August 2017

Download the Full August 2017 Issue PDF

Subscribers Only - While I was recently shopping at BestBuy for a wireless music speaker, a salesperson who arbitrarily remarked that Bose was the best got me thinking about pilots shopping for premium aviation headsets, a market dominated by Bose and also Lightspeed for as long as I can remember. While Bose may be the most recognizable name in both the consumer audio and aviation headset markets, don’t forget that Lightspeed Aviation was a major force in shifting the market from passive to active noise cancelling headsets in the early 1990s.

The ANR Headset Market Is Shrinking

While I was recently shopping at BestBuy for a wireless music speaker, a salesperson who arbitrarily remarked that Bose was the best got me thinking about pilots shopping for premium aviation headsets, a market dominated by Bose and also Lightspeed for as long as I can remember. While Bose may be the most recognizable name in both the consumer audio and aviation headset markets, don’t forget that Lightspeed Aviation was a major force in shifting the market from passive to active noise cancelling headsets in the early 1990s.

Letters From Readers: August 2017

As for whole-airplane parachutes, I’ve given quite a bit of instruction in a Flight Design CT LSA and once found the sky ahead filled with seagulls and wondered if I would shortly need to pull the red handle, but I’m ambivalent about it when I’m flying the Diamond. For me, the cost of servicing the CAPS in the Cirrus was one of the negatives in buying a used one.

Navcomm Buyer’s Guide: Equip For How You Fly

On the verge of extinction nearly 10 years ago, the standalone navcomm radio barely soldiers on today. While there are few choices for new ones (there’s a much larger market for standalone comm radios), a navcomm installation could make sense for basic panels and for advanced ones to back up a GPS. Hang on to your wallet. If the panel hasn’t seen a radio upgrade in a while, you could shell out more money than you anticipated to upgrade the antenna system and gut out old wiring.

LED Lighting: Ever More Choices

Been in a new car showroom lately? You’ll be hard pressed to find a lowly incandescent bulb in so much as a dome light. The same is true for new aircraft. Not many are sporting old-school filament lamps for landing, taxi and position lights. As a byproduct of an avalanche of LED manufacturing, we’ve found more applications for these lamps than ever for legacy aircraft.

SiriusXM Weather: WSI Cancels InFlight

Subscribers Only - If you own an Avidyne MLB700 or WSI AV300-series satellite weather receiver, you might look for a replacement. At the end of 2017, WSI—now branded The Weather Company, an IBM Business—is pulling the plug on its InFlight cockpit weather service that it delivers by SiriusXM satellites. Avidyne said it isn’t offering a replacement receiver because there’s more demand for ADS-B systems.

Warbird Ownership: Respect Required

Warbird ownership: “It’s not for the faint of heart, but there’s nothing like it,” according to warbird owner and airshow pilot Stan Musick. While it takes cubic money to acquire and operate big-time warbirds—WWII fighter, bombers and transports and post-war jets—the path toward owning and safely operating an airplane in the major league of general aviation is the same for those armed with bags of money or simply determination: You’ve got to spend quality time in the minor leagues first.

Training, Certification and Insurance

Not surprisingly, when you’re about to fly an airplane with more than enough torque and P-factor to roll you inverted in a heartbeat, malicious stall behavior and the ability to blow through the 250-KIAS-under-10,000-foot speed limit and laugh, the FAA and insurers are going to have something to say about it.

Smart Anemometers: WeatherFlow a Top Pick

Subscribers Only - I reviewed Vaavud’s first-gen Mjolnir smartphone anemometer a few years ago and discovered its shortcomings, yet appreciated its utility on the water and land. I used it for seaplane flying on remote lakes where local wind reports weren’t available, and to compare aging ATIS recordings on the home field. The disappointment was a lack of wind direction display.

Metal in the Oil Filter: Benign To Catastrophic

Subscribers Only - In addition to oil lab analysis, we’ve always recommended cutting open the spin-on filter for physical analysis. If the engine is shedding certain metals, you could spot them in the filter, especially ones that have trap magnets.

Cheetahs and Tigers

Subscribers Only - The Grumman Cheetah and bigger-engined Tiger may be overlooked by some buyers searching the crowded under-$50K used airplane market. In fact, among entry-level Cessna and Piper models, the AA-5A Cheetah could very well be a used market leader. With a sporty slide-back canopy, snappy handling and reasonable cruise speed for its fuel-sipping 150-HP powerplant, a Cheetah works for training, traveling and for tooling around the local area. On the other hand, the 180-HP AA-5B Tiger might be the better of the two cats when more climb performance and load-hauling is needed.