August 20, 2008

Trip to Advanced Flight Systems - 0.0 hrs.

I'm very fortunate to live here in the northwest. Not only is Van's Aircraft a short drive from my home, but also one of the aviation industrys finest instrument makers. I'm talking about Advanced Flight Systems in Canby, Oregon. I count it my good fortune to also know Rob & Jenny Hickman, the proprietors, and some of the staff. They're good people. Their products are top-notch. So it should be no surprise that I'm leaning very strongly toward putting some of their products in my instrument panel. And once again, my friend and technical counselor, Randy Lervold, has led the way and given me some excellent advice. He has an Advance Flight Systems EFIS in the instrument panel of his new RV-3, and he swears by it.

One product is going in mine, for sure. The Angle of Attack indicator. I'll decide on the rest of the instrument panel later, but for now, I know I want the AOA system, and now's the time to get the sensors for the AOA indicator installed in my wing while it's still open, before the bottom skins are riveted on. You can do it later, but it's so much easier now. In case you don't know about the angle of attack instrument, you should read up on it. It's the same simple instrument Navy pilots have used for years to make precision landings on aircraft carrier decks at sea, where the runway is very short, the margin of error is very small, and the landing speed is quite high. If you read the book Stick & Rudder, you know that it's all about angle of attack. I won't even try to explain it all here. Check it out on the Advanced Flight Systems website, get some literature, and read up on it. It gives you a huge safety factor that I won't be without. This incredible instrument is now available to homebuilders at an affordable price. So I'm putting one in my airplane.

Another nice thing is, you don't have to buy the whole instrument package all at once. I'm not sure yet if I'll be using this as a stand-alone instrument with the indicator mounted in the panel, or if I will incorporate it as part of the EFIS, where the indicator shows up on the main screen of the EFIS. There are also two different models of the stand-alone to choose from. Fortunately, I don't have to decide any of that right now. I just bought the "A" kit, which includes the sensors and parts that go in the wing, and the instruction manual. So I can install these parts now while I'm building my wing, and make the instrument panel decisions later. The amount of money I paid for this "A" kit is applied later toward the price of the rest of the system, whichever way I decide to go. It just makes good sense.

Here are all the goodies that come with the "A" kit. It comes with sensors for the top and bottom wing skins, installation hardware, tubing to plumb through the wing, and the instruction manual. Even the decals that will later be applied to the top of the wing to identify the small port are in here. Also included is the smallest drill bit I've ever seen. It's a #60. That's the size of the holes in the sensor ports!

I spent the rest of the evening studying the manual and reading everything I could get my hands on about this system. I'll be anxious to get started on the installation very soon.

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