Worth buying an ADS-B receiver for iPad

Hi, Everyone.

Still lurking around the forums here as I work to finish my PPL and get ready to start ATP (hopefully) in July. Got a mock checkride coming up with an unfamiliar instructor on Friday, and if that goes well I could be looking to do the real exam next week!

I had a bit of a scary experience on a solo cross-country recently when a plane that wasn’t talking on the CTAF almost wiped me out in the pattern at a non-towered airport. While I believe I did everything properly as far as my own communication and pattern-entry, I’ve reflected on it a lot with various people and I’ve definitely learned some important lessons from the experience that I believe will make me a better pilot.

One of the lessons I learned that day is that traffic awareness technology can be a literal lifesaver. I had previously been hesitant to spend the money on a Sentry or similar product, but $300 suddenly doesn’t seem like that much now that my life has flashed before my eyes.

All that being said, (if all goes according to plan) I’m not anticipating doing THAT much more flying on my own before joining ATP and getting to use planes with built-in traffic info. My question is whether it is still worth having an ADS-B receiver for my iPad even once I’m using the G500 or whatever other avionics ATP’s planes might have? Anybody here use an iPad + ADS-B in addition to the built-in avionics? Is it worth it? Any recommendations for which particular receiver I should buy?

Thank you all, as always, for sharing your insights. I am very appreciative of the wisdom that is shared on this forum and it’s helped me immensely as I’ve navigated this monumental transition in my life.


Sorry to hear you had a scary situation there but glad that you’re safe. If you want to invest in that technology for flying you do outside of ATP, by all means. However, you won’t need that once you start training in ATP’s archers. They have great built in traffic awareness on the G500. You’ll see traffic there first not down on your leg on your iPad.


Thank you for the response, Hannah. This is pretty much what I assumed, but I didn’t know if there might be advantages to having the ADS-B on my iPad that I wasn’t aware of.

At this point I’ll probably just keep relying 100% on scanning and avoiding, and hopefully I’ll be in one of those tricked out Archers in no time!

Thanks again.



You say you “definitely learned some important lessons” but the only one you mention is buying an ADS-B. If this were your airline interview and you were asked “tell us about a time you were scared on a flight” and you told that story with that conclusion you just lost the job.

So is there anything else you learned you can share from the experience?


Absolutely, Adam. Thank you for the invitation to reflect further. I’ve thought about it a lot, and all of the following are things I now understand since the incident that I did not fully understand before:

Starting broad, I was reminded that flying is very serious business, and you can never let your guard down when you’re flying. You think you know this until something scary happens, and then it really sets in. I choked up when I saw my wife that afternoon, realizing just how easily I could’ve never seen her again. Any time you go up there you are putting yourself in a possible life-or-death situation, and you must treat your responsibility as a pilot as if those dangers are a real possibility. You need to anticipate problems before they become catastrophes; you can’t just sit back and hope that as long as you follow procedures nothing bad will happen.

More specifically, I learned to respect the dangers presented by uncontrolled airports. You have multiple airplanes converging at the same altitude and pattern locations, with no outside guidance to help monitor their position relative to one another. Many of these airports are used for training purposes, and therefore may involve student pilots (like myself), who have not yet learned all of the skills required for safe operations at such fields. Many of these airfields are also generally less busy, and pilots may be less inclined to worry about the dangers presented by high traffic volume. It’s possible I was the only non-local airplane to fly into that field all week, and perhaps the other airplane was just not used to seeing visitors in the pattern.

I learned you can never be too vigilant with your scanning, and that the responsibility to “see-and-avoid” is incredibly important for the VFR pilot. I should have assumed that other planes might be entering the pattern, considered the different pattern entries that different airplanes might be using for the runway that was favored by the winds, and checked over and over for airplanes that might be converging on those entry points. I should also remember that airplanes at a similar altitude can be difficult to spot (and I should get some non-polarized sunglasses to ensure that I see the reflections of other airplanes clearly).

I learned the importance of clear communication, especially on the CTAF frequency. Had the other aircraft been making calls, I would like to think I would’ve been able to avoid a near-miss. If I heard them coming but didn’t see them, I would’ve departed the pattern and done some 360s away from the airport until I could verify their location and enter the pattern safely based on their position. On the leg before the incident leg, I actually had a situation where myself and another airplane made 10 mile out calls at about the same time, and we basically had a conversation about who was where and what we were going to do to avoid each other. It was a good reminder that the most important thing on the radio is clarity of communication, and even though we deviated from the standard 10 miles out, over the field, entering the downwind, turning base, on final, sequence of calls, it was appropriate to do so in the interest of safety. He saw me before I saw him, communicated such, and I was able to do a teardrop to sequence in behind him for a safe landing.

