February 1, 1997
The Brits have entered a challenger into the high-end GPS moving map market with the Skyforce Avionics Skymap II and Tracker II. The Skymap II sets itself apart from other handhelds by offering the largest screen of any self-contained handheld and the option of panel mounting. The Tracker II is essentially the same as the Skymap except that it does not contain a GPS receiver. The Tracker can display, in map form, the information from a remote GPS receiver.
The Skymap/Tracker has a 5-inch-diagonal LCD screen that can be set for vertical (portrait) or horizontal (landscape) views. The overall unit size is only slightly larger than its screen, but that is contrasted by a somewhat bulky remote antenna. The actual map portion of the screen measures about 3.25 inches diagonally and can be oriented north up or track up. Around the perimeter of the map is useful information such as bearing, track, groundspeed, ETE, ETA, distance, and the current position of the aircraft in relation to the nearest navaid or airport. With all of the information on one screen, the Skyforce eliminates the toggling back and forth through pages of information, an inconvenience typical of other handhelds.
The Skyforce's compact size makes yoke mounting easy in airplanes where panel mounting is not an option. A leg strap makes the Skyforce user-friendly in airplanes with no room for a yoke mount. The leg strap and portrait view make an excellent combination for readability, comfort, and security in turbulent conditions.
A clever little joystick makes data inputs and cursor movements a breeze. Flight planning, E6-B functions, and vertical navigation setups are also easy with the Skyforce. Map clarity is not as good as in Garmin's GPSMap 195, but the lack of pixels allows the Skyforce product to zoom in and out faster than the 195. Major roads, railroads, and cities are depicted on scales ranging from a half mile to 1,000 miles. More intermediate scales would be a nice addition; for example, the leap from 90 miles to 400 miles seems a little excessive. In addition, the Skymap's receiver is not as fast as that in the $1,200 Garmin 195, which makes your progress seem jumpy, unlike the smooth depiction characteristic of the more fluid 195.
After very little familiarization, it's easy to perform simple navigation tasks, and most pilots having some experience with handheld GPSs will have it mastered in no time. This ease of use and optional panel mounting come at a rather stiff price, however. The Skymap II lists for $1,699, and the Tracker lists for $929. For more information, contact Skyforce Avionics, 229 Stokes Airport Road, Front Royal, Virginia 22630; telephone 540/622-6222, fax 540/636-8130. — Peter A. Bedell
Many Cessna singles lack storage areas for charts, handheld receivers, pens, flashlights, and other toys that pilots carry with them. But in the 1980s there was a clever product called the Flight File, a plastic filer that fit between the front seats that solved the problem — for a while. Apparently a fire destroyed the building in which the Flight File was built and the company never restarted production. So those who didn't have one were still stuck with throwing charts and other gear on the floor or cramming them into side pockets.
Now Crosswind Concepts has introduced the Cockpit Companion organizer for Cessna's 172, 182, 206, 210, and other models with similar dimensions between the front seats. We installed the Companion in AOPA's "Blueprint 182," unfortunately only after the airplane toured the country last year, promoting the First New 182 sweepstakes. Pilots agreed that it would have made a nice addition to the airplane on those long cross-countries. It fits well in the 182 although it needed to be anchored with hook-and-loop tape, which is provided.
The Companion is made entirely from acrylic that is heavily tinted yet transparent, allowing for easy retrieval of small objects that have fallen into its openings. The bottom compartment is ideal for storing a fire extinguisher, and a boom on the front makes a great hanger for a headset. The openings on the top allow for easy chart storage and retrieval, as you can store charts vertically with the titles facing you. Smaller compartments hold various other pilot belongings, and plugs allow for depth adjustment.
