Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need a computer as pricey as a good used car to tell you how to fly your ship. It’s true that even a top racing pilot with only basic instrumentation might feel disadvantaged against comparable aces running panels full of gizmos – unless their batteries fail. But YOU will approach their level sooner by investing your surplus budget in more flight time (and perhaps some advanced instruction?) rather than distracting, non-essential gear that you don’t need and may scarcely understand. A seat-of-the-pants, line-of-sight method of gliding judgment is far more important than any avionix and can be best developed by looking outside the cockpit, using all your senses, and THINKING.
Use imagination also, to combine the wealth of cognitive and sensory resources flowing all around you and interpret what they say. Think like a bird. Think like an air molecule. Think like a soaring pilot who doesn’t need to be told by a machine what to do. Think for yourself! It can be very satisfying.
I was up once with a colleague who happens to be a world record holder, and we stumbled into surprise wave. His immediate reaction was: “Damn, we don’t have a GPS to mark where this lift is.”
“If you look down,” I answered, “you can see we’re about a mile from the intersection of two major highways.” Call me old fashioned, but it seems that if you need a GPS to tell you where you are, you are lost!
Sometime soon, please, shut those electric doodads off and go fly for a while. Just you and the sky. Using natural information puts you more directly ‘in touch’ with the non-virtual air through which you’re floating. It’s fun, it’s challenging, and it will reward you with genuine confidence in your own judgment, your own abilities, YOURSELF.