Pilots and airplane owners always need new stuff. Flying’s like that. The stuff could be a new headset, a bigger flight bag, or flight simulation software. Unlike other hobbies, airplane stuff can’t be purchased at Wal-Mart—or Neiman Marcus, for that matter. Airplane stuff requires an “Airplane Stuff” store.
Aircraft Spruce and Specialty, a megastore for all things airplane, has branched out again with Pilotshop.com. The Pilotshop.com catalog is full of cool airplane stuff, useful airplane stuff, and must-have-to-be-safe airplane stuff. There’s also fun-for-the-family airplane stuff.
Pilotshop.com has airplane pedal cars for the future pilots in the family; flight simulation accessories such as throttle quadrants, yokes and a fistful of different software offerings so pilots (and not-yet-big-enough-to-fly junior pilots) can hone their flying skills; aviation-themed gifts so the family’s non-pilot can join in the airplane fun; and learning and educational flying-oriented information on DVDs and in books. Pilotshop.com even has Mutt Muffs to protect Fido’s ears.
Best Prices—They Guarantee It!
The biggest driver in General Aviation over the past decade has been avionics. In 1995 no one, except for a few dreamers, could have predicted the capabilities of today’s handheld GPS navigators. Advances are rolling out so fast that yesterday’s super unit is today’s artifact.
Electronic flight bags (EFBs) are here to stay which means that today’s well-equipped GA pilot no longer has to tote pounds and pounds of paper charts and plates out to the airplane before and after each flight.
A wide range of the most popular handheld GPS navigators—from companies such as Garmin, with its newest seven-inch touch screen aera 796 and 795 and its 4.3-inch screen aera 500 series; Bendix King with its big-screen AV8OR ACE, and smaller but still mighty AV8OR; and AvMap’s EKP IV—are in stock at Pilotshop.com and ready to ship.
In addition to the latest of these handheld marvels, Pilotshop.com continues to carry a selection of very capable but recently discontinued navigators such as the Garmin GPSMAP 696, 695, 496 and 495.
Not only are units ready to ship, Pilotshop.com will meet or beat any price on any product, including avionics. There are a few caveats to that guarantee (the competitor’s price must be on an in-stock new item—not a floor sample, a refurbished or an open-box item) but you won’t do better on prices.
That guarantee is written large on the first page of the company catalog. This promise to do “everything possible to meet or beat” a lower price comes from the three Irwin brothers behind Pilotshop.com. The guarantee applies to everything Pilotshop.com sells.
In addition to the amazing advances made in GPS navigators, the other must-have portable avionics on everyone’s list is a portable collision avoidance system (PCAS). The combination of a big-screen GPS navigator with traffic advisories and warnings displayed in real time on a full-color display screen provides today’s pilots with terrain and traffic awareness that ensures a bubble of protection that wasn’t available only a few short years ago.
Pilotshop.com has both Zaon MRX A-A and Zaon XRX units in stock. The MRX is completely self-contained, provides both traffic alerts and warnings, and is a reasonably priced PCAS; the XRX costs more but has the advantage of being easy to interface with many portable and panel-mount GPS navigators.
Trade It In and Move Up
When it’s time to move up to a newer and more capable GPS navigator or headset, Pilotshop.com will take some older units in on trade. All it takes is a phone call to customer service to start the process rolling. (For complete contact information, see Resources at the end of this article. —Ed.)
Pilotshop.com also offers a wide range of fully refurbished GPS navigators. Since the supply and variety of the refurbished units varies from time to time, check the website or call customer service for information on what units are available.
Jeff, Mike and Rob Irwin met with Jennifer and Kent Dellenbusch and me during our recent visit to the Pilotshop.com facility in Corona, Calif. These three brothers manage the day-to-day affairs of Pilotshop.com. Mike is in charge of purchasing, while Rob doubles as the company website content chief and partners in marketing with Desiree Czaplinski, the marketing manager. In addition to his duties at Pilotshop.com, Jeff also manages the Aircraft Spruce branch in Canada.