I learned that no matter what happens you must always remember your first responsibility is the safe operation of your aircraft. I was shaken after the other airplane buzzed me (he was REALLY close), and I had to take a deep breath and remind myself that I still had flying to do. I was able to see in that moment how easily one bad situation can lead to another, as I found myself having to really consciously refocus to avoid compounding the situation with further mistakes.

I learned that blame and fault are not particularly relevant to the lessons that can be taken away from an experience like this. When I first called my instructor after I was back on the ground I was pretty fired up from the adrenaline, and my initial explanation to him was focused on “I did everything just like you taught me! This guy came out of nowhere! It wasn’t my fault!” Once I calmed down I realized it doesn’t matter whose fault it was. Had we collided, I wouldn’t be any less dead for not being the one responsible. There were things within my control that I could’ve done differently, and it is my responsibility to identify what those things were and commit to doing them better next time. Anger, defensiveness, etc., are counterproductive to learning and growth.

Finally, I learned that $300 really isn’t that much for an ADS-B receiver.

Honestly there are more things I could say about this, but I think that covers the big ones. I have no doubt that the experience helped me grow into a safer pilot, and I have no doubt that I will have many more such experiences to help me continue that growth. I am a believer in the “a good pilot is always learning” idea, and I will cherish the opportunity to share that outlook with an airline interview panel, should I be so fortunate as to have that opportunity some day.


Excellent assessment and debrief Noah. Really. One of the “key” things you stated was “you can never be too vigilant”. A pilot who’s vigilant is must less likely to be caught off guard, “behind” their airplane or situationally unaware.

Now you’ve got a story to tell to the panel when your time comes, and it will!

Btw, you handled it better than I did. When the same thing happened to me a million years ago, before you were born, I landed and punched the guy in the face which cost me more than $300 :wink:


Thank you, Adam. I really do appreciate you and all of the other mentors for the time and wisdom that you devote to these forums. Your straightforwardness in your responses to myself and others who post here has been an important part of my coming to terms with what it really means to pursue this career. You’ve really helped me appreciate what goes into doing what you do, and I’m learning not to take anything for granted on this journey.


1 Like

Just saw the footnote of your post. I will admit the temptation was there to do something similar. I had that shaking anger/adrenaline going pretty strong. When I taxied back to the runway I passed the guy who almost collided with me and we just made awkward eye contact from our respective cockpits. He looked pretty shaken up too. He also looked to be about 80 years old, so that cooled me off a bit.

Glad that little incident didn’t derail your career. It sounds like something you might see on this forum: “So I had a little incident where I kinda punched another pilot. Do I still have a shot at a major?”


Fortunately as I said this happened long ago in a galaxy far away and was “settled privately”. Unfortunately the pilot in question actually died in a crash short after.

While it never did impact my career (which was not a thought at the time) it definitely could have and it certainly wasn’t my finest moment. Old guy or not you took the high road which is commendable.

Again nice job.


1 Like

Don’t forget the weather feature and synthetic vision capability (Foreflight pro).

I don’t believe ATP is subscribed to either (correct me if wrong). It is always important to know the limitations of these features… but they do add even more SA when flying with ATP & especially others.

I have a Sentry and loved it. Was great for XC and ferry flying.

Chris F

Thanks for the info, Chris. I’m thinking I still might get one as a supplement to the equipment in the Archer, and for use if I ever find myself flying a non-ATP aircraft.

Do you have any input on whether it’s worth getting the full Sentry vs. the Sentry MINI for $200 less?


I never used the Mini. Used Scout and Stratus.

I personally went for the Sentry because I like the added features in case of emergency’s and increased SA.

  • Internal battery, stand alone system if electrical failure or no power source (1 less cable hanging too).
  • AHARS, stand alone system if in vfr only airplane or vacuum pump or electrical failure. Can navigate with LPV / ILS precision (emergency only, not FAA certified).
  • CO monitor and alarm are nice too.

Besides WX and Traffic I really liked these features and used them more than a few times.

Chris F

Thank you again, Chris. I’ve seen that comparison matrix before but I was never sure how useful each of those extra features is. The internal battery seems like a big one, and extra safety features certainly can’t hurt. It was a desire for additional safety that put me in the market in the first place!

One more question, if you don’t mind: will connecting my iPad to the Sentry allow me to get all the real-time weather info in ForeFlight like METARs and winds aloft? It’s always bugged me that with the cellular iPad (not connected to a data plan) I can get moving map and weather radar, but can’t fetch the simple weather data. Is that what’s included in the “subscription-free weather,” or is that something else?


That is included.
Edit* I believe, I’d have to actually check if it is when I get home to test it. Lol, been awhile.

Always remember that WX Radar is usually 10-20min old.
Great Air Safety Institute YouTube Video on it.

Chris F

If you think of it that would be great. If not no worries I will probably get one soon regardless.

Thank you for the link to the video. I’ve actually been watching a lot of those Air Safety Institute videos lately and that one really stuck with me. Did not know about the lag in wx radar updates.