Dear Voyager User,

Halloween is fast approaching and we're all busy buying scary costumes (I'm told the Henry Paulson and Ben Bernanke masks are hot sellers).  But, here at Seattle Avionics, we've also been busy preparing several new versions of Voyager including Voyager 4.1, new FreeFlight version 4.1 and, for folks with older machines, an updated version of the old Voyager 3.x series.

We're also getting ready to head off to the end-of-flying-season spectacular known as AOPA Expo.  If you'll be in San Jose next week, be sure to stop by Booth #917.  And, in the spirit of tradeshows, we're offering some pre-show specials right now.

Important:  The format of the FAA's TAF weather report is changing on November 5th.  The new versions of Voyager (4.1 and 3.7) work with both the new format and the old format.  On November 5th, older versions of Voyager will no longer be able to understand TAFs correctly so we very strongly suggest you upgrade.  See below.

Flight Log is a recurring newsletter for all Voyager users, with the latest Voyager news, tips, and tricks.  I'm very interested in your feedback, either to the newsletter or to Voyager itself.  Please send any comments or suggestions to me directly at

Back issues of Flight Log are available from our Web site at

Picture of the Month AOPA Reviews Voyager
New Voyager 4.1 New Voyager FreeFlight 4.1
The Keep 'Em Spinning Special Tips and Tricks
Upcoming Events  

Picture of the Month

If a picture is worth 1,000 words, a picture in 3D must be worth 1,000,000 words (get it?  1,000 ^ 3).  Welcome to the 21st century, brought to you by the new Voyager 4.1.  Click to play a short video of the new system in action.

AOPA Pilot Reviews Voyager 4.0

We admit it, we've been saying for some time that Voyager 4.0 is the coolest thing since retractable landing gear but now we have editorial backup.  In the October issue of AOPA Pilot (page 126), reviewer Ian Twombly had lots of great things to say about Voyager including:

"It combines a robust preflight planning package with GPS-enabled moving map display for everything a pilot needs to get from point A to B."

"... on the trip to and from EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh and were impressed with the software's utility, ease of use, and display."

"Voyager 4.0 is fun to use, completely customizable, and has too many features to mention here. It could easily take the place of your preflight planning software and handheld GPS."

New Voyager 4.1

Since Voyager 4.0 was released our developers have been eating Twinkies and drinking Jolt until midnight making changes and adding a really cool new feature 3D airspace.  No longer just for video games and $100,000 in-dash systems, our new 3D airspace means you see airspace shapes as you fly with GlassView.  Suddenly you see Class B "inverted wedding cakes" the way artists depict them in training manuals.  And, as you fly by TFRs, you see them visually off your wing, as if you could reach out and touch them (we don't recommend putting your hands out the window, however).

See it in action with a brief video:

Voyager 4.1 also adds support for the new 24/30 hour TAF format that goes live on November 5th and fixes a number of bugs, most notably regarding screen rotation, sleep and hibernate as well as printing and scanned chart resolution.  Read all the details at:

To download it, all you need is a current ChartData subscription.  If you have one, simply start Voyager and it should tell you that the new version is available (or try Tools/Update Application).  If your ChartData has expired, this would be an ideal time to renew.

While not new, I'd like to recommend that you take a few minutes to watch an overview video that shows the basics of using Voyager 4, if you haven't already watched it.  While the video is based on Voyager 4.0 not Voyager 4.1, other than not seeing the new 3D airspace in GlassView, everything else will look essentially the same and pilots who have watched it say that it really helped them get up to speed on Voyager 4.

Note:  If you're using Voyager 3.6 because your hardware can't run Voyager 4.1, we do also have a revised version of Voyager 3.x Voyager 3.7.  The only differences from Voyager 3.6 are support for the new FAA TAF format and a fix to downloading FBO information from AOPA.  To download this version, see the instructions below for downloading Voyager FreeFlight 3.7 then use the Tools/Modules dialog box to activate the modules you own.

New FreeFlight version 4.1 and version 3.7

Voyager FreeFlight has been upgraded to the new Voyager 4.1 charting engine.  This means lightning-fast screen zooms and pans, 3D images, simplified user interface and more.  In addition, we've also added two key features to FreeFlight that were previously reserved for the paid-for versions: WebSynch and terrain on the main chart.  "Terrain on the main chart" means you have a choice of seeing charts that are digital versions similar to standard FAA sectionals with colored terrain or the white background familiar to IFR charts.  WebSynch is an incredibly powerful, unique and popular feature that makes it simple to run Voyager on multiple computers.  With one click, WebSynch synchronizes flight plans and your user settings between machines.  In other words, you can create a flight plan on a work desktop and use WebSynch to copy the flight plan to your home desktop or laptop.

