Letters: 04/06

VGs and Stability
With regard to your article in the February 2006 issue on vortex generators, we have VGs on our 1965 B55 Baron. The benefits that Rick Durden describes in the article are confirmed by our experience. But, as with any engineering change, there are compromises.

The first is specific to Barons: The combination of VGs and an opencabin door make the aircraft unstable in pitch, especially at lowspeeds. Three of the partners in our aircraft have experienced this whenthe door has popped open in flight. In a VG-equipped Baron, its critically important to have the door adjusted properly and to confirm the latches are engaged before takeoff.

The second applies to all VG-equipped aircraft. VGs enable the wing to fly at a higher angle of attack and thus lower Vs (stall speed) of the aircraft. In turbulence, you want the wing to stall before the design limit load of the structure is reached. This occurs at or below Va (maneuvering speed).

With VGs, the aircrafts Va is lowered proportionally to decrease in Vs. Be sure to calculate and record the lowered Va for your VG-equipped aircraft.

Jeremy Jacobsohn
Rockville, Maryland


Electronic Flightbags
An excellent article in Februarys Aviation Consumer on electronic flightbags. I, however, take a different tack. I like things simple. When I grew up, I did not need an instruction book telling me how to operate my watch or turn on or tune my radio. I was impressed by Mr. Suttons thorough exploration of his ideal system. The problem is that it would require an instruction manual which, if carried in his 310, would render it over gross. I would love to have an EFB that would simply replace my Jeppesen manuals and be no larger or more complicated to operate. I already have weather and a moving map in my airplane-I just want something to replace the manuals. Certainly having a multipurpose device that would put all of the things Mr. Sutton wants might be fine for some people, but others want a simpler approach.

Even my handheld back-up radio that I rarely use has so many features that I need to refer to the manual to figure out how to change frequencies. I have the same problem with my cellphone. I want a phone, not a combination camera, MP3 player, Excel, Word, e-mail device and so on, all in one unit.

I am sure there are a lot more like me out there. I am not really stupid-I am an engineer with an advanced degree in computer science-I just want things intuitive, like the good old days.

Frank M. Singer
via e-mail


Smart Chargers
I read your article on aircraft battery tenders in the January 2006 issue of The Aviation Consumer and found it very interesting. I would like to make you aware of the Patco Electronics Intelitender (www.patcoelectronics.com) that I have used with good success.

Based on the photos and description in the article and your performance evaluations, it appears to be a worthy competitor to the units reviewed.

The Intelitender is not only microprocessor controlled, it is also temperature compensated to match the charging profile to the ambient temperature of the battery. The temperature compensation is especially important for aircraft that are stored in either hot or cold climates.

The case of the Intelitender is a rugged extruded aluminum heat sink with plastic end caps and three indicator LEDs. The quality of the fit and finish is excellent. Ive attached a data sheet that covers the technical details. The extended temperature unit sells for $75 direct from the manufacturer. Standard temperature range units are available from DigiKey for a few bucks less.

Paul Dobosz
Noblesville, Indiana


Garmin Magnet
Regarding the magnet on the Garmin 396 antenna, I went to the hardware store and bought an electrical junction box cover for 65 cents. It acts as a keeper for the magnet and allows me to put it on the brow of my Mooney as long as it is about 8 inches or more away from the compass.

Regarding your article on flashlights in the December issue, you didnt mention the Streamlight Stylus, a penlight that fits in my pocket protector and is one of the neatest and handiest flashlights Ive ever seen. Its a white LED and uses slim AAAA batteries.

They last a long time, as Ive had this for a couple years and use it intermittently, but have yet to replace them. I bought it through The Proper Aircraft, the only catalog Ive seen it in. (See www.theproperaircraft.com.) By the way, I found there is a Web site, www.flashlights.com, that has reviews of flashlights and related as they come out. Who knew?

Alan Stewart
Belleville, Michigan

We knew, actually. Also, correspondent Scott Dyer sent us this note: Heres a procedure on how to remove the magnets from the Garmin antenna/receiver. The guy did a nice job, if someone wants them out: www.numa.aero/GXM30.html. (At press time, the site appeared to be temporarily down.)


More Flashlights
I enjoyed the recent article on cockpit flashlights. However, no mention was made about the use of a small head lamp, thus freeing up both hands. L.L. Bean and R.E.I. have several good ones.

Chuck Jarecki
Polson, Montana


ASA Beef
Some years ago, I helped a friend purchase an On Top PCATD system for our entertainment and edification and specifically to help get a flying job. I subsequently ended up owning the system outright and used it my flight school.

When the On Top program works, it is probably as good a program as any other, if not as fancy. Unfortunately, getting it to work was a nightmare for us. ASAs product support was somewhere between abysmal and execrable, in my view.

This would have been much less of an issue if the technical manuals that accompanied our purchase were accurate or even comprehensible. Eventually, we determined that important parts of the manual were for a different unit.

ASA felt that since we had purchased the unit from a supplier, rather than directly from them, that they had no responsibility to support it. I have seen this attitude since with other electronic products from ASA purchased by my students. I will never purchase another electronic product-hardware or software-from ASA and I discourage my students from doing so.

Daniel Garner
Via e-mail

Yours is the first complaint weve heard about ASA. We passed your note to the company and heres a reply from ASAs Cliff Seretan: Were honestly surprised to hear of this customers experience. ASA prides itself on quality products and excellent customer service. We fully support all ASA products, regardless of where or from whom they were purchased.

Customers can contact us through the ASA Website at www.asa2fly.com, by calling the toll-free hotline at 800-426-8338 or e-mailing directly to [email protected]. Our fax is 425-235-0128. In addition to dedicating staff to provide live customer support, we also have one of the best product warranties in the industry: a 45-day money back guarantee if anyone is less than satisfied.


Cheap Plates
The best deal on the market for approach plates is a monthly CD from Sportys with all U.S. approach plates on it for $10.95. I load them on my Dell Latitude laptop, print my destinations and alternates before every trip and throw them all away when I get home. If I divert to somewhere that I havent printed the chart, I fly it off my laptop. That has happened twice in three years and wasnt at all difficult. Updating consists of loading new CD contents every 28 days and tossing the old CD.

Given that the Garmin 430 and 530 already know the approaches, all I really need from the charts is altitudes and frequencies. I keep all four local airports printed in notebook-size 8 by 11 inches, so I can read them in the dark while sucking up the seat cushion.

Ron Moore
Benton, Arkansas