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Holder keeps headset battery packs secure in airplaneHolder keeps headset battery packs secure in airplane

Teen's creation fits many popular headsetsTeen's creation fits many popular headsets

If you ever get tired of the battery pack for your noise-reduction headset dangling and banging into you, a California high school student has created a holder to solve that nuisance.

These headset battery pack holders in the AOPA Sweepstakes Super Cub make flying the airplane that much more enjoyable without the packs dangling against your arm. Photo by David Tulis.
Ryan O'Toole created aviation headset battery holders to enhance cockpit organization for pilots. Photo by Dave Hirschman.

Ryan O’Toole had flown in a Cirrus and floatplanes, but riding along on a cross-country flight from Wichita, Kansas, to Truckee, California, in a Cessna 206 that his father had just purchased opened a new passion for aviation to the then-15-year-old.

During the flight, O’Toole observed a common problem that most pilots face: headset cords that get caught, stepped on, and shut in the door or battery packs that fall and bang around inside the cockpit.

“My dad was frustrated by the lack of a holder and he looked online for one after we got back from our trip from Wichita,” O’Toole said. “When said he couldn't believe that there wasn't anything available, I offered to build them for him.”

Using his father’s 3-D printer, O’Toole created a holder for the headset battery pack and attached it with adhesive to the Cessna 206’s cockpit. His father loved it and shared the product with Mark Patey from Best Tugs, who reviewed the product in a social media video. Pilots started contacting O’Toole, asking him to make holders for them. When he could no longer keep up with demand by printing one holder at a time, O’Toole used his earnings to buy an industrial 3-D printer that allows him to complete 10 holders every 24 hours in his parents’ garage—while he’s at school, studying for SATs, taking flying lessons, or sleeping. Although the 3-D printing is relatively hands-off (it takes 30 minutes a day to clean and prepare the printer for the next batch), O’Toole said he spends time “managing the website, acknowledging the orders, packing, shipping, ordering supplies, etc.”

He prints 300 to 310 holders per month and supplies them to Sporty’s Pilot Shop, Aviat Husky, and CubCrafters. He has also filled bulk orders from Aero Air, the University of Tromsø in Norway, and a skydive operation in Australia. The holders fit external battery packs for the Bose A20, Bose X, Lightspeed Zulu/ Sierra, Lightspeed PFX, and David Clark DC Pro-X/DC ONE-X headsets, as well as the Pilot BluLink headset adapter. When O’Toole receives a new headset model, he spends about a week designing a holder to ensure a secure fit.

“It's been a great learning experience,” O’Toole said. “I really had no idea how hard it was to run a small business before doing this.”

Early in the process, O’Toole learned that the plastic he used to make the holders didn’t hold up well in high heat. So, he went back to the drawing board, talked to people at EAA AirVenture last summer, and switched to a more durable plastic that can withstand the hot temperatures inside cockpits during the summer.

The black holders, sold at $40 apiece, are becoming so popular that O’Toole said he “might have to get a second printer to keep up with demand.”

Currently, O’Toole is using the profits from his business to pay for flight training, and he said he plans to earn his private pilot certificate this year—he turns 17 in June. In addition to learning to fly, O’Toole said he’s developed an interest in aerospace engineering and business, two areas he plans to pursue degrees in at college. Looks like he’s already off to a pretty good start.

Alyssa J. Miller

Alyssa J. Cobb

AOPA Director of eMedia and Online Managing Editor
AOPA Director of eMedia and Online Managing Editor Alyssa J. Cobb has worked at AOPA since 2004 and is an active flight instructor.
Topics: Sweepstakes, Gear, Headsets

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