It's been said that "bigger is better," but where panel functionality is concerned, it just ain't always the case. MGL Avionics has recently earned a solid niche among a plethora of glass panel manufacturers for building solid products that deliver the goods at very attractive prices. To add to the company's lineup, welcome the Voyager, a scaled-down version of the top-line Odyssey, fitting neatly in places where 10.4-inch-diagonal big brother was just too big to go.
The Voyager only gives up one thing when compared to the Odyssey, which is 2 inches of diagonal screen size. But all other functions remain the same, including nine pages of user-configurable screens that can be programmed for so many more functions than can be covered here. GPS, AHRS, terrain mapping, engine monitoring, fuel flow, flight data recording, airborne traffic, autopilot interface and even remote radio operation are just some of its features.
What the Voyager gives up, when compared to the really high-end systems that can cost from 10 to 15 times more, is the razor-sharp graphics and high data sampling and screen refresh rates that you might expect in multi-million dollar aircraft. The Voyager updates its screen 10 times per second, its graphics are perfectly legible, and it's affordable for the average homebuilder. MGL estimates that a full Voyager or Odyssey system, including probes, will run around $5600 USD for a four cylinder Lycoming or Continental installation, add a couple hundred bucks more for six cylinders.
Rounding out the MGL product line on display at AirVenture were the prototype nav and com radios, Mode S transponder, and autopilot, allowing for a complete MGL brand panel in the near future. Prices and release dates of these products are said to be coming soon.
Sure, just uttering the word "Oshkosh" among a bunch of pilots brings expressions of contemplative bliss to most of their faces. I'm no different, I've made the annual pilgrimage over 20 times myself. Yeah, the aircraft and aviation products are a huge draw, but I always get a smile on my face when near a certain out of the way corner between the exhibition hangars and a long line of Porta-Potties. You just can't help but get a little spring in your step when passing by, because there's no avoiding the constant serenade from Jerry Sleger, of Jerry's One Man Band.
Part accordion virtuoso, part garage sale, and flavored with a bunch of Rube Goldberg, Sleger has been occupying his spot at AirVenture for the last 22 years. And for those of us who sometimes feel that this world is moving way too fast for us to keep up, one steadfast constant is Jerry Sleger, who tirelessly dispenses toe-tapping polkas and waltzes year after year. After year. And I'll even admit it's not just the music - I'm a sucker for the mechanical monkey and hula-girl who keep time to Sleger's offerings.
OK, Sleger has made some concessions to modern technology. Since 2002, he's been offering CDs as well as cassette tapes of his music, if you're so inclined. But for a measly fin, you can still get a cassette. A CD will set you back four bucks more. In an environment where expensive aviation goodies and expensiver airplanes abound, Sleger's music is an absolute steal (although some would argue that accordions are incapable of producing 'music' at all).
Whatever. I just bought all three CDs, and I fully intend to share them (quite liberally) with my friends while were driving the rental back to the airport in Chicago (they can thank me later). But I'm already looking forward to our next AirVenture visit next year, and not just because of all the neat airplane stuff. There's a little musical oasis here, as constant as the sun, where one can sit on a bench in the shade and experience a simpler time. And it won't cost you a dime.
LoPresti Aviation has announced the winner of the first annual Roy Lopresti memorial "Innovation in Aviation Award" to DeltaHawk Engines for their development and refinement of heavy-fuel piston engines over the last 12 years. The late Roy LoPresti made significant aerodynamic improvements to light aircraft during his career, including the Grumman American line of singles and twins, the Mooney 200 and 300 series, the LoPresti (Swift) Fury, and even contributed to the Lunar Lander. His life's work of developing refinements for GA aircraft continues to this day by LoPresti Aviation.
The much anticipated DeltaHawk engine line is a liquid-cooled, inverted V4 design that burns Jet A and develops between 160 and 200 horsepower. Dry weight is claimed to be 330 pounds. According to Doers, DeltaHawk engines will be undergoing the FAA certification process shortly, and will only be offered for sale to the public once the engine installation infrastructure is fully in place to insure that finished installations are properly performed.
Doers accepted the award during a press conference held at AirVenture. LoPresti Aviation COO R.J. Seigel said of DeltaHawk "This small company has worked tirelessly for 12 years to bring a great design to market. The persistance and creativity of this company is something of which Roy would have approved."
