October 1, 2007
Julie K. Boatman
Some of the best product demonstrations happen on the fly - or at The Fly Market - at EAA AirVenture at Oshkosh every year. This year's show was no different, with these new or improved products topping our editor's list of favorites for the week.
As the project manager for the 2007 AOPA sweepstakes airplane (see " AOPA's Catch-A-Cardinal Sweepstakes: Cross-Country Cruise," page 129), I spent quality time next to our Catch-A-Cardinal during the show. Which meant I was an open target for any product salesman who happened to stroll by - but that can be a good thing.
By far, the most immediately useful of the products to which I was introduced had to be the reflective aircraft markers called Plane Sights, produced by Redfab. Former line service technician Michael Moore founded the company after witnessing far too many close calls (and not-so-near misses) during his job on the ramp. He created the markers, which secure onto aircraft wingtips and vertical stabilizers to help pilots and ground crew keep an eye on the places most often struck on an airplane.
We fastened Plane Sights markers onto the wingtips of the Catch-A-Cardinal with minimal effort, and they stayed put throughout the show - including a couple of upper Midwest thunderstorms. The company also makes markers for pitot tubes, static wicks, and prop blades. Price: from $7 for a pitot tube cover; $96 for a three-blade prop marker Contact: www.planesights.com
Staying cool is always a popular concept (sometimes completely unattainable) at a summer airshow, so the folks from Pol-Air had a hunch (and they were correct) that I would appreciate a demonstration of their latest portable air chiller, the Pol-Air B310.
The B310 uses ice to simultaneously lower cabin air temperature and reduce humidity. A 12-volt DC electric motor pulls air across a bed of ice (a 24-volt converter is available as well); twin ducts can be aimed anywhere you choose - handy for directing cooling air exactly where you need it in flight or on the ground.
A removable tray catches the water runoff from the ice, and a temporary installation is possible to pass the water through the cabin floor to drain outside if desired.
The B310 plugs into any 12-volt outlet or cigarette lighter in the cabin. The unit weighs 10 pounds empty and holds up to 35 pounds of ice. Price: $825 for the 12-volt model; $900 for the 24-volt model Contact: 877/474-2841; www.pol-air.com
Telex has recalled its Stratus 50-D and Stratus Digital Headsets (with external battery boxes) for a no-charge modification. Incorrect insertion of batteries in unmodified battery boxes can lead to an issue with the headsets. For more information, contact Telex's service department: 800/218-2410; ship headsets to:
Telex Communications Attn. Stratus Service 1720 East 14th Street Glencoe, Minnesota 55336
At every airshow, somewhere in the exhibit halls you'll find a company that is demonstrating a fascinating product that hasn't quite yet made it to market but promises great things. We never know 100 percent if the product will come to fruition, but we honestly hope that it turns out to be all that it portends to be.
For AirVenture 2007, this product was Vertical Power's VP-200. The VP-200 is an "advanced electrical system" for experimental aircraft consisting of a control unit, switching panel, key fob, and cables. The VP-200 display and switching panels install into the aircraft instrument panel, while the control unit is housed behind it, and the panels provide manual switching for everything electrical in the airplane - avionics, flap motor, lights, and trim motor, for example. The control unit takes the place of circuit breakers, relays, and voltage converters, replacing them with the solid-state circuitry housed in a red metal box. You run wires to each electrical component from the box, and configure the system via the four-color liquid crystal display on the display unit. The switch panel links separately to the control unit, and houses the master switch, magneto switch, emergency switch, and three user-configurable on/off switches. The company promises a major reduction in wiring complexity overall; the system additionally supports dual independent buses and dual alternators.
The VP-200 system sorts every function into modes, allowing you to run checklists corresponding to various stages of flight, from Pre-Flight Mode to Landing Mode. Modes are commanded by soft keys on the display bezel. Pressing the Emergency button instantly reconfigures the system bringing up Emergency soft keys. Graphic engine management is another critical feature. And, taking the VP-200 a step closer to the auto world, the key fob serves as a remote control device for the system. Additional configuration allows for neat tricks such as opening a canopy lock with the remote.
In operation, the VP-200 envelops you in a pretty slick world. Upon start up, the panel tells you whether there are any shorts or faults in the electrical system, and indicates trim position and battery voltage. Components such as the essential bus, avionics, boost pump, and landing lights operate using switches as you've configured them. The reverse allows you to shed load quickly in the event of an electrical system event. Vertical Power began delivering units in August. Price: $6,495 for the VP-200 Contact: 505/715-6172; www.verticalpower.com
Every owner, every avionics installer, and every A&P technician has or will run up against a task where a nut, washer, or other fastener must be installed in a spot where access is so limited that the only solution seems to be to graft one or two E.T.-like digits in the place of normal fingers. Stick It, a biodegradable temporary adhesive from BKD Aerospace Industries, solves this dilemma. Airplane workers that have Stick It in their tool boxes will no longer have to hope that gob of zinc chromate putty will be sticky enough, or that the wrap of duct tape around their finger will do the job. Pull out a tube of Stick It, wipe a little on the part, attach it to your wrench or other tool, and put it in position. Stick It is non-corroding and non-conductive and comes in handy dispensers that look like giant lipstick cases. Stick It is available from Aeroworks. - Steven W. Ells Price: $10.99 Contact: 866/253-2090; www.aeroworks.com
WSI and Avidyne have announced a partnership in which Avidyne will manufacture WSI hardware. The newly released Avidyne-built AV-300 receives WSI's InFlight Weather service; the AV-350 receives both the InFlight service and Sirius Satellite Radio programming - and both units are designed to work with several multifunction displays. Current AV-100 and AV-200 displays can be upgraded. Price: $3,688 for the AV-300; $5,290 for the AV-350; $659 for the antenna Contact: www.wsi.com; www.avidyne.com
The Aircraft Electronics Association has released its 2007-2008 Pilot's Guide to Avionics. The directory features listings of member avionics repair stations and manufacturers, along with a number of articles authored by avionics experts across the industry to help you select the best equipment for your aircraft.
You can pick up a free copy at AOPA Expo in Hartford, Connecticut. Price: Free Contact: www.aea.net
Unless otherwise stated, products listed 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,
In a major deal between two of the best-known U.S. antique aircraft firms, Rare Aircraft has purchased a huge inventory of Stearman parts from Air Repair and will begin producing as-new Golden Age biplanes.
Garmin has announced an upgrade making new features and options available to operators of G1000-equipped King Airs in the 200/250/300/350 series.
With a closing speed of about 900 knots, Air Force pilots on a training mission have seconds to aim and shoot heat-seeking and radar guided missiles at a drone target. Their success came from repeated rehearsals. But as author Larry Brown writes, “there is nothing like the real thing to gain experience.”
AOPA thanks our members for their continued support in protecting the freedom to fly.