Aircraft cover can be lifesaver
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By Paul Jansen
October 25, 2012 – The tropics are great for plant-lovers. The intense sunshine and relentless rains generate lush foilage and exotic flowers. I love the sight and smell of the blooms after each downpour.
I am fascinated by the wind whipping through the trees, turning droplets into horizontal sheets. And I can see the truth in Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’ assertion: “Should you shield the canyons from the windstorms, you would never see the true beauty of their carvings.”
But the same heat and torrents that enhance our natural surroundings also accelerate the growth of mold, set the stage for corrosion, and can wreck havoc with avionics in aircraft.
Hangar space in South East Asia is expensive. In Singapore, the monthly fee for storing your 4-seat aircraft can easily cross the Singapore $2,000 mark.
So the bulk of privately-owned planes are parked in the open and subject to the elements. Incredibly, most can be seen totally unprotected, baking in the sun and withering in the rain.
One of the first things I researched while looking for my first plane was aircraft covers. There are several companies offering these. A few have gained a good reputation among their customers.
While attending AirVenture 2011 in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, I took a close look at the covers over some of the 10,000 planes parked at Wittman Regional Airport, and visited the stalls of one of the companies which produced them.
Eventually, I picked Kennon, swayed partially by a pilot friend, Dr June Chan, owner of two Pipers, who was pleased with her choice.Kennon has been in the aircraft protection business since 1984, starting with sun shields wedged on the inner side of windows. Ron Kensey is credited with developing the first shields around 1990 which did not require fasteners or Velcro and his products are used the world over, including by the US military.
I ordered a cabin cover, cowl plugs, and of course, the computer-cut Sun Shields, for my 1989 Piper Warrior II, 9M-PRJ, in May 2011.
My specific unit was Kennon’s “All-weather deluxe cabin cover”, which cost US$475 at the time. Kennon has the measurements for the various makes and models of aircraft. But it knows that each one may have additions and modifications that need addressing if the cover is to do its job.
So it gives owners a diagram and asks them to provide details such as the distance from the centre line of the proposed cover of such protuberances as antenna or OAT probes, the height of the objects and the length and width of the bases.This took me just a few minutes to measure and record on the supplied chart. I picked a Pacific Blue trim and added my tail number for the cover. This is an option but the embroidery makes it easier to know whose cover it is should you have to leave it in the hangar for any reason.
The cover duly arrived and, to my delight, was a perfect fit. Stretching over the windshield in front and sheltering the cargo door in back, it lies snugly over the curved fuselage. Pockets take care of the grab bar, door handle and OAT probe.
Importantly, my cover has a lining which prevents grit from collecting on the underside and damaging the plexiglass windshield and windows.
Attached to the hem are straps in the front and rear. They go under the fuselage and are easily adjustable via quick release fasteners.
If you are as forgetful as I am, the Kennon cover has a forgiving entry flap over the door. This gives you quick access to the cabin even after you have strapped the cover on. Just pull open the Velcro-fastened flap.
After more than a year of use, I can vouch for the heat protection and waterproof qualities of the cover.
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Copyrght: Paul Jansen 2012. All rights reserved.
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