Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Headset Redux

Haven't seen a pirep on this headset so I thought I'd chime in, just in case anyone else is considering the $895 DC One-X headset with bluetooth, which is David Clark's answer to the Bose A-20 and Lightspeed Zulu3. This is the first time in about 25 years I bought a David Clark headset, and I think it's my new favorite. When I started flying David Clark's were the bees knees, a defacto standard. Everyone had them. They were the king of the crop. 
When active noise canceling came along David Clark fell off the chart. Back then I bought one of the firsts, a light speed 30-3G... that huge heavy blue one. It wasn't more comfortable to wear than the DC's but of course noise canceling is a game changer. The DC's went to the passenger seat and I never touched a set again until now. David Clark was slow to adapt to the noise canceling revolution and eventually got lapped by Bose and Lightspeed. The BoseX came out and also the Lightspeed Zulu and I bought both. Between those two I preferred the Zulu because it just felt more substantial and the BoseX cups didn't quite fit over my ears. Over time Bose and Lightspeed evolved their offerings and I bought the Zulu 2/3 and then settled in with Bose A-20's as my go-to. The A-20's are spendy but a great headset. I also tried the in-ear headsets like the QT halo but I decided I just don't like sticking things in my ears. 
Yesterday I tried out the One-X on nearly 2 hours of flying and I really like it. It's lighter and more comfy on the ears and on the head. It folds up nice and super duper small. I'd say the the noise canceling is just a tad not as good/strong as the A20's, but it's lighter and more comfy and the audio sound quality is better. It's very light on head with no measurable pressure on the crown of your head. The auto-shutoff feature works better which should save some batteries. The audio controls are digital and precise, and can be turned up much louder than the Bose. Also something about the classic green of the DC's goes well with my vintage Twin Bonanza. I think I'll get another set for the flight bag because they fold up so small and light. Overall I think they're great. If I had to stack rank my headsets in order of preference, I'd say at the moment it's DC One-X, Bose A-20, Lightspeed Zulu 3.

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Aspen Fixed

Update: my max is replaced. Hopefully will have better luck with the new one. My avionics guy says they are very reliable, they are a good company to work with and in his opinion they don't fail any more often than Garmin.  Well my last one was certainly reliable, it went 7 years with no issues.  I do like the unit, the max is easier on the eyes for sure, and smoother.  I asked about the failure mode and he said he wasn't sure but when he described it to Aspen they seemed to know exactly what he was talking about. I wonder if I got one of the old Max units maybe with the old software? Anyways fingers crossed.

Monday, November 29, 2021

Aspen fail

 Unfortunately my brand new Aspen Max failed with less than 10 hours on it. The failure mode was concerning too, the unit just powered itself down to a black screen. After a minute or so, it booted itself up again, aligned itself, then shut itself down again. It did this a few times and eventually just gave up to a dead black screen. If it's a power issue, it should give a warning and run on the battery. If it's like an ADC failure or pitot etc, it should red X the affected items. This thing is a lot of functions in one box and for it to just suddenly decide to shut itself down to a black screen of death without warning is unacceptable in my opinion. It's also making me totally rethink my panel strategy, at a minimum I now want another backup HSI. We've had a ton of very widespread fog lately which often means the only way down is a low approach. Without my Aspen I have no CDI.

Also ATC reported they lost my mode C, presumably the Aspen is providing altitude info to the GTX-345 transponder.  Since I'm under the modeC (and ADSB) veil, I am basically AOG (aircraft on ground / grounded).  I'll probably change that to a Garmin blind encoder.  Fortunately Aspen was responsive to my avionics shop and sent a replacement, so hopefully will get this resolved soon.  In the mean time I had to take the PC12 on my Thanksgiving trip to Borrego Springs.  Oh well, #firstworldproblems   It actually worked out great because the turbulence (as usual) was fierce through Banning and the PC12 made it quick and easy.

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Aspen Max

I updated to the Aspen Max on the Oshkosh deal. It’s really the same unit but snappier response and better resolution. It’s brighter and clearer. I also already had the SVT and the Max now comes with it, but it’s quite a bit better now with the increased resolution. Had an o-dark-thirty departure into a thin OVC the other day and decided I really like the unit, it's a big improvement but hard to put my finger on why... it's just nicer to look at, clearer and smoother. Overall I’d say worth it at 3k, seems like a good piece of kit.

Friday, July 23, 2021

Annual time

Another year another annual.  No major squawks but it was time to overhaul the mags since the engines now have 550 hrs on them.  A few of those crap champion plugs had cracked the ceramic case so I just went ahead and replaced them all with Unison plugs.  I replaced all the augmenter blankets with new and made some slight tweaks to the rigging and now the trims are all perfectly centered up.  

Overall the plane is remarkably reliable and easy to maintain for a 60 year old twin.  I've been pretty much skating between annuals.  The Baron required far more non scheduled maintenance...  I'm knocking on wood right now.

Compressions were great.