We've also prepared a comprehensive new video that shows how to use FreeFlight 4.1.  Not only is it a great video, it was done by someone besides me (Scott Sonnendecker in Sales) so you get to hear a good narrator!

In addition, because of the FAA's TAF format change, we've also updated FreeFlight 3.69 to FreeFlight 3.7.  The only differences from 3.6 are support for the new FAA TAF format and a fix to downloading FBO information from AOPA.  If you have at least 1 GB of RAM and Windows XP or 2 GB of RAM and Windows Vista, we strongly suggest using FreeFlight 4.1.  If you have an older machine (pre-2004) or just 512 MB of RAM, FreeFlight 3.7 is right for you.

To download FreeFlight 4.1 (1 GB of RAM required for XP, 2 GB for Vista), click any of the following links:

Note:  FreeFlight 4.1 and FreeFlight 3.6/3.7 can co-exist on the same machine.  When you install FreeFlight 4.1, a new Voyager 4 icon will appear on your Windows Desktop.  The old Voyager icon will run Voyager 3.x.  They will also be listed separately in the Windows Add/Remove Programs list.

To download FreeFlight 3.7 (512 MB of RAM required), click any of the following links:

Keep 'Em Spinning Special

You may have noticed that the economy has seen better days and the value of your portfolio isn't moving skyward.  In keeping, we'd like to suggest paying a little less for software this season so you can keep the propeller spinning.  These are the same specials we plan to offer at AOPA Expo next week so they expire at the end of the show (November 8, 2008).  To buy, click any link below or give us a call at 425.806.0249 and mention Coupon Code Economy.

Save $50.  Regular price is $199.
VFR Pre-Flight Special Voyager 4.1 with SmartPlan Premier and 6 months of VFR ChartData
Save $149.  Regular price is $349.
IFR Pre-Flight Special Voyager 4.1 with SmartPlan Premier, SmartPlates and 6 months of IFR ChartData
Save $149.  Regular price is $499.
EFB (moving map) Special Voyager 4.1 with SmartPlan Premier, SmartPlates, GlassView and 6 months of EFB ChartData

Tips and Tricks

As always, please send your questions and favorite tips to

A reminder that past Tips and Tricks are available from our Web site at

Watch the Video.  If you haven't already watched our Voyager 4 Overview video, we strongly suggest you have a look.  While it won't win an Emmy, it will give you a great start on using Voyager.  Alternately, if you're trying new FreeFlight 4.1, we have an all-new FreeFlight-specific training video.

