“Warning! GPS Navigation Lost!” proclaimed my GPS receiver.
Jean and I were bouncing through clouds on instruments at 12,000 feet, over trackless mountains along the remote Arizona-New Mexico border.
Seconds after that initial warning, my primary flight display announced, “GPS reversion mode: for Emergency Use Only!” (but displayed no position.) My multifunction display restarted itself with a “Maintenance Required!” alert. Next came an “ADS-B (out) inoperative!” warning, meaning our transponder had stopped transmitting our GPS coordinates to air traffic control (ATC).
I was flying Jean from Flagstaff to El Paso for tennis sectionals. Normally we make the 2½-hour journey straight-line VFR. Today, however, layered clouds shrouded the mountainous central portion of the route, so I’d filed under instrument flight rules (IFR). This route spans a huge swath of military airspace that when active cannot be crossed IFR, so I’d filed a circuitous route over Socorro, New Mexico.
My first hint of trouble was when our controller asked, “Are you ADS-B equipped?”
That seemed odd, as he had long been tracking us. He then cleared me to an intersection to bypass nearby White Sands Missile Range restricted airspace, but the GPS died as I entered the fix into my navigator. After I reported the failure, the controller assigned radar vectors around the restricted areas.
Now other pilots began reporting lost GPS, and I noted that the position symbol on my tablet computer had stopped moving…
**Continue reading Greg’s entire column, “THE DAY GPS WENT OUT” **. (Mobile-device link.)
Photo: Primary Flight Display in GPS-failure Emergency Reversion Mode.
(This column first appeared in AOPA Flight Training magazine.)
If you enjoyed this story, you’ll love Greg’s book, Flying Carpet: The Soul of an Airplane. Autographed copies available!