I don’t own an airplane — I rent them by the hour from FBOs. And while G1000 equipped airplanes are available, the cost associated with those planes is much higher than a normal steam-gauge Cessna 172. There’s also no way to know if the charts have been updated recently, and if you want to enter a detailed custom flight plan you’ll need to do it while on the ground burning gas prior to takeoff. For me, having a tablet to fulfill all of my navigational needs is ideal since I can configure it exactly how I like and program everything for my flight before I even leave home. But there’s a problem: how do you mount it on an airplane, especially one where you can’t alter anything and the configuration can vary wildly between FBOs? MyGoFlight has a solution: the Universal Flex Suction Kit.
The MyGoFlight system is a pretty nifty solution for a fairly common problem. There are a TON of device specific mounts on the market, but not many for the Android tablets. There are “universal” cradles available, but the vast majority are either extremely ugly or very clunky to use. MyGoFlight came up with a design for their universal cradle that is not only useful, but slick and stylish.
Getting your tablet squared away takes but a moment — unlock the two sliding claws using the twist knobs on the back, insert your tabled, slide the claws down, and then twist to tighten the knobs back up. For the most part the claws stay out of the way, but if you find them too obtrusive there’s a second set of less claw-y claws in the package. The cradle surface also features a number of rubber pads everywhere the tablet would contact the cradle, providing some padding and abrasion resistance to keep your tablet looking factory fresh even after hundreds of hours of use.
On the Nexus 9, the default claws are a bit too large for the bevel — they stick out into the screen area a little bit, but not enough to impact the operation of the device using Garmin Pilot. The only real gotcha with the cradle that I ran into is the fact that since the power and volume buttons are located on the top of the side for the tablet, if you stick the claw over the buttons they may be pushed in flight. Attach the claws on the opposite side as the buttons (as shown above) and you are good to roll.
The back of the mount is where most of the magic happens. Instead of having a ball and socket joint like other cradles, there’s a circular docking port thing on the back that easily hooks into any of MyGoFlight’s mounting options and secures the tablet in position. The interface is proprietary, but standardized among MyGoFlight’s line of mounting options so you can use one cradle with any of their other devices. It isn’t stuck in one orientation though, as the circular mount lets you spin it 360 degrees even while attached to the mount. So if you’re flying along and suddenly need a portrait view instead of landscape, you can make it happen.
The suction cup mount comes in two flavors: one arm or two arm. The two arm variety gives much more freedom of movement, and is capable of scrunching down to be almost flat to the glass if needed. The one arm variety is cheaper, but not really as useful. There’s also another option for a two suction cup mount, but for me I took a gamble on the single cup as its a little cheaper.
Adjusting the mount is as easy as pie. There’s a single twist control for the arms located on the middle joint (bottom of the above picture) that tightens both the central joint as well as the ball and socket joints on each end. This allows you to adjust the pad in flight if needed, and quickly lock it back in place when done with a single control. Extremely useful and very nifty, but not really mentioned on their website as a feature.
On the ground everything seemed to work very well, but the real test is how it worked in the air. I had planned to take a short flight around northern San Antonio, heading to Fredericksburg (T82) for some lunch and then returning to Boerne Stage (5C1). I decided to bring the tablet and mount along, and see how well everything worked.
Before the flight, I had wondered whether it would be worth it to get the version of this mount with two suction cups instead of one. After the flight, I was convinced that one is enough.
Even through some rather bumpy turbulence, the mount held solid. The proprietary circular attachment thinger didn’t let go of the tablet, the arms didn’t come loose even a fraction of an inch, and the suction cup stayed exactly where I put it. Which actually became a problem when I started bouncing around the cockpit and the tablet didn’t follow, making pushing buttons a little tricky.
Positioning the tablet is extremely easy as well. The single control knob for the two arms is easy to turn and easy to tighten, and once you have that a little loose you can re-position the tablet to whatever viewing angle or distance you need. Quick, simple, and effective — much better than needing to tighten each component individually.
Something else I have been playing with is which side of the airplane to mount the mount. It works equally well on either side of the cockpit, but I’ve found that sticking it on the left window and keeping it within reach of my usual instrument scan makes it very easy to read and use in-flight. Stuck to the other side of the plane it can be hard to read, and difficult to reach. But right there it doesn’t take up a ton of space, there’s still some window left to peek out, and nothing critical is being covered up — except the clock. But a position change can fix that if you’re IFR and no longer care about looking out the window and care a whole lot more about the clock.
The whole kit costs about $178 from the MyGoFlight website, and after using it once I can see that it is worth every penny. The attractive design coupled with the excellent functionality make it the ideal system for mounting things in an airplane. And if windows aren’t your thing, they also offer yoke mounts as well as glare shield clamp mounts that use the same attachment system and cradle. It’s a system that seems extremely well thought out, and well engineered.
MyGoFlight Universal Flex Suction Kit
Ratings (Out of Five Stars):
Ease of Use: * * * * *
Intuitive to configure, easy to reposition, and quickly adjustable in flight as needed.
Build Quality: * * * * *
Smooth edges, finely coated metal on the cradle, and expertly placed rubber patches.
Overall: * * * * *
Those who know me from my work at TTAG know that I don’t give out five star ratings on a whim — only for things I really think are the best. This really is the best on the market for tablets, and will stay with you even as tablets come and go.