Good to go

Today was the first time I sat behind a Garmin G500, and it was a bit of sensory overload! So much capability, so many functions! But bottom line, today’s shakedown flight went well, for the most part. “When you do a big job like this, you can expect some glitches,” said Advantage Avionics’ Mark Krueger. “It’s kind of like open heart surgery.”

The day started with a call to XM WX satellite weather’s activation service, which is apparently based in India. I was told to set aside a half-hour for the activation process, and it came close to that duration. I had to give the datalink receiver’s ID number, the audio unit’s ID number, and the Garmin GDL 69A datalink receiver’s serial number. Then, I opted for both the weather and audio services, and–last but certainly not least–provide my credit card number so the activation could begin. The weather package is $12.95 per month; the audio, $8.99 per month.

Now I can listen to Commander Cody and the Lost Planet Airmen sing “Hot Rod Lincoln” as I cruise over the Sange de Cristos tomorrow. And at the same time, keep an eye on a storm system–another one!–that is predicted to enter the Ohio River Valley area on Sunday and Monday.

To sync up the heading info, Krueger and I made a 360-degree turn around Chino’s compass rose, stopping at 30-degree intervals for the AHRS to do its processing. That setup completed, it was time to taxi to the active–made quite easy by using the airport diagram on the G500’s SafeTaxi display on the MFD.

After taking off from Chino, it was a left turn to cross a bumpy ridge, then on to the calm air over the ocean (low level turbulence makes for bad autopilot test conditions), and a level-off at 3,000 feet. The S-TEC System Fifty-Five X held altitude well–in spite of the bumps–and its heading and vertical speed functions also made the grade. The altitude preselect function was out to lunch, so autoflight climbs were done using the VS mode only. The other issue was the autopilot disconnect alert: so loud it tried to blow us out of our seats!

The traffic advisory system picked up plenty of traffic over south LA. I think I’ll leave it on all the time, and let it play on the #2 GNS 430. There was an intermittent “traffic fail” alert” on a couple of occasions, and then the problem seemed to go away. Finally, the XM WX and XM audio never activated as promised, so no Commander Cody on this flight.

The Fifty-Five X flew a near-perfect ILS to Chino’s runway 26R–Garmin’s ChartView provided the approach chart on the MFD–and then it was back to the shop, where all the squawks were resolved within an hour and a half. Now photographer Chad Slattery is taking some shots of the reborn panel, and near sunset we’ll launch again for some inflight panel shots.

Tomorrow’s plan is to try to reach Wichita, depending. A nonstop leg to ABQ could take as much as five hours, which would cut my fuel reserves uncomfortably close unless the winds cooperate. Also, it will be a flight at 11,000 or 11,500 feet most of the way, and I like to use oxygen when flying that high. Like to, but don’t have any oxygen on this trip (Mountain High is coming through with one of their oxygen systems in a few weeks). Can I make it to ICT after stopping and gassing up at ABQ? Sure–it’s only another 3+50 or so. But that’s a long day’s worth of flying.

Then again, I will have Commander Cody. Do check out “Hot Rod Lincoln.”

  • Paul Bellmann

    This is very exciting time for the Sweepstakes C182. Garmin has a very informative short Video available on their WebSite for the G500. I am in suspense to see the finished panel by Advantage Avionics. I can’t help but feel these last Blog posts have been real teasers! Keep up the great work!

  • Chris

    XM Weather for $12.95 per month? What special plan are you on? We’re paying more than double that and XM’s website lists $35 as the least expensive option.
    Do share!

  • Michael Saul

    This is going to be one of the best sweeps plane you guys have had! That is my dream plane, and it is fantastic to be able to follow the entire process!

  • Ron Peters

    Great project. I can’t wait to take it home!
    XM WX for $12.95? What do you get for this amount? I pay over $50/mo for XM WX for a 496.

  • Taylor Smith

    Would it be possible for us to see a “schedule” or order in which things will be done to the plane. I think that would be cool. Thanks.

  • David C Harmon

    Exciting, but I am not a pilot ye

  • Mike Troici

    Great Job on getting the avionics tuned in. I have a bunch of young folks waiting for me to give them intro rides when Craig hands me over the keys. Excellent work!

  • Chris

    How about including one of those close-up shots of the reborn panel that Chad Slattery took?

  • Dean

    Nice article and it’s my goal to do something similar in my 1966 Meyers 200D sometime soon. However, either you’re getting a special deal on your XM Aviation Weather subscription or you might have your facts a little off. I pay $54.99 per month for the mid-priced subscription for use on my Garmin 396 GPS. Their lowest price subscription is $34.99 per month. In any case, it’s worth every penny for long cross country flights.

  • Cary Alburn

    Not jealous, because I love my airplane (1963 Skyhawk P172D, updated with 180hp Lycoming, bunches of other stuff). But with hundreds of Skylane hours under my belt, I certainly think someone is going to get a pretty wonderful airplane, when this thing is all done. Of course, if you need an old Skylane pilot to give you an unbiased opinion on its flight characteristics, all you have to do is give me a jingle! 😉


  • Mike Sundstrom

    Nice looking pannel, hope I look that good behind it someday!


  • Rolando Torres

    Still have lot of orange around. When it converto to the new interior will see the diference. How much all the avionics and panel cost?…Looks great!!!

  • David LeBlanc

    Looks like an awesome aircraft. I use to fly a 182RG with steam gages. I could like this one real fast.

  • Asghar Shah

    So what does it cost to do this all including purchasing the aircraft ? I am sure a lot of people would be interested to know since this plane has all the bells and whistles why not BRS system on it ?

  • http://google muthumari.k

    please give me any one project

  • http://google muthumari.k

    i wany any project news was in satelite

  • Stanford Kenyon

    Could I see the plane that was down loadable for flight sim. I would like to get that instrument pannel for the
    cessna that I have now. I’ll take the whole file if you can offer it to a member or purchase. Thanks, Stan.

  • John

    Beautiful Panel!!! This is a functional state of the art, yet clean panel layout. Love the photo and smile. I’d like to have this panel in my Arrow, but the panel cost would exceed the cost of the airplane.

    • thorne


      well, maybe you’ll win it. crisis averted!


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    I ain’t suggesting your information is not good., but what if you added a headline to maybe get people’s attention? I mean Good to go