AOPA Get Your Glass Sweepstakes Update -- Those burning questions

April 24, 2008

Sweeps Update

Project Update: April 24, 2008

Those burning questions

By Ian J. Twombly

It’s mid-April and we’re approximately one-third of the way through this year’s sweepstakes project, “Get Your Glass.” Of course, those who have been following along dutifully here each week know that work on the 1976 Piper Archer is almost complete. It’s going so fast we can’t keep up online!

This week we decided to take time away from the regular updates and answer some questions we’ve received along the way. Plus, we wanted to save the best part for last and really draw out the suspense of the panel work. Thanks for sending in those questions, and remember that it doesn’t end here. Please feel free to send an e-mail with any comments, concerns, or queries you have as we journey through the final two-thirds of the year of “Get Your Glass.”

I had a question about the useful load of the Archer; do you know approximately what it will be? —Scott

It’s difficult to say exactly what the final useful load of N208GG will be when all is said and done, but we do know what it is at this point in the process. The rsquo;76 Archerrsquo;s max gross takeoff weight is 2,550 pounds. Right now the empty weight is roughly 1,627 pounds, for a useful load of 923 pounds. However, Penn Avionics still has to add the S-Tec Fifty Five X autopilot, the JP Instruments EDM 800 engine analyzer, and some cosmetic upgrades like the flat metal panel.

You mentioned ordering a new aileron, etc., however, you didn’t mention how you repaired the scrape on the underside of the wing. Was Bondo used? —George

This is in reference to the damage on the underside of the left wing that was present when we purchased the aircraft. The ailerons were recovered thanks to Williams Airmotive. The wing skins were fixed with a filling compound called Evercoat Lite Weight. Because of the huge expense and time involved in replacing skins, we decided to let Oxford Aviation go forward with its plan to fill the dent. It worked nicely.

What do the VGs do?

We heard this question a number of times at Sun ’n Fun. The vortex generators are made by Micro AeroDynamics. They generate spiral airflow that “energies the boundary layer.” The result is a lower stall speed—a nine percent reduction in the Archer—and better low-speed handling. AOPA Pilot associate editor Steve Ells wrote about VGs in a feature last year. You can find it online.

Can I buy the impregnated vinyl you mention for sound damping? Does it come in aerosol cans, and who makes and sells it? —Charles

This is actually a proprietary system that Oxford Aviation developed to aid in sound dampening. It takes away the oil can effect and reduces vibration through the fuselage skins. And after flying in the Archer for a number of hours, there’s no question it works.

Did AOPA get stuck with the onerous sales tax gimmick state of Maine is imposing on visiting aircraft? —Al

This question came up a lot at the beginning of the process when the Maine tax issue was hot. Just this week AOPA was handed a set back when we learned a bill we worked on was gutted and made no provision for general aviation tax relief. To answer the question, we were not sent a tax bill. The Archer was undergoing maintenance in the state, which has been exempt from such charges. It’s an unfortunate situation that Maine businesses are caught up in. It’s such a beautiful state to fly in, and I’m sorry that many pilots won’t see it for fear of being sent a bill.

Is Flight1 going to do the software this year? —Butch

This has also been a common question since the project began, further reinforcing what a fun benefit the flight simulator software download has been in recent years. Over the past three years Flight1 Software has developed a download plug-in for various versions of Microsoft Flight Simulator that AOPA has offered as a members benefit. Unfortunately, the folks at Flight1 tell us they are very busy working on other projects this year, and it doesn’t seem likely they will create a download again this year. However, we’re actively working with the staff from Aspen Avionics to see if we can offer a fun interactive feature on the sweepstakes homepage. But you can still download the Flight1 plug-ins for previous sweepstakes projects, such as the Catch-A-Cardinal.

Have you flown the airplane at night? How does the visibility of the Aspen display compare to steam gauges lit with lights? —Cullen

The Aspen Avionics EFD1000 primary flight display is the cornerstone of this year’s glass panel. It has some pretty awesome capability at a very attractive price. I have flown with it at night, and I find it to be much easier to read than standard steam gauges. That’s to be expected with this type of display. A key feature of the unit is its shallow menu system; setting the display brightness benefits from that. With just a button push or two, the user can either select auto dimming, or select the desired brightness automatically. Either way, it goes low enough so as not to blind the user.

What is the readability of the Aspen unit from the copilot’s seat? —Dave

Readability from across the cockpit was a common problem with earlier glass technology. The Aspen unit doesn’t suffer from this problem. It is completely readable from the right seat. To learn more about the Aspen Avionics EFD1000 PFD, visit the April 2008 feature article in AOPA Pilot online.

Just wondering, when the time comes, how is the winning name drawn? —Terry

The winner is chosen at random by an independent accounting firm.

How do I enter the sweepstakes for this aircraft and how many times am I allowed to enter? —Bob

All members automatically receive an entry when joining or renewing their membership between January 1, 2008 and December 31, 2008. Members who join automatic annual renewal, or who have their membership processed by automatic renewal, receive two additional entries. Finally, you can enter by mail. The full list of rules can be found online.

Next week: Poring over the panel

E-mail the author at ian.twombly@aopa.org