Tom Horne

Debonair Sweeps: No Turning Back!

November 27, 2012 by Thomas A. Horne, Editor At Large


The Debonair Sweeps' gutted panel

Yikes! The Debonair Sweeps’ gutted panel


I’ve shepherded three AOPA Sweepstakes airplanes through their restorations, and there’s something that shocks me each time.

What is it? It’s seeing a photo like one posted here! Yep, this is the stage where all the old avionics have been yanked, and then unceremoniously tossed or traded in to the avionics shop for credit (what little that might represent) against their labor.

But look at it…chaos incarnate. NO WAY the old panel is ever coming back! The point of no return has passed!

Even though you may intellectually grasp the idea, at this stage of a panel restoration the mind cannot fathom the concept of a full-on upgrade. How can any normally-endowed person have the ability to put things right after seeing such a mess of wires and gaping holes? You or I couldn’t, of course. So take a look, ladies and gentlemen: The Humpty-Dumpty metaphor, made manifest!

Good thing that Santa Fe Aero Services has been there, done that. Many times over. Before long, we’ll see a three-screen Aspen Avionics installation, along with Garmin’s GTN 750 and GTN 650 navigators, an Alpha Systems angle of attack indicator, an R.C. Allen backup attitude indicator, a PS Engineering PMA8000BT audio panel, a CO Guardian carbon monixide detector, a JP Instruments EDM 900 engine and systems monitor, and much, much, much more. Like a panel-mountedĀ iPad Mini, USB charging ports, and new annuciators.

Check out the January 2013 issue of AOPA Pilot for more information about the Debonair Sweeps’ panel transformation.

And don’t worry. The gutted-panel look may prompt despair, but that will fade as the new panel springs, Phoenix-like, into the 21st century.

7 Responses to “Debonair Sweeps: No Turning Back!”

  1. Scott Johnson Says:

    Do you really feel none of your readers could perform a panel upgrade? I’m compelled to say, I’m mildly offended by that comment. With the appropriate training and credentials, I believe you could.

    I’d prefer that you honor the folks that can by writing about their achievements and craftsmanship instead of making such gross assumptions. Just my two cents for what it’s worth.

  2. Pete Kuhns Says:

    Panel mounted iPad mini?

  3. Michael McDow Says:

    I must agree that the panel looks like a bowl of Spegitti. I also know that the finished product will amaze and dazel every pilot such as me. Looking forward to the final panel. Thanks for the update and I am keeping my fingers crossed. AOPA since 1963.

  4. Butch Says:

    I don’t like to make comments like this, but I’ve just got to say this after reading Scott Johnson’s comment – with all due respect, the article is just an article, meant for the enjoyment of the readers. If you feel “mildly offended” about something, then just don’t read the frikken article ! There’s always going to be things you don’t agree with or feel that could have said better or whatever. But don’t start with the “I’m offended” PC garbage – there’s too much of that in the world already. If you are that sensitive, you probably don’t need to be flying…just sayyin…

  5. John Wilcox Says:

    I think Scott needs to rethink his comments. I, having done a similar upgrade on my panel several years ago, can say that what you see in the picture is only the beginning of the work that will be done. If the job is done correctly all the existing wire will be removed not only from behind the panel but throughout the aircraft and all new wire will be installed. In my case a number of components were remotely located which required some modifications to the aircraft structure. This is not a simple job it requires a lot of skill.

  6. Mark Keneston Says:

    As with others here. I know a panel job is probably the most extensive work that needs the most skill and training to accomplish. At the end of the day, I am sure it will be wonderful and I hope I am blessed enough to be the winner. 3 in a J3 on floats just does not work anymore. Great job guys and some readers really need to comment less and consider themselves fortunate

  7. John Green Says:

    It will be a beautiful and functional panel. Very well laid out. As to taking offense from the article, I guess if you are looking for an insult, you will find it.

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