Aerospoiler System Foils Storm Damage

Tim Tuinder knows about hurricanes. He and his wife, Sharon, run a missionary air service, Harvest Air, out of Puerto Rico, supporting orphanages in the Caribbean, and he’s seen his share of wind-damaged airplanes.

To keep the wind from disappointing the people who depend on the Tuinders and their airplane, they designed a system of wind spoilers called the Aerospoiler system, which provides protection for aircraft that cannot be hangared. The system consists of several commercial-grade suction cups that are operated by a lever on the assembly housing. Each spoiler blade slips neatly into receivers on the suction cups and destroys 96% of the lift generated by the wing. The Aerospoiler system comes in its own compact, high-grade lightweight plastic casing and can easily be carried in most baggage compartments. It retails for $379, which doesn't seem like much after your first windstorm passes and your airplane is intact.

LightSPEED Aviation Announces Improvements to Zulu ANR Headset

A lot of buzz has surrounded LightSPEED Aviation's newest ANR headset, the Zulu, introduced at AirVenture 2007, with the first sets shipping in September 2007. Featuring Bluetooth connectivity between the headset and your cellphone, MP3 player or other compatible devices, LightSPEED has integrated current (and convenient) technology with the headset's aviation-specific features. It's drawn a natural comparison with Bose's Headset X; however, at $850, it's priced at about $150 less than the Bose.

We caught up with Allan Schrader, president of LightSPEED Aviation, at the LightSPEED booth (Hangar D) to talk about the headset's review featured in the April 2008 issue of sister publication Aviation Consumer. He told us the headsets that were reviewed were produced about 2000 sets prior to the headsets that are currently available. Schrader adds that two of the issues—music muting and noise gating—identified in that review had been brought to LightSPEED's attention in advance of the review, and were corrected in February.

Music muting is the process that brings the volume of the music down when there's an overriding signal such as an ATC call or in-cockpit conversation. Testers had observed that when the voice signal was weak, it would not mute the music sufficiently (for instance, if you're monitoring ATIS 30 miles out). The threshold was lowered to eliminate that issue; the music is now muted about 80%, so low you'd hardly notice it. After the voice signal has stopped, the Zulu will bring the music back up over 5 seconds. Schrader added that this feature is selectable so that a backseat passenger can rock out to Chris Daughtry's latest without the continual interruption from ATC.

Noise gating was added to the headset to mitigate the hiss produced by noisy intercoms, "basically a squelch for audio," explains Schrader. "Noise gating disconnects the audio plug from the intercom until such time as there's a signal on the audio line," such as an in-cockpit conversation or an ATC call. Again, the audio threshold was lowered to prevent a conflict between a weak signal and the headset's noise-gating capability. You can read Schrader's complete response to the April review in the May issue of Aviation Consumer, which will be available within a few weeks.

For more information, visit LightSPEED Aviation.

First Corvair-Powered 701 at Sun 'n Fun! Well... Almost

A funny thing happened on the way to Sun 'n Fun this year. Pilot Gus Warren and the first Corvair-powered Zenith CH 701 were eagerly anticipated to publicly debut early this week, and sure enough, there was Gus walking around the flight line on Wednesday. The 701? Well, Gus tells it best...

"We were just cruising along, everything normal, and I started hearing this occasional noise like someone flicking the cylinder fins with a fingernail. Every now and then, tink, tink, tink. After 20 seconds or so, it became constant, and I had a 300-rpm power loss. So I decided to find a place to land. Funny thing was that even with the power loss, the Corvair continued to run smooth. The EGTs stayed normal, but I did notice a slight CHT rise," says Gus.

Land he did, in a small cow pasture that was conveniently located right under the 701. If there's any question about the short approach and landing capability of the 701 on unimproved surfaces, this episode should erase any doubts. The pilot and aircraft rolled out smoothly and taxied to the fence under partial power and the watchful gaze of a few witnesses. Reportedly, all any of them had to say about the forced landing was "Moo."

After a few phone calls, a flatbed trailer arrived and the 701's wings were quickly removed for the ride back to the hangar in Edgewater. I asked Gus what he thought the cause might be, and he gave it some thought. "At this point, I really don't have any idea. It felt like extreme detonation, but just on one cylinder. I really didn't have the time to look into it when we got the 701 back to the hangar, 'cause I needed to get back here. But I'll get right on it when I get back to Edgewater," he said. "I'm pretty curious myself."

Nobody looks forward to a forced landing in a new (or even old) airplane, but sometimes an event such as this reminds us that it's good to always be ready for the unexpected where any kind of aviation is concerned.

Good job, Gus!

A New Spin on Plane Power

While this M-Squared ultralight may not look like a Mazda RX-8 sports car, its powerplant does share the same rotary-engine technology, with a single-rotor mill that made five big guys strain to hold it back during a runup test in Paradise City. So power, apparently, isn't lacking.

Better still, M-Squared boss Paul Mather (second from left) tells us he's shooting for an engine-and-all price for this machine in the $15,000 range.

For more information, visit M-Squared.

Cub Reporter Mandy Wainfan on Sun 'n Fun

Imagine seeing an airshow from the eyes of a nine-year old.

Mandy Wainfan has been taking photos for, oh, 4 months now and has been tromping around Sun 'n Fun shooting whatever pictures her battery life will support.

"I've been on a DC-3 before. My mother was the pilot and I thought it was really cool to hear about it so I took this picture," she reports.

Mandy wasn't alive when this plane was built, but she wasn't alive when she flew on a DC-3 either. Mandy, my daughter, was in my tummy when she first flew on a DC-3. I was taking an hour of dual instruction, a present from my husband, Barnaby.

And while most pilots and photographers are focused on the aluminum, it sometimes takes a fourth-grader to notice the flowers where the adults see the mud.

If you're at Sun 'n Fun, watch out; your picture might be taken by KITPLANES' youngest "Cub" reporter.

Posted for Lynne Wainfan from Sun 'n Fun, on glorious Friday morning.