…A Small Sample


    • If flying brings a song to your heart… Just when you thought every sort of electronic option for an aircraft had been created, PS Engineering has taken in-flight entertainment to new highs (or lows). The company, which makes audio-control systems that provide single-panel access for nav, com, stereo and even DVD systems is singing the praises of the karaoke function it’s added to its latest offering, the PMA 8000. For about $1,700, you and your passengers can croon the flight away. Just please make sure the mic isn’t keyed. Click through for a look at the others — some may be more creative, some may be more useful. You decide.
    • MPG Display For Homebuilts… The experimental market can sometimes be the birthplace of truly useful devices that find their way into certified airplanes and this might be one of them. Porcine Associates (the owner’s name is James Ham; the name was his ex-wife’s idea) has come up with a tiny LED readout that eliminates the mental gymnastics that go along with squeezing the most out of each gallon of increasingly pricey gas. Ham’s device couples the plane’s existing fuel-flow meter to a GPS to give a constant readout of miles per gallon. It will also do nautical miles per gallon and liters per 100 kilometers.
    • Trim And More In Palm Of Your Hand… If you want your stick to work harder, The Ray Allen Company might have the answer. The company, which makes electric trim setups for experimental aircraft, offers stick grips that contain the trim control, a push-to-talk finger button and up to four other switches to control other functions. It’s only for homebuilts.
    • Be Proud Of That Ticket… Ask any pilot for his or her biggest accomplishment, and chances are they’ll say that getting their pilot’s certificate is numero uno. So why does it stay stuffed in a wallet where no one can see it? George McCuiston believes that coveted piece of paper belongs up on the wall with your diplomas, doctorates and other honors. He’ll copy your certificate onto a metal plate with an attractive wood mount for $60 to $100. He has no Web site but his toll-free number is 888-994-7152.
    • Wind Power For Airplanes… With all the electronics we pile in our airplanes these days, losing the alternator is not only a big pain, it can be downright dangerous. Enter the Basic Aircraft Products stand-by alternator. In certified aircraft (STC’d for the Cessna 182, 206, and 210, Mooney, Bonanza and PA-32) the wind-powered alternator pops out from the side or belly and takes over until you’re on the ground. The unit costs about $2,000 (installation requires cutting the skin and putting in a manual control) and will provide up to 18 amps at 14 volts and 150 knots. The company also makes add-on wind-powered alternators for aircraft without electrical systems.
    • Wind Info Added To Air Data Computer… The tiny size of the TAS 100 from Insight Instrument Corp. belies a huge array of air data computer functions, including the “Windicator” that’s calculates all the various wind components in flight. Everything from the air temperature to altitude alerts are available at the twist of a knob. It’s STC’d for the Bonanza but can also be installed via a field approval. Cost is $3,500.
    • Just For RV Builders… This U.S. Airtool Company offering gives you some idea of how popular the Van’s RV kits are. The company has put together a toolkit with the major items you’ll need to put your RV together. There are 518 pieces altogether but more than 400 of them are clecos. You get a riveter, drill, squeezers and bucking bars, to mention a few items, and the show price was $685.
    • Collision Avoidance For Under $1,000?… That’s the promise from SureCheck Aviation. The TrafficScope picks up the signal from any transponder-equipped aircraft and turns it into an LED readout of the traffic situation around you. It tells you the distance and altitude from each “threat” and throws in an altitude alert to help you make sure you don’t become one of those “threats.” It’s $985 but only for experimentals. A company spokesman said the comparable certified gear is more than $7,000.
    • Tiny Electric Mini-Bike… The biggest problem with light aircraft travel can be ground transportation at the destination. A-Z Surplus (no Web site: phone 612-473-3871) has solved that problem for some with possibly the smallest collapsing motorcycle on the market. The company imported 432 of the tiny rechargeable electric mini-bikes and sold them ($399) in two months. The bike goes 20 miles on a charge and has a top speed of about 15 mph, but the factory may have designed it for the Chinese market rather than the ever expanding (girth-wise) U.S. norm because the maximum weight is listed at 175 pounds. You have some time to get under the limit if you want to, however. The next shipment of bikes is expected to take most of a year to arrive.
    • Prop Job Made Easy… Just in case you ever feel the need to make your own wooden propeller, or, more likely, start making them for others, the Gemini Propeller Duplicator could be just what you’re looking for. A router attaches to one side of the setup and a guide on the other precisely tells the cutting head where to cut and how much. Cost is $3,680 to $4,850 depending on the size of props you want to make.