Sun ’n Fun is the year’s first major airshow, and it allows pilots and aviation enthusiasts to see, touch, and experience the latest and greatest products manufacturers have been working on over the winter. This year the focus was again on new airplanes, instrument panels, and the like, but there were a few new and fun products throughout the hangars that should appeal to most pilots and aircraft owners.
Elite Simulation Solutions partnered with Flight1 Aviation Technologies to introduce the Elite RC-1V (Victor), a new VFR ab initio flight training device specifically designed to meet the needs of middle and high school technical and magnet programs, Civil Air Patrol organizations, and flight schools and training academies that offer primary flight training. The RC-1 Victor is based on Microsoft’s ESP software. It incorporates Flight1’s high-fidelity aero model, a high-resolution instrument panel on a 22-inch widescreen liquid crystal display, an intuitive “touch screen” instructor/operator station, and a fully enclosed cabin with Elite’s avionics and flight controls. Three high-definition, 52-inch LCDs will immerse students in the world of VFR flight.
Contact: www.flyelite.com; 800-557-7590
Rick Gardner lives in Cancun and flies throughout Mexico using the resort city’s airport as his home base.
He and wife Pia have written and published the Pilot’s Guide to the Yucatan Peninsula since 2006—but this year they’ve expanded the book to include all of Mexico. The book includes current aerial photos of the vast majority of Mexico’s airports, and in addition to runway lengths, elevations, traffic patterns, and radio frequencies, the book lists phone numbers for the people and agencies that run each facility so pilots can get up-to-the-minute information before each trip.
The 2010 Pilot’s Guide to Mexico contains visitor information and recommendations for places to go in each region, detailed information on clearing customs in both the United States and Mexico, and instructions for U.S. pilots for filing flight plans and complying with air traffic control procedures in Mexico. The book is clearly and concisely written, and well presented. Gardner is a U.S.-trained CFI and has extensive flight experience both north and south of the border.
Contact: www.caribbeanskytours.com; 866-420-9265
Owners of Cessna and Piper singles that employ a manual flap extension handle, also known as the “Johnson Bar,” are quite familiar with the long reach to the floor to grab the handle to deploy the flaps. EZ Flap brings the handle to within a comfortable reach, eliminating the need to lean forward with your head behind the instrument panel.
EZ Flap is a safety benefit by allowing you to keep your eyes focused outside during the critical takeoff and landing phases of flight where flaps are utilized most. EZ Flap can be bolted on to the end of the bar in 30 minutes, according to the company, and utilizes a trigger mechanism to remotely operate the release button on the factory-installed handle. Also handy is the ability to reach the flap handle without having to loosen or release shoulder harnesses. It is STCed for Cessna 170 through 185, Piper PA–18, PA–22, and PA–28 airplanes. This simple, safety-enhancing product carries a rather hefty $499 cost.
—Peter A. Bedell
Is your headset showing its age? Shelving it for a brand-new model is always a possibility, but there’s another option from Oregon Aero: You can get an upgrade. For less than the price of a new headset, the company installs a SoftTop headset cushion of sheepskin wool that is said to eliminate top-of-the-head pressure; SoftSeal ear cushions with SoftSkin covers that eliminate pressure on the ears and are said to be especially comfortable for people who wear glasses; a MicMuff microphone cover that eliminates ambient cockpit noise and noise from the radio or intercom; and (for passive headsets) a HushKit passive ear cup noise attenuation kit. The upgrade is available for more than 150 civilian and military headsets. If you find Oregon Aero at an airshow, the company will perform the upgrade right there; otherwise, you can ship your headset to Scappoose, Oregon, or order the components of the upgrade and do it yourself. Typical upgrade prices are $103 for a Lightspeed Zulu to $133 for a Flightcom Denali.
Price: Varies according to model
— Jill W. Tallman
Jeppesen offers a new instrument pilot ground school that meets the FAA requirement for 30 hours of groundschool training and stresses single-pilot resource management. It prepares you for the flight test as well as the knowledge test.
Kudos to Jeppesen for offering, right on the sign-in page, a link that automatically checks your computer to see if it can run the program. If not, it automatically assists in upgrading online to the software you’ll need to view the course. You’ll need XP/SP2, Vista, or Windows 7 on your PC, or Mac OS 10.5.4 on your Mac.
There are three versions of the course: one is for individuals, another is for Part 61 flight schools and universities, and the last is for Part 141 schools. All include ground school, flight lessons, and test preparation. Flight school versions include stage exams. The courses are a terrific guide to the instrument instructor giving the course.
Navigating around the course, such as trying to display a question you may have missed on one of the exams, takes a bit of digging at first. It’s not an easy course, but neither is the actual knowledge FAA test. Student progress is tracked through the online Jeppesen Learning Center.
Price: $259 for a one-year subscription; can be renewed for $39 per year
—Alton K. Marsh