Thanks to my friends at PilotMall.com, I was able to get my hands on the popular iPro Aviator/M Kneeboard for the iPad Mini and gave it one heck of a stress test which included over 30 hours of flight time, home flight simulator use and even driving around with the thing strapped to my leg. How did it hold up?
The iPro Aviator is one solid kneeboard. It’s built out of heavy-duty aluminum – the same sort of stuff the MacBook Pro is made out of. It’s tough and I get the impression that the case could take some serious abuse without breaking. And if it did break, the manufacturer guarantees it for life — a nice insurance policy, but seriously, this thing isn’t going to break.
Your iPad Mini slides into a padded cradle under the clipboard. It’s well designed with cutouts to allow access to all your buttons and ports, and my iPad felt very safe, especially in the crowded and chaotic environment of a cockpit.
But taking the iPad out of the iPro is tricky. There’s no padding on the metal lip above the iPad and you’ve only got about 1/4″ to play with, so you need to be careful not to scratch the top of your screen.
I am impressed with the clipboard, which closes over top of the iPad as a writing surface. The clipboard is shorter than the iPad to avoid interfering with flight controls when it is swung open. This is a great idea, but it’s not going to work in all cases.
In a Cessna 172, the shortened clipboard worked as advertised, and I think you’ll find that the case with yoke controlled airplanes. I was curious about how much control clearance I would have, so I strapped the kneeboard to my right leg, opened the clipboard and performed my flight-control check on a CRJ. An unrealistic test perhaps (we don’t fly with kneeboards), but it did interfere with the control pedestal – stopping my elevator at about 80% extension. This raises some questions about the iPro Aviator’s value in other pedestal or stick equipped airplanes, though at least one user has reported no issues on a Diamond.
I use my iPad for more than just flying, and the iPro Aviator makes little sense outside of the cockpit. That means you’ll probably want another case for day-to-day use and you’ve got to slide iPad in and out of the iPro Aviator every time you fly. For the price, you’re just not going to get a lot of use out of the iPro Aviator/M unless you fly a lot.
In summary, the iPro Aviator/M is a sturdy kneeboard that’s going to protect and hold your iPad Mini in the cockpit. Ingenuity went into this product: it has some really cool features and innovations. But it won’t necessarily work well in every airplane and it has little utility outside of the cockpit.
The iPro Aviator/M retails at $79.99. You can get the iPro Aviator/M and read user reviews at PilotMall.com.
Special thanks to Neil Glazer at PilotMall.com for providing a test unit for this review.