Jim Dennett's 180HP Maul
Normally when you think of the Maul what comes to mind is a practical VFR, fun to fly machine or maybe a light IFR aircraft. Mr. Dennett decided he wanted us to convert his Maul into a serious IFR flying machine. It's true that us west coast flyers seldom have to tangle with thunderstorms but we do get our share of fog that generates some low bases not to forget the fast paced ATC system we have out here in the west.
Mr. Dennett purchased the Maul brand-new; in fact he flew back to Georgia and picked up the aircraft after a few flight lessons. The aircraft came only with a King KX-125 which is good for pattern work but that's about it in my opinion. Jim decided to get his instrument rating and wanted to update his Maul to a real IFR machine. At first Jim wanted the Garmin GNS 430 and the GMA 340 audio panel to match but as he started studying for his instrument ticket, he decided to purchase some more goodies. The 430 just wasn't what Jim wanted so he updated to the monster size GNS 530 and for good reasons. Not only is the big screen easier to read, it's much clearer. Most of us instrument pilots lust for a HSI to help relieve the pressure of flying in the clouds but Mr. Dennett went one step further, he purchased the Sandel SN-3308 EHSI which gets its direction via a King slaved compass gyro.
Jim also realized that flying in the soup can really stress one out especially when trying to find a fix on the chart that ATC has commanded him to fly to. To keep the aircraft sunny side up during times like these, he elected to install the S-Tec System 30 two axis autopilot. Being the Garmin GNS 530 was going to be installed, it was a natural to install the S-Tec GPSS roll steering computer. Now all Jim has to do is enter a flight plan in the GNS 530, engage the autopilot and press the GPSS button and enjoy the view. The S-Tec GPSS adds features that many jet aircraft don't enjoy, I'd highly recommend one.
Jim and I flew the test flight after Aviation Artist Dave Bost completed the installation and everything purred along as it should. Jim does a fine job of managing the Maul and seems very comfortable with the new equipment (he studied the manuals prior to our flight).
The Maul instrument panels aren't strong enough to support the Sandel EHSI, thus we fabricated custom metal overlays for the machine and the owner loves the new looks. Jim flew his machine home and will soon start his instrument training. He's signed up for our coveted GNS 430/530 class late next month to learn all the nice features about his Garmin. Avionics West will soon hold formal classes on all the products we sell. The next time you see a Maul on the ramp, don't write it off as just a play machine, it may be Jim Dennett's "real" IFR machine.