November 11, 2009
April 13 Win-a-Six Does Sun 'n Fun
AOPA's sweepstakes airplane, the "Win a Six in '06" Cherokee Six, was a big hit at this year's Sun 'n Fun Fly-In. Every day, hundreds of members and others ogled the airplane. The three-blade Hartzell propeller, with its snazzy paint job from American Propeller Service, got the most comments. But the LoPresti speed mods also drew a huge share of the favorable observations. The cowling in particular gives the airplane a much more modern look, and the aerodynamic aspects of the cowling and LoPresti wheelpants also boosts cruise speeds.
As for the interior, a finished seat was on display, brought in by Jimmy Jones of Aircraft Interiors of Memphis - the Six's interior shop. The leather seat certainly had a top-quality look and feel to it and gave viewers a good idea of what was to come. The interior will not be finished until September.
Many who came by the AOPA display at Sun 'n Fun wanted to see the airplane's instrument panel. But it was not to be. We covered up the bad old panel with a life-size poster made by Muncie Aviation, of Muncie, Indiana. Muncie made the poster so visitors could see what the next step in the renovation process would yield. In a clever design twist, the poster fit over the two control columns and fit the panel dimensions almost perfectly.
On this very "flat" panel, gawkers could see what is to come: a panel distinguished by a Sandel EHSI, Avidyne EX500 with traffic and datalink weather, dual Garmin 530/430 setup, S-TEC System 55X autopilot with altitude preselect, and JP Instruments' new EDM-930 engine analyzer/fuel totalizer. All will be welcome additions to the Six. And as the one who's been flying the airplane from shop to shop during the refurbishment, yours truly will be the first beneficiary of all those new avionics. I'll especially like it when the original Piper engine gauges get tossed out and replaced by the EDM-930. I'll have a precise handle on my fuel status, plus see all engine information in living, LCD color.
Back to LoPresti Speed Merchants Right after Sun 'n Fun, I flew the Six back to the LoPresti shop for the installation of the one-piece windshield from LP Aero Plastics and Kosola & Associates. The carburetor heat valve also needed attention (the carburetor heat would only reach some 62 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the JP Instruments EDM-700 already installed in the airplane). That's not nearly hot enough. The problem was a bead of welding that prevented the heat valve from operating its full range. Not enough heated air was getting to the carburetor's throat. Now, that's been fixed.
As with the other work done at LoPresti, A&P/IA Rick Wisniewski headed up the work and performed much of it himself. He came early and stayed late, just so our/your Cherokee Six could do its best to meet its scheduled appearances. And he did it with good humor. He held up especially well when we were confronted with a dead battery and spent a fair amount of time "jumping" it for the departure to Sun 'n Fun. Thanks so much, Rick. The beer is in the refrigerator.
On to Muncie As I write this, I'm waiting for the windshield installation to finish up. Soon, I'll head north to Muncie Aviation. There, the old panel will get the heave-ho and be replaced with one more fitting of a sweepstakes airplane. I can hardly wait. Bill Roundtree, Muncie's avionics chief, will supervise the huge work package there, and I'm confident the work will be up to his usual high standards. Muncie Aviation, by the way, is the oldest Piper/New Piper dealer in the world and is owned by its employees.
My plan is to launch out of Vero Beach at oh-dark-thirty and fly the whole trip with a single stop - somewhere west of Atlanta. Of course, I'll have to wait for VFR weather, owing to the current panel's many deficiencies.
Then, AOPA's Fly-In The plan is for all of Muncie's work to be done in time for me to fly the Six to AOPA headquarters at the Frederick, Maryland Municipal Airport, where our annual fly-in will happen on June 3. It's the first Saturday in June. I'm hoping to see you there and show off the new panel.
As always, stayed tuned for more updates and details on the Win-A-Six project. Just go to www.aopa.org/sweeps/, and we'll fill you in with the latest reports, photos, and videos.
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