2018 Great American Lancair Rally


A brand-new event for Lancair owners, the 2018 Great American Lancair Rally will be a multi-stage “grand tour” of the Western US.  Starting and ending in Central Texas, the Rally will take place September 24th through October 5th 2018.

The Rally will begin in Uvalde, TX (KUVA) on September 24th at the Lancair headquarters.  There will be 6 legs, with stops at:

  • Sedona, Arizona (KSEZ)
  • Paso Robles, California (KPRB)
  • Redmond, Oregon (KRDM)
  • Spanish Fork, Utah (KSPK)
  • Taos, New Mexico (KSKX)
  • San Marcos, TX (KHYI)

At each stop, there will be food, drinks, and fun for everyone.

Lancair plans on making instructors available to pilots who would like any kind of training along the way.  Hank Gibson from Texas Top Aviation will be one of the instructors available.

Lancair plan to make the Great American Lancair Rally an annual event, with the 2019 Rally spanning the eastern half of the country.

The Great American Lancair Rally is open to all Lancair owners, potential owners and interested aviators. Fly a different airplane?  All makes and models are welcome!

For more information & to register, check out the 2018 Great American Lancair Rally’s website.


The Importance of Density Altitude


Density Altitude:  Pressure Altitude corrected for non-standard temperature.

That’s the book definition of density altitude.  The problem is, that definition leaves a lot of general aviation pilots scratching their heads.  What really is density altitude?

All airplane engines rely on air and fuel mixing together, then that mixture is ignited to create combustion. Normally aspirated piston engine airplanes get their best performance at sea level, where the air is nice and thick, allowing plenty of air molecules to get sucked in the engine intake.  As a normally-aspirated airplane climbs, the ambient air pressure drops with an increase in altitude (the air gets thinner, less dense), thereby reducing airplane takeoff, climb, and landing performance.  There just isn’t as much air at higher altitudes, to put it simply.

Turbo charged piston engines assist with this air density problem.  A turbo charger boosts the air coming into the engine and fools the engine into thinking it is at sea level pressure all the time.  The higher the altitude, the faster the turbo charger spins, spinning the compressor faster, which compresses more air to continue to give the engine sea level pressure air.  This gets faster cruise speeds the higher you go.

Both normally aspirated & turbo charged engines do experience longer takeoff rolls and reduced climb rates at higher airport elevations & higher altitudes.

How does this all relate to density altitude?

When the outside air temperature rises, the air becomes thinner, less dense.  This means that when an airport elevation is 1,000 feet, but the density altitude is reported as 3,000 feet, the airplane engine thinks it is at 3,000 feet.  It won’t accelerate as fast.  The airplane’s climb rate will also be reduced.  That means that the normal climb pitch attitude a pilot is used to seeing won’t be accurate at higher density altitudes. It will lead to slower indicated airspeeds, slow enough to potentially lead to a stall if a pilot isn’t paying attention.

Where does this get dangerous?  High elevation airports.  Whenever the OAT creeps above 85 or 90 at an airport that is higher elevation (I would classify higher elevation as 2,500 feet or higher), the corresponding density altitude sky rockets.  If a pilot isn’t paying attention to airspeed or angle of attack (if the airplane is equipped with an AOA), a stall can come very quickly on climb out.

What to take home from this?  Monitor your climb speed and angle of attack, especially right after takeoff, when you hear density altitude on the ATIS or AWOS.

Building An Airplane


Randy Vanstory, a long-time customer of Texas Top Aviation, decided in early 2017 to build his own airplane. Randy currently owns a Mooney M20J and has been active in aviation for a number of years.  He took on the Vans RV 10, starting in February 2017.  He’s about halfway through right now, with an estimated completion of mid-2020.

A completed Vans RV 10

I asked Randy what gave him the desire to build his own plane.  “I love building things, learning new things, and working on things” he said.  “This satisfies those desires all in one project.”  Randy had a desire to work with his hands, to create something of his own, and building an airplane put several of his passions together in one project.

Lots of pilots out there dream of building their own airplane in their garage.  There is a certain cool factor to putting together an RV or a Lancair in a garage, then trucking it out to an airport, attaching the wings, then flying a personal creation for the first time.  An airplane unique to you, since there isn’t one quite like it any where else.

That’s the beauty of a homebuilt.

Here is a link to Randy’s build video done by Kobalt Tools.

BendixKing Throws It’s Hat in the Glass Panel Ring


Two pilots walk into an FBO.  “Nice airplane,” Pilot 1 says to Pilot 2.  “What kind of panel do you have in it?”

