Pilot Products

October 1, 2008

Stay Sealed fuel cap cover

Leaky fuel caps are a safety issue. The new Stay Sealed aircraft fuel cap cover was designed to keep the water out of an airplane’s fuel tanks. The principle is simple—instead of buying a new fuel cap or getting the old tank seal fixed, the bright-red cover from Stay Sealed blocks rain, snow, and ice from ever reaching the cap.

The cover is made from a hard, durable plastic and comes with a glow-in-the-dark “remove before flight” tag. According to the company, the fuel cap cover has been tested for freezing, heat, and high UV conditions with no failures. We tried the cap on a Cessna 172, and it locked down securely and stayed in place well. Although we can’t speak of the cap’s performance, Stay Sealed’s Ken Willaford said a Piper testset went through 30 inches of rain in Tropical Storm Fay without the original fuel cap’s seal installed and didn’t let in a drop. Three different cap models are available; one for Cessnas with raised fuel caps, one for older Cessnas with recessed caps, and one for Pipers with raised caps. The Stay Sealed cap cover is sold one to a package.
Price: $42.50 to $47
Contact: www.staysealed.com; 866-9-STAYSEALED

Voyager 4.0

Seattle Avionics Software’s new Voyager 4.0 is a complete flight planning and electronic flight bag software. It combines a robust preflight planning package with GPS-enabled moving map display for everything a pilot needs to get from point A to B.

Voyager’s flight planning tool is detailed and customizable. After loading a pilot and aircraft profile, users can plan a quick flight or go through the more detailed flight planning engine. Voyager accounts for everything from winds and terrain to preferred routes and fuel price. Users can let the software work its magic or select specific waypoints along the route. Water, certain classes of airspace, and other factors can also be automatically excluded from the flight plan.

Once the plan is finished, Voyager displays it on a chart. This chart is the biggest addition to version 4.0. It’s a proprietary charting engine that uses Microsoft DirectX, the same technology that powers Google Earth and Microsoft Flight Simulator. One of the overarching themes of Voyager is the ability to customize, and here on the main chart it’s easy and quick. The route can be rubberbanded as the user wishes. A scanned sectional or other FAA chart can be selected as the background. Weather and fuel prices are automatically displayed and updated continuously so long as the program is connected to the Internet.

When it’s time to go flying, a Bluetooth GPS turns Voyager into a handheld GPS with moving map display. Again, any chart can be selected, and the airplane will appear on it—even approach plates. The view can be switched to 3-D for the best in situational awareness, including a highway in the sky depiction. Voyager is also XM weather-capable, meaning it has the ability to display near real-time weather.

We tested Voyager on a Fujitsu T2010 tablet ($2,648, but Voyager can run on any computer or tablet) on the trip to and from EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh and were impressed with the software’s utility, ease of use, and display. Like many pieces of office software, it has myriad functions that would take many hours to learn, but the basics are very easy and useful. Especially nice were the ability to see weather we had downloaded before leaving, and check 100ll.com fuel prices in flight. Voyager 4.0 is fun to use, completely customizable, and has too many features to mention here. It could easily take the place of your preflight planning software and handheld GPS.
Price: $149 to $199 per module; $99 per year for chart updates.
Contact: www.seattleavionics.com; 425-806-0249

‘Attitude Flying’ with Dick Rutan

Ever done anything stupid when you’re flying? Dick Rutan, who successfully circled the globe nonstop with Jeana Yeager, uses this video to describe every embarrassing thing he ever did in the air that nearly killed him. The list begins one very dark night in Vietnam and continues to this day.

It’s entertaining considering the Hollywood approach taken by filmmaker and former entertainer Charlie Hewitt of Anchorage, Alaska. Hewitt, an instrument-rated pilot, has created a DVD as slick as anything you’ve ever rented from Blockbuster and appears in the video as Rutan’s student. He’s made safety videos for the FAA that you can watch free on his Web site (click on the word “films” hidden by a black band at the top of the page), along with videos and radio commercials for corporate, private, and political clients.

The more important purpose of this video, termed “enterTRAINment” by Hewitt, is Rutan’s explanation of why many of us are more willing to follow our body senses rather than our instruments. Spatial disorientation training was never this much fun.

Rutan coins a phrase that will resonate with pilots who feel overloaded during instrument flight—“My [mental] task box is saturated.”

Rutan proceeds to explain how he overlooked a fire-warning light while testing a rocket airplane—he was more interested in two dials that can indicate the rocket is blowing up than he was on the fire light. He gives you a tip on seeing the big picture again after you become distracted in flight.

And next time you make a mistake in the cockpit, explain to passengers that it was not you, it was “the other pilot” that lives inside you. Rutan firmly believes there is an “evil me” living inside all of us who is subject to ignoring training when the “good me” is overloaded.

Finally he gives you a quick tip—a short one—that will greatly reduce your workload when hand-flying in instrument conditions. Is all that worth 60 bucks? You bet it is.
Price: $60
Contact: http://flyrightfilms.comAlton K. Marsh

QUICK HITS

The Donaldson Company announced its new synthetic intake filters are now PMA-approved for various Cessna, Piper, Mooney, Beechcraft, and Diamond models. Donaldson said lab tests have shown an increase in horsepower over other aftermarket STC’d filters. Each filter is designed to last 500 hours, three years, or five cleanings.
Price: varies
Contact: www.donaldson.aero/ga; 866-323-0394

A small aviation company called Steve’s Aircraft from White City, Oregon, is hoping to help pilots solve one of aviation’s most annoying maintenance issues—a leaking gascolator. Steve’s now produces PMA-approved replacement gascolators for certain Pipers, Cessnas, and 18 other different makes of aircraft. The direct replacement gascolators are machined from a solid piece of aluminum, are available in three-and four-ounce systems with various fuel line sizes, and are O-ring sealed.
Price: $200 to $285
Contact: www.stevesaircraft.com; 541-826-9729

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 the products editor at ian.twombly@aopa.org.

Ian J. Twombly

Ian J. Twombly | "Flight Training" Editor

Flight Training Editor Ian J. Twombly joined AOPA in 2003 and is an instrument flight instructor.