Letters: 02/06

Flashlights for Flying
I am not sure how to mildly complain. First, unless the FARs have changed, it is mandatory to carry a D-cell flashlight in your aircraft.

Second, in 60 years of using flashlights, I strongly recommend reversal of one of the cells. And buy high-quality batteries. Reversal prevents the all-too-common definition of a flashlight being an object you carry a pair of dead batteries in.

To use, untwist one end, dump the cells and reinstall in the correct order and then turn it on. And do consider replacement of the batteries as part of your annual.

Art Brothers
Via e-mail


The requirement for D-cell lights is for Part 121 and Part 135 operations only. There’s no specific flashlight requirement for Part 91 operations.


One of my favorite flashlights is the Pelican VersaBright. I found it on the Web for under $20. It projects a pretty wide beam and I keep the green lens in it with the light clipped it to the visor. From there, it does a good job illuminating the cabin with green light for easy chart or unlighted gauge reading.

You could put it in a shirt pocket but I always found that it gave plenty of coverage from the visor. Getting the lens out requires twisting the bezel off, so I would keep a second light to check for ice.

Scott Macari
Via e-mail


Your article on flashlights for flying was informative. However, you were not thinking out of the box. You missed the greatest flashlight out there. It is made by Safelight Industries at www.safe-light.com.

These are powered by one 9-volt battery. They are fully encased in a rubber housing with a one-button on/off. If you push it once, it goes bright, then dimmer, then flashes for an emergency with each push of the button. Also, one model even puts out the SOS signal. But the main feature of this light is that it never shuts off. Yes, that’s correct. It goes into a very dim setting, which means you can always find it in the dark. They make an aviation model in blue, red and green. I have two in my airplane. Being that they are always on, they can be found quickly in the dark. They also have a neck strap. The lights will run up to 40 hours on the high setting and up to a year on the off setting, which really is not off so you can find it in the dark. I also have one in each of my vehicles and gave one to my wife for her purse, plus several in the house.

William A. Yendrzeski
Essex Junction, Vermont


Mode-S or Not?
I have known that my old Narco transponder was going for some time now and transponders not being a particularly exciting item, I had not been looking forward to buying a replacement. When I saw the Garmin GPSMap 396 at OSH last summer, buying a new transponder suddenly got more exciting because I could upgrade to Garmin’s Mode-S GTX330 and get traffic alerts on the 396.

Your article on traffic advisories in the November 2005 issue was like a bucket of cold water: What can the FAA be thinking in taking away the TIS? Anyway, ATC has let me know that I definitely need a new transponder now. So what would you advise? Get a basic cheap Mode-C or step up to the Mode-S and hope I can still get TIS for awhile?

Rick Baier
Via e-mail


As reported in this issue, buying traffic gear is more complicated than it once was. If your budget allows, consider the new TAS600 active system from Avidyne reviewed on page 11. With a new Mode-C transponder—which it appears you need—plan on a $13,000 or so installation. If that’s beyond your budget and you still need the transponder, we think the TIS system remains a good value and we believe TIS will be around for the foreseeable future. For owners who don’t need a new transponder, the Mode-S upgrade just for TIS is less compelling, in our view.


Birdies Explained
Reference your review of VHF handhelds in the October 2005 issue, for those of us who are not electrical engineers, could you explain what “cross modulation” and “birdie” mean?.

David Breznick
Iron Mountain, Michigan


Birdies are unwanted, internally generated signals that a receiver reads and pauses, usually during a scanning process. Most receivers have at least a few of these.

Cross modulation is a form of interference caused when one modulated signal impinges on another. It can cause distortion or poor audio or transmission quality. How we’ll it’s controlled is often a function of circuit design.


Bike Friday
Your article on folding bicycles left off one of the best companies in the field—Bike Friday (www.bikefriday.com). They have over 40 models of folding bikes ranging from $695 to over $5000. Their selection includes touring, road, mountain and recumbent folders. You can get various sizes to ensure a comfortable fit. They even have tandem folding bikes.

After trying several models of folding bicycles, my wife purchased two Bike Fridays for our Cessna 182. I can fit both of them into the baggage compartment and still have room for a couple of bike bags, support gear and the helmets. It takes about five minutes to set them up or fold them and I can get them through the airplane’s baggage door. The folding pedals, while a little detail, really help with the fit.

My wife and I ride them all day long. They’re even more comfortable than my regular, full-size bike. Most weekends during the summer and fall we load the bikes and take off for a fly/ride day trip. The bikes are a pleasure to ride. We are not into distance or speed, just an enjoyable ride with nice scenery and/or interesting towns. And the best part is that we get to spend time doing two things we enjoy—flying and biking.

David Fisher
Brookline, Massachusetts


Actually, we contacted Bike Friday during our research and the company told us it didn’t have a suitable product in our stated price range. They’ve since changed their mind and are sending a bike for a follow-up review.


In our January issue, several of the points we made about TrueFlight’s EFB software were in error. You can in fact scroll maps from any of the pages and flightplans can be deleted both manually and from a menu option. Although no demo is available, an online video manual is at the correct URL of www.trueflight.org. In the December issue, we inadvertently omitted a photo credit on page 5. The photo was provided by www.flightprep.com.