Tom Horne

Debonair Sweeps: Panel Sneak-Peek

November 30, 2012 by Thomas A. Horne, Editor At Large

N232L Radio Panel

N232L Radio Panel – click to see bigger image.

Ok, so the last Debonair post was a tad troubling…I mean, will that torn-up old instrument panel really make the leap to state-of-the-art?

Fear not! Santa Fe Aero Services has come up with a plan. And a drawing that shows their vision of the Deb’s panel-to-be. Click on the accompanying image and it will enlarge.

Take a look at the illustration and see if you like what’s planned. It’s a display-rich panel with a clean look and a load of new avionics. Again, check for subsequent posts–and the sweepstakes article in the January issue of AOPA Pilot magazine–for updates.

But for now I just wanted to give you a peek into the very near future. What do you think?

20 Responses to “Debonair Sweeps: Panel Sneak-Peek”

  1. Beau Chapman Says:

    Tom, AOPA members that especially enjoy the development of Sweepstakes planes were treated seveal years ago with the female editor in charge of the project that year. She had multiple photos of the changes AS THEY OCCURED, and one could see them online. Later the Pilot Magazine would have a few of them with the article. I’m disappointed that you (or ???) do not provide a similar display. One would think that the various companies that work on these planes or donate products to them would gladly take the photos for you, if asked. And what’s the big cost ???? of placing them online. It wouldn’t take your professional time. You could get some part time college student if needed.

    Give us a break.

    Beau Chapman

  2. Jason Says:

    The radio stack looks to be pretty far over to the right side. Do you anticipate that most pilots will need to lean over to reach the inputs? Excessive tilting and leaning in IFC can be problematic, and those Garmin touchscreens will be a regular tool in flying.

    I have long arms. Perhaps you should limit the entrants for this sweepstakes to people with long arms.

  3. David Says:

    I’d have preferred to see you equip it with traditional pitot-static and gyroscopic attitude instruments, plus a good moving-map GPS with weather overlays. That’s a more useful arrangement for many pilots than the current configuration of the electronic primary flight display.

  4. Don Sebastian Says:

    Comments from your prebuy guy; Upon reading the above comments, I thinks I have some solutions. The lucky winner will be making a big move (in most cases) into a new world of avionics. Being I am in the aviation safety business. I can’t imagine a older Skyhawk owner jumping into this airplane to fly home. So, as a CFII I will help the lucky winner transition into the Debonair at no charge for service. Every airplane I deal with doing prebuys, regardless of being ASEL with real old or modern avionics. Or a Turbine with more buttons than rivets. It’s a learning curve for me. But fortunately for me, my flight test go no wear but, up to altitude and back down. As for more detail about progress of this Debonair project. I’m sure if more folks ask for it, you will see it.

  5. Zack Bloom Says:

    You can flush mount an iPad Mini?

  6. Bruce Drangle Says:

    As for more detail about progress of this Debonair project. I’m sure if more folks ask for it, you will see it….Don Sebastian

    Beau Chapman…ditto…Let’s see more pictures & details,certainly

  7. J. R. Bridges III Says:

    I agree MORE PICTURES at every step of the process. They cost nothing to take, they cost nothing to psot, but they make us ( your constituents) happy….

  8. Beau Chapman Says:

    Tom, no offense but turn up your hearing aid and read these posts. Don Sebastian, our prebuy frined was kind enough to not only to post a note supporting more photos of Sweepstakes progress, but also offered his valuable free time to assist the winner with the Debonair. At the very minimum, READ THESE POSTS and respond, and join us in THANKING Don to take time out of his busy schedule and to make even more time to be charitable to help!.


    Beau Chapman

  9. Tom Horne Says:

    Well, I’m glad everybody has been following along! There have been pictures in the magazine articles that have been running about the Debonair sweeps, and there will be more in the future. And the website will provide more photos and commentary by me also. Stand by and remember that this is a 2-year project….the winner–who will be required to have long arms–won’t get his Debonair until AOPA Summit in 2014. Seriously, I don’t think anyone will have any problems operating the right side of the panel, no matter the length of their arms!

  10. Beau Chapman Says:


  11. Don Sebastian Says:

    Fellow aviators; as the AOPA gets deeper into this project, the information will come out. Just found out, the panel is still being put together. So pictures to show progress are not available yet. I just did my job of preforming a pre-purchase inspection, and left. Following the progress like you do, reading reporting points and articles. Tom is a very experienced aviator, and is intimately familiar with the installations and modifications. So he planned on familiarizing the lucky winner with the operation of the updates. Every prebuy I do has a different panel, causing a lengthy preflight and discussion with the seller before doing a flight test. But I am hearing some good inputs, and wish lists. And I learn something new, every day.

