The role of GPS in our lives

July 11, 2008 by

One standout team at this year’s Tour de France has a familiar name to aviation emblazoned on their chests: Garmin.

After Stage 6 of the grueling 21-stage event, two members of the Garmin-Chipotle team — Christian Vande Velde (USA) and David Millar (GBR) — were in the top five for the overall championship. The team has been leading the fight against blood doping in order to clean up the sport. While I was cheering for Vande Velde as a torch bearer for American cycling, I was struck by the omnipresence of GPS technology in our lives.

The aviation segment at Garmin only represents a small part of the company’s overall business. Satellites in space are now governing all aspects of life from extreme exploration to day-to-day package delivering. While I love having the technology in the cockpit, the way it improves situational awareness, provides more direct routing, and keeps me out of restricted areas, I’m vowing not to completely part with old ways.

When I’m in the mountains I like to take along a compass and altimeter. I keep track of time as I’m hiking and pick out checkpoints. I’ve managed to keep myself out of trouble, even in some of the most confusing wilderness areas in Utah, Montana, and Wyoming. Mostly, it’s a matter of applying the same principle we learn about in aviation: trust the instruments.

For even more fun, I want to learn celestial navigation like super navigator Christoforo Colombo. AOPA Pilot published an interesting article on the subject back in 2003.

All this boils down to a greater respect and understanding of new technology. There’s nothing like hitting “direct to” and watching the box work its magic. Go Garmin-Chipotle! You’ve got a lot riding on your shoulders.


4 Responses to “The role of GPS in our lives”

  1. Jay W Cole Says:

    You’re right. GPS is great. But someday the world is going to go to war and the Department of Defense is going to turn off satellites, ignition chips, radio communications capabilities, fuel supplies and everything electronic that you can imagine. At that point, you won’t even be able to sit at home with your TV and Computer to read about what’s happening. This government is even shutting down short wave radio station authorizations as we speak.


  2. Richard Henrikson Says:

    And that’s why we need to be in touch with our government!

  3. ol' Don Herrman Says:

    Nate & Jay . . .
    Aren’t you glad the satellites are made by Garmin & or other industrial firms, rather than some Government entity ?

  4. Jay W Cole Says:

    Mr. Herrman,
    The satellite constellation is operated by the Department of Defense. One EMP (electromagnetic pulse) is all it will take to shut down life as we know it in America regardless of who builds the satellites. The government plan is to turn the satellites off before war even gets to that stage.

    Mr Henrikson,
    Being in touch with our government is not enough. Government makes for a poor servant and a cruel taskmaster if it is not subdued regularly by those it is supposed to represent. Government naturally becomes a heartless, thoughtless and cold killer of the innocent, always tending toward tyranny if not stopped by concerned citizens with an iron will, a keen understanding and Wisdom From On High.


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