“I just went all glass,” Pilot 2 says.  “Put in the Garmin G500 TXi, a GTN 750, and upgraded to the GFC 600 Autopilot.  Even put in the Mid-Continent standby instruments.  It’s a pretty sweet set up.  What about you?”

“Wow, sounds like it!” Pilot 1 responds.  “I went a different route.  I liked all my old BendixKing instruments, so I stuck with the company.  I put in a BendixKing AeroVue Touch panel, a BendixKing KSN 770 touch screen GPS, kept my KFC 225 autopilot, got the ADS-B out compliant BendixKing KT 74 transponder, and finished it off with a King AeroFlight KI 300 Digital Backup instrument.”

Wait, what?  BendixKing?

Yes, my friends, BendixKing is still around.

We are all used to the latest and greatest Garmin products these days.  Don’t get me wrong, Garmin and Aspen make great retro-fit products for your instrument panel, while Garmin and Avidyne are at the top of the touch-screen GPS market, but don’t forget about BendixKing.  They are staying in the game too.

BendixKing announced in April the xVue Touch for experimental aircraft, with the STC for the AeroVue Touch for certified aircraft coming later this summer.  The xVue and AeroVue touch are pretty nifty units, comparable in features to what Garmin is doing with the G500 TXi and G600 TXi.  It will be difficult to claw back into a competitive market share with Garmin, but BendixKing might find a niche market of followers.

Let’s take a look at the unit.

BendixKing AeroVue Touch

Now, I have not used the BendixKing AeroVue Touch or the xVue Touch, only read about them.  But, what I’ve read sounds pretty cool.  The display has really good resolution (BendixKing brags it is the highest screen resolution available), synthetic vision that comes standard (Garmin & Aspen charge extra for synthetic vision), plus VFR Sectional Charts & IFR High and Low Enroute charts, making paper charts even more obsolete.

The display is 10.1 inches and can be easily swapped between a full screen instrument mode or a split screen setup as seen above.  Apparently, BendixKing has 3-D moving maps available on the AeroVue Touch too, which is standard.

The one thing Garmin has on the BendixKing AeroVue Touch right now is engine information.  The G500TXi has a full complement of engine gauges available; the AeroVue Touch doesn’t, yet.  BendixKing says it’s in the works, as well as radio information and autopilot control.  I’m assuming the future autopilot control software would mean you could remotely mount an autopilot controller and input all functions from the AeroVue Touch display.  The nice thing about these future upgrades is all the software updates are free through BendixKing.

The sticker price for the forthcoming unit is going to be about $12,600.  Garmin’s 10.5 inch G500 TXi is $16,000, while Aspen doesn’t offer anything quite that big.

BendixKing KSN 770

I’ve been keeping my eye on the BendixKing KSN 770 Touchscreen WAAS GPS for a few years now.  It never really has caught on quite like the Garmin GTN 750 or the Avidyne IFD 540.  BendixKing took the same route that Avidyne did in creating a hybrid touch GPS (or mini-MFD if you want to look at it that way) where a pilot can perform functions either using the touch screen or utilizing soft keys on the edges.  I like the hybrid touch approach as I have been bounced around in turbulence while trying to tap something into a Garmin GTN 750 and it can prove difficult.

Similar to the AeroVue Touch, BendixKing utilized split screen technology in the KSN 770.  It’s a full WAAS unit that is already certified.  It’s sticker price is $14,200, compared to the Garmin GTN 750 at $17,200 and the Avidyne IFD 540 at $15,000.

Other BendixKing Gadgets

Here are some other BendixKing Gadgets both available now and in the works:

Is The Approach Active? Flying Garmin Instrument Approaches Seminar


Hank Gibson from Texas Top Aviation will be presenting a seminar on flying Garmin instrument approaches with the different Garmin GPS units.  Whether you have a Garmin 530/430 unit, a Garmin GTN 750/650 unit, or a Garmin G1000, all will be discussed.  You’ll walk away with some tips and tricks, plus a better understanding of your Garmin unit.

WINGs credit will be given for attending.  The seminar is hosted by Redbird Skyport at the San Marcos Airport (KHYI) in Redbird’s large conference room.  The seminar will begin at 10am on Saturday, June 30th, 2018.

It’s always quicker to fly than drive and Redbird has plenty of ramp space to accommodate seminar attendees.

Registration is required.  Please visit the registration page on  Space is limited to 20 individuals, so please make sure you register if you want to attend.