  12. Beau Chapman Says:

    1. Don Sebastian, if Tom hasn’t publically thanked you for your kind and generous offer to provide the eventual winner, let me be the first. I wonder if he even read your comment to that effect on this site.
    2. I don’t question Tom’s ability as a pilot. But I do question his attitude and responsiveness to our needs for more timely information to questions posted here, and photos with explanations of progress. For example, someone had to design the new panel. The sketch Tom provided (above) is a disgrace, even with a magnifiying glass. Why not have a few photos with some explanations from or echoing the experts installing it, and the challenges they face as well as benefits of the new design and instuments. Do we have to wait over a two year period to get these types of answers. Customers (AOPA members) don’t buy a “product” or “service.” What we buy is VALUE. This is a “real time” online site, not a monthly magazine. When questions or comments are raised, we expect “value answers” to follow.
    3. Tom’s note above mentioned that this is a “Two year project.” Maybe I missed it in reading AOPA Pilot on the Debonair, but this was the first I’ve heard of it.
    4. With respect, Tom, your response to this and other’s notes on this site is like watching a water facet with a slow drip, mighty, might, mighty slow. You can do better!

    Beau Chapman

  13. Tom Horne Says:

    Hello Beau–

    You will get your pictures very soon!

    We are building a dedicated sweepstakes webpage which will have plenty more in the way of photos and text coverage. To date, all my web reports were under “Reporting Points,” but not so much after the new webpage goes live in January

    There is a lot to talk about with this very agressive renovation….


  14. Beau Chapman Says:

    Tom, thank you for responding. I and others will look forward to the new Sweepstakes webpage in January. Let me share what I believe should be obvious. I am 82. Soloed at 21. Retired now, but passionate about all aspects of flying. AOPA, and we all, bemoan the decreasing number of new, younger pilots entering the “scene.”
    AOPA’s sweepstakes projects are more than someone hoping to win one. They present AOPA readers with the most advanced, state-of-the-art updates on (mostly) single engine airplanes. That’s EXCITING to all of us. So, the new web page you’ve mentioned and that type of current, timely information, especially when viewers have the opportunity to ask related questions, is excitint, 21st Century “dialog” with what has been in the past a monthly subscription to a flying magazine (with no one to “talk to.”)
    So, we’re on the same “page.” I’m just impatient with the pace. My profession was Strategic Market Planning. Translated: it was the constant “gearing up of the entire enterprise to meet and satisfy the needs and wants of customers, FROM THEIR VIEWPOINT. That’s what they consider “value”: what they want; when they want; in what format they want; and questions and comments not just “allowed,” but welcomed, with insightful responses.

    Happy holidays,

    Beau Chapman

  15. Tom Horne Says:

    Hello all–

    I’ve shepherded three AOPA sweepstakes restoration projects over the years: the “Win-A-Twin” Twin Comanche in 2004; the “Win A Six” Cherokee Six in 2006; and the “Crossover Classic” Cessna 182. The Debonair Sweepstakes airplane is perhaps the most ambitious of all the projects I’ve run. This means securing contributions and/or discounts on A LOT of very expensive equipment, then scheduling the work packages so that all runs smoothly as possible. Add to this the fact that the airplane is 50 years old, and that parts are often hard to find. It all adds up to the inevitable delays, callbacks, negotiations, and budgetary concerns that everyone must face these days. Even so, we have been successful in many aspects of the Deb project. So stand by for more info–and yes, photos and videos. The avionics work alone will take two-plus months to complete!

  16. JOE FLEMING Says:



  17. David Pauly Says:

    Tom, I am excited about the Debonair sweepstakes. I have a 1981 A36 with the same panel.
    I have one Aspen w/ 430w and intend to add a second Aspen with connected panel. In looking for a second GPS nav com I did not think the GTN 750 or 650 would work with connected panel.? Also why add an audio panel when the 750 can have one added?
    Thanks Dave Pauly

  18. PapaMilano Says:

    Not only will long arms be required of the winner, but a permanent head-tilt will be de rigeur when using the iPad Mini while displaying taxi diagrams or approach plates. I’d re-think that flush mount gizmo and put it on a swivel or gooseneck type mount. Haven’t the wizards of smart been touting that thing as perfect for that use case?

  19. John Says:

    I am excited to follow the progress of this airplane as time goes on! I’m certainly going to be jealous of whomever is the lucky one to fly it home from Palm Springs in 2014!

    To comment about the flush mounted iPad mini and a couple of other “gripes.”

    First, everything in aviation is a compromise of some sort. Trade-offs are made in the interest is getting the best possible finished product. However, that does mean there may be minor inconveniences like having to reach across the airplane to use the Garmin stack. It’s not that far. It’s probably no further than operating the radios on a Cessna Caravan.

    As for the iPad mini, I think it’s a great addition. The aircraft I crew has two of them, and they are amazing for situational awareness as well as convenient for carrying a huge database of charts and AF/D. I also don’t see any issue with its location. Yes, to view it in the dock will require a minor turn of the head. Is that any different that having paper charts on your knee? Additionally, there is no mention of the iPad being permanently affixed to the panel. Leave it there during cruise to stay charged up, and then pull it out, put it on your lap, or on a yoke mount or something else for the approach and taxi.

    I look forward to following the progress, and maybe I can put in an early vote for a 210 for the next sweepstakes!

  20. Says:

    Hurrah, that’s what I was exploring for, what a information!
    present here at this blog, thanks admin of this website.

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