Video Tip: How to use a mechanical E6B flight computer

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Most students today prefer to use an electronic E6B flight computer when planning a flight or preparing for the FAA knowledge test.  The electronic E6B is actually the evolution of a mechanical E6B flight computer, often referred to as a whiz wheel. While the mechanical E6B may take a little longer to learn compared to its electronic counterpart, the learning process is a fun challenge. 

The E6B got its start in the late 1930s and 40s as a circular slide rule developed for military aviators. The name “E6B” actually comes from its original part number for the US Army Air Corps around that time. It went through many iterations during World War Two and eventually evolved into the version most pilots recognize today. Today’s mechanical E6Bs still use the same core circular slide rule logic as those from World War Two, but also include some additional capabilities. This week’s tip shows you the basic operation of the front side circular slide ruler and how to compute basic aviation conversions.

The video clip is from Sporty’s 2024 Learn to Fly Course

Bret Koebbe
2 replies
  1. Robert says:

    Thanks for creating this short course. Wish you did one equally brief for Sporty’s own electronic E6B. Realize I am losing basic pilot skills due to the proliferation of Garmin and Foreflight’s AMAZINGLY powerful hardware and software. I need these refreshers for back-up and safety.
    Best regards,

  2. christopher welling graul says:

    these short videos you post are all good and appreciated. I really like the manual E6B, and have a question for you: when is Sporty’s going to put out a color electronic model, as your top competitor did several years ago? I think yours is better for ease-of-use, but theirs is much easier to read.

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