L/E  1-76, 2-76, 3-78, 4-76, 5-78, 6-74  
R/E 1-78, 2-78, 3-76, 4-78, 5-78, 6-74

Sunday, June 13, 2021

NOS fuel panel

 Got my NOS (new old stock) fuel panel installed.  The wood panel just didn't jive with my new sidewalls, so I found these brand new replacements on eBay.  I think it looks great now.  Here is the before and after:

Saturday, June 5, 2021


 I finally rescued my plane from the interior shop at Lincoln...  5+ months for carpets, sidewalls, sound proofing and leather wrapping the yokes.  I heard every excuse in the book but I'm mostly happy with the end result.  Especially the sound proofing, the plane is definitely noticeably quieter.  I don't think they put the headliner back up correctly because it has some waves in it now, but I wasn't going to nitpick about anything I just wanted the damn birdy back so I paid the bill and got out of there.  I was worried the battery would be dead but the old girl fired right up.  I haven't gone more than 3 weeks without flying her since I bought it, so sitting for 5 months is far, far from ideal.  I didn't even get the seats done and now they're pretty mismatched.  I can do that later, they're still comfy.  What's I had done looks great though, and I'm happy with the result.  I think it was a matter of over promising, being understaffed, covid, yada yada... and far from cheap.  End of month she goes for annual too, so yet more downtime coming up.  Good to have lots of airplane options!

The Aircon control installed here is epic.  Love the way this turned out.  The armrest I found new old stock from Arrel aircraft and it's awesome, like new with a working little hinge door.  The wood panel pieces on the fuel panel don't match anymore so I found some new old stock in matte black on eBay for a reasonable price.  Will replace those soon.  

They did a nice job wrapping the window frames and repair the front window pillars which were in bad shape.  They came out awesome and I know that was a ton of work. 

Really happy with the carpet.  It's lush Italian wool and they did a really nice job with it and the cutouts for the seat rails.  The sidewalls look great in the color of a baseball mitt which lends to the vintage look.  The seats just need to match now.

Refurbished the airstair door and it looks really nice and vintage.  Super happy with the the modern/vintage look for the whole plane now.  I just need to do the seats to complete the look.  

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Long time

I haven't updated in a long time...  that's because the plane has been stuck at the interior shop at Lincoln Skyways for 14 weeks.  I'm super bummed out at this point, clearly they put me on the back burner and left me sitting in the hangar with almost nothing getting done.  At this point I could not recommend this shop, there is no excuse for it taking this long and I'm just glad I didn't even have them do my seats.  I'm reticent to post this because I hate to bash a company, but enough is enough.  I just want my damn plane back but I'm a hostage... 

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Interior refresh

I'm in the middle of an interior "light" job on the Beast. As always happens with these things, the project is dragging on unbelievably long and I'm now in week 6 with no end in sight. The job is basically to replace the carpets and spruce up the interior because according to my wife it's a bit "naff". Some repair and repaint of the front window pillars which had some cracks in the old bondo and paint, get rid of my crayola crayon scheme on the sidewalls, super sound proofing and a general spruce up... and leather wrap the yokes.  

Well, the yokes are done and they look great! but sadly the rest still has a long way to go... but it's hard to complain when you see they're doing a great job. Time, cost or quality... pick one.  

good thing my backup plane, when I need to rough it, and go in a spam can instead of riding in style in the bone.. is a pc12ng.  :lol:

thanks to Tom Rosen for spying on them for me.  :D

Friday, February 19, 2021

C50 for sale - sold

 Disclaimer - I'm not the seller, this is an estate sale from a deceased owner and a friend of the family reached out to me for help in selling this gem. I have no financial interest whatsoever, but I do have an interest in seeing this wonderful TwinBo end up in good hands!  

Asking price is 120k, the plane had continuous great hangared care up until the owners failing health and death in 2019, and it has sat in a hangar since. Come join the cool kids and own the Greenbay Packers TwinBo! 

1955 Beechcraft C-50 Twin Bonanza Al Swearengen modified to S-50
N280B, Serial number CH-308

Total time 5303.2 hours as of last annual inspection Oct 1 2018

Engines: Lycoming GO 480 G2D6 295HP
L/R SMOH - 1103.2 hours
McCauley propellers and spinners installed STC SA00860CH new - Feb 1999
Propeller L/R 394.2 SNEW

Exterior: Tan and Green in Green Bay Packer color scheme, very good condition
Interior: 2 pilot and 4 passenger seats covered in tan sheepskins (max 8 seats)
Brown carpet. Interior condition good.
Overall exterior and interior windshields and windows very good.
Always hangared.

Dual KX 155 Navs and Comms
Dual glide slope displays
Garmin GTX 327 transponder
PS Engineering PMA7000B audio panel
Century IIB autopilot
NSD 360A slaved HSI

Cockpit side windows and D’Shannon one piece windshield
Pilot and Copilot shoulder harnesses 
Cleveland Wheels and Brakes
Swearingen Aviation conversion from C50 to S50 model (gross weight increase, redesigned instrument and switch panel, conventional flight control positions pilot and copilot, conventional power quadrant, conventional seating for pilot and copilot, fully enclosed gear doors, airstair door)

Empty weight 4678 lbs. Gross weight for takeoff 6300 lbs.
Fully enclosed landing gear doors, Swearingen Twin Bonanza airstair door
Ultra range fuel - 230 gallons (w/25 gal aux tanks each wing) 7.6 hours endurance!
Airframe logs prior to 1989 not available

Contact Andrew Damiano, ajdamiano@pipeline.com or feel free to PM me and I can relay and questions. I think this could make a little gem for an aspiring tbone owner.

Update:  I'm told this sold to a fella in Florida, and is getting new engines installed now.

Saturday, February 13, 2021


It's crab season in NorCal! what better way to get your fresh crab than to fly to the coast and buy them right off the boats. bought about 8 lbs worth from the docs at KHAF. I wasn't so sure about having live crabs in the plane, so paid an extra $20 to have them cooked, cracked and cleaned right there, and then brought them home in a cooler. It's such a beautiful time of year here. 

Monday she goes in for minor update to my 70's interior.  Going for new carpets and sidewalls, leather wrapped yokes and some minor flourishes.  Hopefully not significant downtime.