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.
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.”
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.