You will need to decide on a physical size of iPad (iPad vs iPad Mini) that you want. This is purely a personal preference and both sizes are great devices. For maximum screen real-estate, the full size iPad is a great choice. If cockpit space is limited, the iPad Mini offers excellent performance in a smaller form factor.
We strongly recommend newer iPad’s, such as the iPad Air, over older iPads as they have more powerful processors and graphics chips that deliver significantly better performance.
Next, you will need to choose between an iPad Wi-Fi + Cellular combo or an iPad with Wi-Fi only. The Wi-Fi + Cellular iPad contains the GPS chip that can be used to activate moving map capabilities in ForeFlight Mobile. The Wi-Fi model can be paired with an external GPS like the Bad Elf Pro to provide location fixes in flight. Other options include the Stratus 1 and Stratus 2 which provide GPS positioning as well as in-flight weather and traffic service via the ADS-B network. Also, if you are flying an aircraft with significant structure, such as a corporate jet, you may need an external GPS whether you have one built into the iPad or not.
Last, you will need to choose how much storage capacity you want: 16 GB, 32 GB, 64, or 128GB. We strongly recommend 32GB or more. ForeFlight Mobile can require over 16GB for all of the U.S. airport diagram, A/FD sheets, instrument procedures, documents, VFR sectionals, and IFR enroute charts. Canadian data can total 3GB. Those size estimates account for having 2 “cycles” of data loaded at the same time (the current and next cycle).
- An AT&T or Verizon data plan is not required to use the iPad WiFi+Cellular model or its GPS capabilities. However, we’ve found a data plan to be very handy for getting weather reports on the go and have had the best luck with Verizon.
- The WiFi-only models do not include a GPS chip but can be used with external GPSs (see accessories list)
Additional resource: ForeFlight Buying Guide