So a friend introduced me to LK8000 a little while ago. It it open-source (read *free*) software that will run on a large variety of Personal Nav Aids (PNA's) AKA, the little GPS thingies stuck to everybody's dashboards. These can be purchased used for about $45 on ebay or amazon. Then loading the software is free and takes 10 minutes. Learning to use it effectively takes longer, but that should be taken bit-by-bit anyway.
LK8000 will display topography, terrain, some roads, waypoints, LZ/s, airspace, routes and competition routes, what is within your glide range, your track (in colors so you know where you were rising or sinking), and probably some stuff I'm forgetting about. It'll also show in side-view (and above view at the same time) airspace and topography, along with your glide angle, so you can know if you're clearing the airspace and the terrain. It'll audibly warn you (in a very customizable way) when you'er approaching controlled airspace.
After your flight, in the LZ with beer in hand, you can replay your flight on this same device (at whatever speed multiplier you choose) and show your buddies how high you got and how ripping that thermal was. I haven't verified this, but I'm pretty certain you can show where you were relative to the terrain and airspace using the horizontal / overhead views.
I'm posting because I don't want pilots to accidentally break airspace, or accidentally think they have something on glide when they don't. The technology now costs less than a tank of gas.
Check it out:http://www.lk8000.it/http://www.lk8000.it/hardware.htmlhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OfP2sM0cWt8
And you can find much more on it than what I linked here.
The discussion board for developers and users is here: http://www.postfrontal.com/forum/default.asp?CAT_ID=11
of course, please observe good forum etiquette if you think you need to post here.
One of the recommended pieces of hardware is the MIO M400, and that is what I have. It is super easy to mount this to a flytec bracket arm for HG pilots. However, it is not necessary to buy hardware to test out this flight instrument. LK8000 can run in simulator mode on your windows computer. I think you can have it replay a flight from an igc file from a previous flight (I'm not certain of this) so you can see how that flight would have looked on this instrument.
Anyway, have fun, but please keep your attention "outside the cockpit"
Wing on top, Pilot on bottom, Pointy end forward.
WW U2 160