Subscribers Only - In the early days of avionics retrofitting, guys like Harley Bennett were (affectionately, he says) called junkies. Now they’re referred to as legacy avionics specialists. Bennett fell into a nearly 50-year career buying and selling used avionics after equipping his flying club airplanes for IFR using more affordable used avionics. It was the used avionics listings in the publication Trade-A-Plane, plus a demand from avionics shops, that made him realize he could make a living in a business that does nothing but sell used avionics. Bennett has no interest in competing with avionics shops, so his company doesn’t sell new avionics and it doesn’t do installations.
Think beyond oil filter technology because even the most modern filters simply can’t filter out water, acid and blow-by gasses. Blow-by is a smorgasbord of raw and partially burned aviation fuel, carbon dioxide and tiny lead particles that sneak past ring seals, eventually forming damaging sludge and deposits in the engine. Consider that the majority of wear on the surface of lifters and cams comes from abrasive particles (ingested dirt, sand and silicon dioxide, for example) in the 10-micron range—far smaller than the 60-micron filtering capabilities of a paper oil filter.
Subscribers Only - I read with interest Jim Cavanaugh’s article on battery upkeep and battery minders in the September 2016 issue of Aviation Consumer. I am a big believer and have had great results (including eight years of reliable service) from two Concorde gel mat batteries set up in series in a 24-volt Beechcraft Sierra. My question to you relates to testing. I had been told that using a 12-volt load tester on each battery is the approved method to test for battery condition.
Subscribers Only - If you thought even a modest new avionics upgrade was in the budget, but proposals are proving otherwise, plan B might be buying used equipment. While this isn’t a bad plan, a hasty buying decision might end up costing more in the long run. This is especially true when buying complex instruments and avionics that require factory service. Worse is buying equipment, having it installed and paying for troubleshooting when it doesn’t work. In this article, we’ll take a look at the current used avionics market, the potential costs of pricey factory service and some common traps to avoid at any cost. We can’t cover all equipment, but we’ll look at some that may cause problems.
Subscribers Only - We’ll say it up front—in the great scheme of things, your risk of getting hurt or killed in an aircraft accident due to carbon monoxide poisoning is on the low end of the spectrum. From what we can tell, it’s a little below that of having a midair collision. Nevertheless, it’s not zero, our airplanes are aging and maintenance isn’t perfect, so if you fly in an area where you use your heater during at least half the year, we think it’s wise to have a detector in the airplane that will alert you to even very low levels of CO.
Subscribers Only - The chore of rigging the flight controls—which includes, among other things, adjusting control cable tensions—is a maintenance item that’s often neglected by owners and mechanics alike. After all, what could possibly change if the airplane has not changed? But change it does. Parts wear out and clearances change, cables stretch, brackets warp and maintenance of seemingly unrelated systems can lead to unforeseen rigging mayhem. At a minimum, improper rigging means lost airspeed. At worst, it can mean a lost airplane. In this article, we’ll look at the symptoms and describe a do-it-yourself process for checking the rigging on your own. The legwork could save you some shop labor.
Subscribers Only - One of the major announcements from AirVenture 2016 was ForeFlight’s version 8. At least it was major in the eyes of the company. ForeFlight CEO Tyson Weihs told us it “might be our biggest release since 2011.” That year marked ForeFlight’s first release designed specifically for the iPad, which one could argue changed GA cockpit information forever. ForeFlight 8 didn’t actually release until late August, but we’ve logged time with a preview version since this summer and only half agree with Weihs. The new version lays the groundwork for huge changes. However, we doubt the day-to-day use of the app will change for most pilots. Not yet anyway. Check out the sidebar on page 19 for more on that. For what’s actually new in the app, read on.
Subscribers Only - You could argue this is exactly what’s going on with ForeFlight 8 and its new maps system. Wasn’t this what AnywhereMap and the Garmin 396 did? Isn’t this what WingX originally did and still offers? In fact, didn’t sectional and en route charts appear in our tablet apps because users demanded facsimiles of the paper charts?
Subscribers Only - The problem I’ve always had with the Hawk glasses is styling—you won’t win any modeling contracts with these utilitarian frames. This might not matter for action sports and flying missions, but they don’t exactly complement business attire. The company’s new ComfortStyle line changes all that. After a $75 trip to my optometrist for some measurements, I sent the Hawks back to Cedar Park, Texas-based Flying Eyes to be fitted with my prescription. The lenses are made by Shamir Optical Industry and fabricated through Digital Eye Lab. My order was turned in less than one week.
For those who worry about the legalities, the FAA has recently relaxed restrictions on semi-permanent cockpit mounts for tablets, even products that require a sizable panel hole, wiring or plumbing for cooling. These are generally considered minor modifications and although they require logbook entries, they may not require further documentation.
Subscribers Only - Perhaps one of the most recognizable and most produced general aviation aircraft, Cessna’s 172 Skyhawk may also be among the most economical four-placers to own. Sure, there are others worth considering, including the Piper Warrior, Beech Sundowner and even a Grumman Cheetah, but Skyhawks tend to be favored by flight schools. This makes more of them—including modern glass panel-equipped models—available on the used market. And there are plenty of Skyhawks of various vintages to chose from.