Bits & Bytes
A `MOVING MAP' FOR WEEKEND PILOTS
For years, pilots of small planes dreamed of the day when they could see their position on a moving map instead of trying to visualize where they are based on paper maps. A few software companies developed computer programs that could realize just such a display. But those setups required separate laptop computers, an unwieldy option in the cramped cockpit of a private plane.
Now, Garmin Industries Inc. in Lenexa, Kan., has come out with a handheld unit that works with the Defense Dept.'s space-based Global Positioning System--a string of satellites that gives the military worldwide navigational aid. The paperback-size unit--called the GPS 95--contains the location information of virtually every U.S. airport and radio-beacon transmitter used by pilots. A pilot merely types in the destination airport and the device shows the plane's position relative to it and to nearby radio beacons by using the signals from the satellites. The $1,795 GPS unit also can show the plane's ground speed, heading, and altitude--a useful backup to an airplane's built-in instruments.EDITED BY PAUL M. ENG