Two styles of the Cockpit Companion are available, one for the 172 and the other for the larger Cessnas. The price is $239 plus $11.50 shipping. California residents must add 7.5 percent sales tax. Crosswind Concepts, 422 Larkfield Center, Suite 274, Santa Rosa, California 95403; telephone 800/684-2746. — PAB
PS Engineering has added stereo sound to its PMA6000/M audio panel with built-in intercom system. The PMA 6000/M-S contains an audio panel that can operate three communications transceivers and five receivers, a six-place stereo intercom system based on the company's PM2000 panel-mount intercom, and a marker beacon receiver. It has two music inputs so that passengers and crew can listen to separate music sources. The price for the PMA6000/M-S is $1,696, or $1,395 without the marker beacon receiver. Contact PS Engineering, 9800 Martel Road, Lenoir City, Tennessee 37772; telephone 423/988-9800. — PAB
Airpac now offers Plane CD, a new and improved version of its popular database product. Search for aircraft owners, pilots, designated examiners, even banks that offer aircraft financing. There is a wide variety of data available. The search function has been simplified. Simply type the information you seek — such as a name, address, rating, aircraft type, or other data — and hit Enter. Plane CD is available for $95, excluding shipping. Update services are $325 for four times a year, and $695 for 12 times a year. Visit the Airpac web site at www.airpac.com or contact the company at 919 S. Bryant Avenue, Edmond, Oklahoma 73034; telephone 800/654-2066 or 405/359-6222. — Alton K. Marsh
Tanis Aircraft Services of Glenwood, Minnesota, best known for its engine preheating systems, recently released the Tanair Engine Preserving Kit for Lycoming and Continental engines. The Tanis kit provides all of the necessary oils, dehydrator plugs, and other materials to protect your cylinders and crankcase from the detrimental effects of inactivity if for some reason your airplane may be inactive for more than a month. Service bulletins from Lycoming and Continental that document the correct procedure are included with the kit. The cost of the kits is $97 for a four-cylinder engine and $146 for a six-cylinder engine. To order, contact Tanis at Post Office Box 117, Glenwood, Minnesota 56334; telephone 800/443-2136, or 800/862-2443 for Minnesota residents. — PAB
Superior Air Parts of Dallas has introduced the Stratus dry air vacuum pump for most Continental and Lycoming engines. Superior has assigned the new pump a 700-hour TBO, at which time it can be overhauled rather than replaced. The Stratus pump comes with a 1-year/unlimited-hour warranty. Superior says that it will credit $100 for Stratus vacuum pumps that are returned in exchange for a new one before failure. List price for a Stratus pump is $320 with exchange. For information or to order, contact Superior at 14280 Gillis Road, Dallas, Texas 75244-3792; telephone 972/663-2020. — PAB
Avcheck Corporation has released its Comcheck 422A aviation radio reception indicator. No more asking "Still there?" when you haven't heard from a controller in a while. The Comcheck will tell you whether or not the radio is turned off, the volume is turned down, the radio is not selected, or if it has failed. The unit's face is about one square inch in size and mounts in a 3/8-inch hole. Price is $875. For more information, contact Avcheck at 3651 Coats Road, Burdett, New York 14818; telephone 607/546-4000. — PAB
Preheat Specialties Incorporated, of Chugiak, Alaska, has introduced the Northern Companion Preheater, a lightweight and compact preheating system designed to run on a variety of fuels including avgas, auto gas, kerosene, and diesel. The unit weighs 6.5 pounds, measures 6 2 17 inches, and puts out approximately 20,000 BTUs, depending on the type of fuel used. The system lists for $365. For information, contact Preheat Specialties at 20717 Birchwood Loop, Chugiak, Alaska 99567; telephone 907/688-2130. — PAB
Spoilers, Incorporated, has obtained a supplemental type certificate to install its Power-Pac aerodynamic spoilers for normally aspirated Beech Baron 58s. Only turbocharged and pressurized Barons were approved previously. According to the company, the hydraulically actuated spoilers allow for rapid descents without the need for large power reductions, decreasing the risk of engine shock cooling. Price for the kit is $7,495. For information, contact Spoilers Inc., 2905 Jahn Road Northwest #15, Gig Harbor, Washington 98335; telephone 800/544-0169. — PAB
How would you like to wake up in the morning with an alarm clock that really sounds an alarm, shouting "Let's go! Go!" And then the rotor on a model of the AH-64 Apache helicopter attached to the clock begins to spin, and the pilot's voice yells, "Fire!" Machine guns on the Apache open up, determined to rouse you from your sound sleep. Do you think you would get up? If not, there is also a B-17 alarm clock that starts its engines — with realistic sound, the manufacturer says — and flies into combat, gun sounds roaring beside your bed while lights flash on the B-17 model. Both are priced at $79 and are available from Executive Travelware, Post Office Box 59387, Chicago, Illinois 60659-0387; telephone 800/397-7477 or 847/673-8282. — AKM
Unless otherwise stated, products listed herein have not been evaluated by AOPA Pilot editors. AOPA assumes no responsibility for products or services listed or for claims or actions by manufacturers or vendors; however, members unable to get satisfaction regarding products listed should advise AOPA. To submit products for evaluation, contact: New Products Editor, AOPA Pilot, 421 Aviation Way, Frederick, Maryland 21701; telephone 301/695-2350.
Safety and Education,
The FAA on Feb. 23 issued a special airworthiness information bulletin recommending preflight inspection of Robinson R44 and R44 II main rotors.
The FAA needs to reform its regulatory and certification processes, including changing the third class medical, AOPA told a House Aviation Subcommittee roundtable.
Pilots focus on preheating the engine during cold weather, but what about the cockpit? More than 30 percent of an aircraft's value is often tied up in the panel.
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