TIL: Garmin Pilot w/Garmin InReach For Satellite Messaging

Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by Sinistar, Feb 28, 2021.

  1. Sinistar

    Sinistar En-Route

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    Brad
    Was researching Garmin's latest offerings today for a friend wanting something for off-roading and hiking. I noticed their recommended device for aviation remains the InReach Explorer+. Makes sense, especially given it will run for 100hrs on a battery, has SOS, has a screen, IPx7 rated and has the iridium satellite messaging capability. @Katamarino uses this for all of his adventures (unless he has changed recently).

    What I didn't realize is that if you bluetooth pair the InReach explorer to the (iPad) tablet running Garmin Pilot, the InReach device will show up and a new tab appears that lets you see received messages and type in new messages all on the same device. Pretty nifty. I tried it today and it does work.

    There are however a few quirks:

    1. If you love running Garmin Pilot on the Android...not supported :( Doesn't even surprise me anymore. Yet (to start another ios v ANDROID war) our Samsung display is brighter and has actually been more stable than our iPad mini 4. So our mini 4 is still our backup.

    2. You can only pair to one device. I guess that is fair. Would be nice if it would allow up to (2) so the phone and 1 tablet. Most people prefer to pair the inReach to their phone via the Earthmate app. Its a decent interface and more importantly, is nice and cozy with your phone's contacts which leads to the next item...

    3. The Garmin Pilot app does a nice job of showing the InReach satellite messages and obviously has a nice large keyboard...but I had to manually enter the phone number or email address. Maybe if the tablet had a cellular plan it would be more seamless?

    4. It does not serve as a backup GPS source. Kinda dumb if you ask me. The InReach has great GPS. Its usually placed in a location to get GPS just like a portable ADSB IN. So why not allow it to be a backup if the panel mount and/or GDL options are not available. I would think it would be as accurate as the older Garmin GLO (which is still supported).

    5. The InReach has several preset messages include (3) which do not incur any additional satellite fees. The funny part is that the Garmin Pilot interface nor the phone interface (Earthmate) allow you to send these preset messages...they have to be sent from the GPS device itself. @WannFly will probably chuckle a bit..but I have a few preset messages and I often use them. Basically stuff like "On time, no problems blah, blah, blah". The recipients getting the SMS message receive the text and an exact position when sent. Nice when meeting people at the airport. If you are another InReach user you get the message directly in the air no matter what altitude, even when out of cellular service which is usually about 6000agl around here.
     
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  2. Warlock

    Warlock Cleared for Takeoff PoA Supporter

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    Using inreach at sea for the last several years in long range crossings in smaller sailboats...its slow and often can take a while to send and receive...limited in characters and often frustrating. It’s sort of clunky and primitive as a message system...but have been 600 miles from land in the North Atlantic and communicated just fine...but doing 8 knots and nothing but time on my hands
     
  3. Rick182

    Rick182 Pre-Flight

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    I keep an InReach mini in my plane. The monthly service charge is a no brainer compared to the potential utility of using it in a forced landing situation outside of cell phone coverage.
     
  4. Paul V

    Paul V Pre-Flight

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    I also keep an inReach mini on me. It’s a great little device that makes sense to use in the air as well as whenever you are out in the wilderness hiking / camping etc. There are a number of advantages for aviation use including being able to link it to your flight service profile to assist in SAR as well as for getting notifications of adverse conditions in flight. I always have it on and tracking in the aircraft and use it to send messages when out of cell coverage. I found the interface to Garmin Pilot to be a bit clunky and instead keep it paired to Earthmate on my phone which has the advantage of letting you access your phones contact list when sending messages.
     
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  5. Cogito

    Cogito Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I also have the InReach Mini and use the Earthmate app on the iPhone. You can send preprogrammed messages easily enough from the InReach, (or hit the SOS button if you're in deep...) but for everything else, Earthmate.