Now, move your hand to the left to switch to the last opened app. With the same motion, move your hand back to the right to switch back to the previous app.

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