Having just spent a couple days replacing traditional cowling nutplates before coming to the show, I was intimately familiar with laying out the rivet holes for each one, drilling two different hole sizes, deburring, dimpling, and flush-riveting.
Then I heard there was a better way. With the ClickBond system, there's only one hole to drill, some two-part glue to mix up, and the "installation fixture" to hold everything tight until the adhesive fully cures. Time savings? About 80 percent.
Frankly, the "installation fixture" just cracked me up. It looks for all the world like a rubber worm that you might find in the bottom of your tackle box, only with some precise tapers to it. It's simplicity itself to run it through the hole to hold the fastener tight, and then pulls right out with good tug after the glue sets up. The adhesive comes in two flavors, the $12 variety that sets up in under an hour, and the $20 high-strength stuff that takes 24 hours to cure. Each one is enough for about 50 fasteners.
If you screw one up and want to remove it after the glue has cured, it can be done with the application of some heat from a heat gun to about 350F degrees and the fastener will peel off. If you have a composite structure, however, some care is required to avoid overheating what's underneath.
Currently in use by the military and commercial aircraft builders, the ClickBond system is gaining significant ground among homebuilders. Of course, it won't replace traditional fasteners in structural applications, but they're perfect for, say, installing cowling or fairing fasteners. "Sure, they're more expensive," says ClickBond's Tim Anderson. "They run from a buck and a half to two bucks each. But they really save time. What's worth more, your time or your money?"
It's not often that I see a product that just stops me in my tracks, but upon entering Hangar B, I was like a deer caught in the headlights (literally). The AveoFlash LED lighting system from AveoEngineering shows just what can be done when high-intensity LEDs meet seasoned engineers who are given free rein to design "what pilots really want," according to John Rossall of BAE Systems (that's right, as in British Aerospace). The resulting AveoFlash line of airframe lighting leaves absolutely no doubt that Edison's single-filament incandescent lamp, as good as it is, has finally seen better days.
The AveoEngineering booth was hard to miss, with the multiple high-intensity strobe bursts lighting up the entire row of vendors. Among the products on display was a combination wingtip position and strobe unit that was happily flashing away on a single, 9-volt transistor radio battery. This elegant unit is sealed in high-impact clear acrylic, contains everything including the strobe power supply, and directly replaces the traditional position/strobe assembly found on most wingtips. Gone are the separate strobe power supplies, delicate flash tubes and glass lenses, and high current drains. A pair of AveoFlash units draws only 250 milliamps, a small fraction of the power needed for traditional position and strobe lighting.
Available now for Experimentals, a red and green pair will set you back $600, will easily outlast the airframe, and may well be the only external airframe lighting units required when properly aligned on each wingtip. Each unit also contains rear-facing white LEDs, in addition to the side and rear strobes, and the front and side facing colored position lighting. There are only four wires to connect: ground, strobe power, nav power and a single blue wire that provides a sync pulse to any other Aveo strobes in use. Already certified in Europe, AveoEngineering anticipates U.S. STC approval in September of 2008.
For more information, visit AveoEngineering.
Fitting neatly between the two-seat CH 701 and four-seat CH 801, Zenith Aircraft is introducing the new CH 750 to the world at this year's AirVenture convention. Available in either kit form from Zenith Aircraft ($19,500) or air-ready and VFR equipped from AMD ($99,900), this spacious two-seater retains its LSA compliance while delivering impressive STOL performance typical of the other Zenith models.
When powered with the Continental O-200, the 750 takes off in just 100 feet, lands in 125, cruises at 100 mph, and stalls at 38 mph. Useful load is 545 pounds.
"We went with the Continental engine," says Zenith President Sebastien Heintz, "because now you can get a new, experimental O-200 for less than a Rotax 912. But since the firewall is the same as the one on the 601, you can pretty much use whatever engine you want, including the Jabiru or the Corvair."
"We're just offering the one 'standard' kit at this point," Heintz continued. "Since all the parts are CNC punched and pre-formed, there's really not a need for a 'quickbuild' version. With the blind rivets, you can build a wing in two days. We're just starting the manufacture of the wing kits now, and with our standard lead times, figure you'll have a full kit by the end of October if you order a kit today."
For larger pilots (like me) who find the 701 just too confining, the new 750 has all the earmarks of retaining the 701's impressive STOL performance and style while retaining the ability to fit neatly into Light Sport requirements. If the crowds around the airplane is any indication of its future success, it appears that Zenith may have just come up with another winner. More information coming soon at Zenith Aircraft.