News

Flying Eyes Sunglasses

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I am on a mission in flying for my head to be as comfortable as possible.  I’m currently going through the process of experimenting with different ANR headsets to see which ones squeeze my head the least (which I’ll be writing a future article about).  In the meantime, I decided to focus on sunglasses.

I wear glasses (can’t do contacts anymore since they irritate my eyes), so anytime I have a headset on, I have frames running underneath my ear cups.  I had a pair of prescription sunglasses for years that were okay, but still caused soreness above my ears after more than 3 hours of flying.  I routinely fly 4-5 hours a day in training folks, so I had to find a better solution.

I saw an ad in Flying Magazine one month for Flying Eyes sunglasses.  It was a relatively new company with a cool concept.  A pilot started the company with the goal to create as thin a pair of sunglasses frames as possible to increase the comfort and decrease the ANR loss when wearing sunglasses.  What the company came up with is pretty cool.

The ultra-thin frames on the all the different Flying Eyes models are made out of Resilamide.  The material is so strong that the frames can be bent back and forth while not breaking.  The company even brags that the frames are virtually unbreakable.  I had to try these out.

I ordered a pair of the Golden Eagle Sport sunglasses.  The process of getting prescription lenses in them was no big deal and took about a week.  The eyeglasses shop initially thought the shape of the lens could be an issue, but it proved no problem at all.  The lens manufacturer even managed to chip the frames, but Flying Eyes sent a new set of frames for free, even though it was not at all their fault.

In about a month and a half of flying with them, they are very comfortable.  Some squeeze on the side of my head after extended periods of wear underneath a headset, but I’m exploring headset options currently (see above).  Much improved over my last set of sunglasses.

Flying Eyes offers several different frame models, some of which are prescription compatible and some which aren’t.  The Golden Eagle Sport frames run about $180.  Orders can be placed on the Flying Eyes website.

Cessna TTx Production Ceases

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Sadly, in January, a pretty great airplane was put out to pasture.  Textron (the conglomerate that now owns Cessna, Beechcraft, Hawker, and Lycoming) announced it was ceasing production of the Cessna TTx.  With the end of the Cessna TTx production, an airplane that was the main “competitor” to Cirrus (if you can call it competition; Cirrus consistently outsold the Cessna TTx by a wide margin each year), it leaves the SR series to stand alone atop the High Performance piston single market.

I got to go through Cessna’s FITS Accepted Instructor (CFAI) course back in 2012 and have flown in the Cessna 350 and 400 (which is what they were known as at the time; the Cessna TTx name came around in 2011) for about 120 hours.  I really like the airplanes.  I’m partial to the Cirrus, but the Cessna 350 & 400 are fast airplanes and great for 1-2 people.  I flew a 350 (the non-turbo charged version) from New York to San Antonio last fall and routinely saw 170 knots at 12 GPH.

Columbia started out making the 350 & 400 (the turbo-charged version) in the early 2000s, but went bankrupt in 2007.  Lancair started Columbia to make a certified version of their popular kit planes.  If you see a Lancair ES floating around, you would swear it’s a Columbia with only 1 door.  Cessna bought the design from Columbia in 2007 to begin manufacturing the airplanes themselves.

Cessna then made a huge mistake as they moved the production facility from Bend, Oregon to Mexico. Production completely halted in 2009 as the planes coming out of Mexico were found to have defective composite work.  The sales never really recovered, even though Cessna put the Garmin G2000 panel in the Cessna TTx, complete with a touchscreen key pad.  A FIKI system was added as an option in 2012.

A prospective buyer can still get a great value on a used 350, 400, or TTx, as they are valued a little lower than a Cirrus.  The 350, 400 or TTx all make excellent single pilot or two person speedsters with very comfortable amenities.

Information for this article was taken from Flying Magazine’s website.

PIREP: Austin Executive Opens a Control Tower

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Austin Executive Airport opened a control tower on Friday, February 23rd 2018.  The airport is now officially Class D airspace.  The charts and A/FD are not updated yet to reflect the tower, but there is a NOTAM with the tower and ground frequency information.  The tower hours are from 6am to 10pm.  The weather frequency remains the same.

Make sure you check those NOTAMs if you are headed to KEDC anytime soon!

KEDC Tower Frequency:  120.3

KEDC Ground:  119.45

Bruce’s Custom Covers

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I have used a few different sun shields in airplanes in my flying career.  I have found one that I really like. Bruce’s Custom Covers knocks it out of the park for usability and ease of storage.

Let’s start off with functionality.  Like other window sun shields, Bruce’s Custom Covers fit very nicely into the airplane glare shield and side windows. Depending on the type of airplane you have, some of the window covers use the suction cups and others don’t.  I recently had 2 customers order from Bruce’s, one that owns a P210 that uses the suction cups for all windows, including the glare shield, and the other owns a Cirrus which doesn’t use the suction cups on anything.

They work great.  They do the job of blocking the sun and keeping the cabin much cooler while the airplane is sitting on the ramp.

The thing I like best about Bruce’s Custom Covers is their storage.  Other sun shields require you to roll them up and lash a tie around them. Bruce’s, on the other hand, come folded very neatly in a black canvas bag.  The folded covers don’t take up nearly as much room as the rolled up covers, plus they are really easy to just fold up and store.

Bruce’s Custom Covers also sells plugs for cowling, pitot tubes, etc., as well as aircraft exterior covers.

Bruce’s Custom Covers gets my recommendation for anyone wanting to get some new sun shields.  For those of you in Texas, you know you need them!

Lightspeed Headsets and Modern Audio Panels

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I love Lightspeed headsets.  They are very comfortable, durable, and reasonably priced.  Plus, when you call Customer Service, you are actually talking to someone who works for the company and knows what they are talking about.

One thing to watch out for with Lightspeed headsets is the Mono vs. Stereo option.  On the Zulu 3, there is a very small control panel underneath the battery compartment to change from Mono to Stereo.  If you have any kind of modern audio panel, you will definitely want to do this.  Here’s why.

I was flying in a Cirrus SR22 G5 last fall with a Garmin 350 Audio Panel.  Everything worked fine talking to the ground and tower controllers.  Once I took off and was switched to approach, everything went quiet.  I could hear the approach controller, but couldn’t transmit.  I thought my headset had bit the dust. There was another set in the plane that I switched to, but I thought the transmit function of mine was out.

I sent the headset back to Lightspeed for repair.  The headset was still under their 5 year warranty, which is really nice!  I got it back a few days later, plugged it in to another Cirrus, and still had nothing.  I was getting frustrated, but then a light went on.  One of my colleagues had mentioned something about mono and stereo in the Lightspeed.  I popped the batteries out, flipped the switch over to stereo, and wa-la!  Everything was fully operational.

If you get Lightspeed headsets, you’ll want to make sure it is set on Stereo, as they all come from the factory on Mono.  If you get a PFX, there is an easy access button on the side of the battery unit to switch from Mono to Stereo.