Like many of you, I got my start in aviation with RC model aviation.

I was flying model airplanes before I bought my Piper Colt in 1972 (at 22) and during those periods when there was no aircraft in the stable, I filled the void with RC. So, when the drone thing came along, I had to have one. Frankly, I got bored quickly so when the government said I needed to register my drone, I said, “Forget about it!” and I did. Frankly, as a pilot and a model flyer I was concerned about drones and still am. They can do amazing things in the hands of the right person; they can be dangerous in the wrong hands. As GA pilots, we know uAvionix as the company that created the most affordable ADS-B Out solution. The skyBeacon and tailBeacon changed the discussion. Five years ago, pilots expected to spend $5,000 or more to meet the mandate. UAvionix showed them how to do it for half that! I do not have the numbers, but I suspect a significant portion of the legacy aircraft fleet has a uAvionix product on their wingtip or tail. You may have noticed that the first three letters in uAvionix are “UAV” as in unmanned aerial vehicle. That’s because the folks at uAvionix are really into drones and, as a worldwide leader in miniature electronics for drones, have brought that technology to GA — and they appear to be just getting started. You can expect to see more safety enhancing equipment targeted to the general aviation pilot flying a legacy aircraft. In other words — effective and affordable!

The problem: vacuum pumps and mechanical vacuum gyros

As early as 2000, the FAA knew that critical vacuum instruments could be a problem when they, or the vacuum pump, failed in IFR conditions. It was many years before they allowed aircraft owners with factory installed, vacuum driven mechanical gyros to even consider alternatives. That is behind us. The first alternative was to replace the vacuum AI with an electrically driven mechanical model with internal battery backup. These were more reliable. Mid-Continent Instruments called theirs the Lifesaver and it was $4,500 with battery. In the last 3 years, with the FAA’s stamp of approval, came the EFIS alternatives which do more, offer battery backup, and can cost a lot less. We just visited the Garmin GI-275 last month. Let’s talk about the uAvionix solutions: the AV-30-C primary EFIS and the AV-20-S backup EFIS.

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