Voyager 4 (full product) Overview

Voyager 4 FreeFlight Overview

Downloading All Plates.  If you have an IFR level of ChartData, you can mass-download all 14,500+ approach plates at once.  Normally, every 28 days, Voyager downloads all the plates that the FAA changed during the cycle.  But that doesn't download plates that you've never downloaded.  Thus, if you want all plates always updated, simply download all the plates once then download the incremental changes every cycle.  That's Tools/Update Procedures/Download All Procedures.
Preload Scanned Charts.  When you display a scanned Sectional or IFR chart, Voyager works like Google Earth in that it downloads 'bits' or 'tiles' of the appropriate chart on the fly.  This works great while connected to the Internet but most of us don't have the Web while we fly.  Thus, Voyager includes a feature to not only download full scanned charts but also automatically ensure that they stay current.  From the Chart button, select Show Chart Viewer then click the button.  Check the charts you want Voyager to constantly monitor and click OK.
Rubber-Band Man.  By default, clicking and dragging on a chart moves the chart, like Google Earth.  However, if you switch from the hand cursor to the pointer cursor (shown to the left) on the chart toolbar, you can drag-and-drop changes to the flight plan itself.  That is, after switching to the pointer, move the mouse anywhere over the flight plan line and it turns into a 4-way arrow.  Click and drag the line to insert a new waypoint into the plan.  Or click and drag from an existing point on the flight plan (like a landing airport or navaid) and drop it over a different point and the plan also gets updated.  Of course, when you change the plan like this, Voyager also automatically requests a new DUAT briefing so you're always current.
Try Before You Buy.  Voyager is a complete flight system with modules for pre-flight planning, IFR procedure viewing and in-flight use.  Each module is sold separately so you can buy just what you need or just begin with FreeFlight.  But if your needs change (like you're working on your IFR ticket or just bought a tablet PC), you can 'test-drive' any module for five days.  Simply select Modules from the Tools menu and check any modules you're like to try.
Profile to 1000 fpm.  You may find that Voyager's autorouter sometimes has trouble when taking off or landing at mountainous airports.  This is typically due to the climb performance of the aircraft being set low.  If you have this problem, try increasing the climb and descent rates of your aircraft to 1000 fpm.  Even if this is too high for your plane, keep in mind that a human pilot can circle over the airport a few times to gain altitude while Voyager's autorouter always has to think in straight lines so the fiction can sometimes make things more realistic.  From the Lists menu, select Aircraft then double-click on your plane and use the Performance tab.
Best Time vs. Best Economy.  In SmartPlan Premier's autorouter, you can select whether you want to plan for the shortest flight time or the best fuel efficiency.  This works by using performance data for the aircraft at various altitudes and, generally speaking, will fly you higher when the Best Economy setting is used.  This also means that both settings will produce the same result unless you've programmed Voyager with different fuel burns and performance data at different altitudes (getting there faster will a constant fuel burn also means best fuel economy).  Most built-in aircraft profiles do not include this level of detail.  Thus, for the Best Time vs. Best Economy switch to work as expected (and to get more accurate performance estimates): Select Aircraft from the Lists menu, double-click on your plane, select the Performance tab then select the Advanced tab.  Click the Help button there for details on how to enter the data.
Date the Plate.  The FAA produces IFR approach plates and distributes them for free.  That's great but it isn't so great that they also print a date on the side of the plate that implies that each plate is only valid for 28 days.  In fact, that isn't the case; the date is simply the cycle date when the plate was printed.  Since they don't know when a plate will be materially changed, they can't print a hard expiration date on the side.  However, the FAA does also publish to commercial clients like us a database that says which plates have materially changed each cycle and which haven't.  We use that information to determine which plates must be downloaded each cycle.  Thus, for most plates, the month after it was downloaded, it will appear to be out of date because of the print date on the side when, in fact, it's almost certain to still be current.  The good news is that, in case of a ramp check, the FAA official should be looking at the Amendment code (Amdt) at the lower left corner of the plate rather than the date.  But, if you really want to be sure that you don't get a befuddled FAA official, you can always download a full set of plates, with the current print date on the side, by following the Download All Plates tip above.
50 Ways To Zoom Your Chart.  Well, maybe not 50 but there are many ways to zoom the chart in and out of Voyager.  You can click and hold down the magnify + and - buttons or select a specific range from the Range drop-down, for example.  But did you also know that you can press and hold the Ctrl and + and - keys on your keyboard to zoom?  Or that you can use the mouse-wheel to zoom in and out?  Or even right-click the Chart and select Center and Zoom To?

Also, when Voyager jumps the chart from one location to another or changes the range from one value to another, it can either do so in small increments (smoothly) or in one large jump.  If you have a faster machine and newer video card, the smooth jump is fun to watch and doesn't take much additional time.  However, if you have an older machine or video card, you might prefer one quick jump without the intermediate steps.  Set your preference with Tools/Options/Preferences and the Use smooth zooming switch.

Update Your Video Driver.  Voyager 4, like Google Earth and Microsoft Flight Simulator, is very much dependent on your computer's video card and, perhaps even more so, on the video card driver.  Even if the video card or computer is new (in fact, especially when either is new), there is often an updated video driver that enhances performance and fixes problems.  Microsoft DirectX and Voyager 4 depend on the video card driver so any weakness in the driver may be very obvious by stray lines or generally garbled images.  Thus, it's a very, very good idea to ensure that you have the latest video driver for your card.  Oddly, the automated Microsoft Update mechanism does not usually find updated drivers so you'll need to check your video card manufacture's Web site.  Click below for more information such as how to determine which video card your machine has and how to update the driver; it's not as hard as it sounds.

Upcoming Events

Seattle Avionics Software will be showing Voyager at the following upcoming events.  Stop by to say hello, see the latest Voyager features, and ask the experts any questions you have about Voyager.

November 6 - 8, 2008.  AOPA Expo.  San Jose, CA.  Booth #917.

Until next time, happy flying.

 - Steve Podradchik, CEO (and Editor)

Seattle Avionics Software, Inc.
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