They’re the sons of Jim and Nanci Irwin, the couple best known for spearheading the expansion and growth of Aircraft Spruce and Specialty, an international aircraft parts and supply company that today employees over 150 people. Jim Irwin is the son of Bob and Flo Irwin, who founded Fullerton Air Parts in 1956. This family has been providing parts for both certified and kit plane airplane owners for over 55 years.
In addition to the avionics I’ve already mentioned, Pilotshop.com also carries other pilot supplies such as the latest noise-cancelling headsets from Bose, Lightspeed, Sennheiser, David Clark, Telex and Flightcom. Select headsets are eligible for free overnight shipping.
Pilotshop.com also carries big watches; no-wrinkle pilot shirts for pilots who crave or need to look professional; epaulets—metallic gold and silver stripes, four, three, two, one and zero stripes—in black and navy blue; flight jackets; dark, official-looking neckties—in regular, clip-on and zipper styles—and red, yellow or black neckties decorated with an airplane, helicopter or swept-wing jet designs.
Speaking of big watches, the Suunto Vector watch sold through Pilotshop.com has a built-in barometric pressure function. It features an alarm that can be set for any altitude. While I wouldn’t count on the Suunto Vector wristwatch as my primary altitude alerter, it would work as a backup alert; there’s also a feature that stores the ascent and decent rate for the past 24 hours as well as the present pressure altitude.
Pilotshop.com also stocks sunglasses (Serengeti, Ray-Ban, Randolph, and VedaloHD); portable carbon monoxide detectors; a wide range of always handy in-flight comfort items such as Sic-Sacs; “john” items such as Little John, Restop and Travel John; and motion sickness relief items such as Motion Eaze and acupressure wrist bands.
Backup handheld VHF comm radios such as the slick little Vertex VXA-220 Pro, the bigger and more powerful VXA-300 and the nav-capable VXA-710 are ready to ship and surprisingly affordable. Portables from Icom, including the IC-A6, IC-A24 and IC-A14 are also in stock.
A portable handheld comm radio is a must-have for IFR flyers and can also provide an audio window into the action at your local airport or at any of the airshows and aviation events that take place throughout the year. I tuned mine into the local approach control frequency to get acquainted with the flow and information of radio comm procedures while studying for my instrument rating.
The List Goes On
Flight planning tools, VFR and IFR charts, and a large selection of flight training and General Aviation education books and DVDs are also in stock at Pilotshop.com. These include DVDs and videos by well-known writers and aviation personalities such as Barry Schiff, Rod Machado, and Dick Rutan.
Let’s say you’re pushing your son or daughter to become a licensed airframe and powerplant (A&P) technician. Pilotshop.com stocks the latest course textbooks and study guides.
Or perhaps you’ve become interested in aerobatics. Pilotshop.com has books and DVDs with titles such as “Anatomy of a Spin,” and “Skydancing: Aerobatic Flight Techniques.”
The selection of videos is wide and spectacular. Ride along with Air Canada for four and a half hours in one of its Boeing 777s; take a trip to remote Alaska airstrips such as Unalakleet, Nome and St. Mary’s with Everts Air Cargo in a DC-6. Dick Rutan presents subjects such as Attitude Flying and Decision Flying. Flight instructor, educator and author Rod Machado uses humor to convey his unique flavor of flying lore. All these and more are available at Pilotshop.com.
What About Airplane Stuff?
In addition to the products already mentioned, Pilotshop.com stocks a huge range of airplane stuff such as pitot covers (there are over 15 different kinds in the catalog), chocks, aircraft oil, banners and placards, tools, instruments, cleaning supplies, cowl plugs, aircraft lighting accessories, tires and tubes, tow bars and some airframe and engine parts.
What about the Prices?
You’ve logged on to www.pilotshop.com and have started surfing the site to look for the items on your list. You may want to know why you see prices listed beside some items, but not for others. As with many other Internet shopping sites, all that’s required to obtain the final selling price on any item is a click on the “ADD TO CART” button—the price will be displayed in the “Shopping Cart” window.
So here’s the deal with Pilotshop.com. Its selection covers a wide range of supplies, must-have avionics, and educational and hard-to-get items. Price matches are guaranteed, as is a 30-day, money-back guarantee. Free shipping is the rule for any purchase of over $99 (except for heavy items such as oil, or items that require crating) and since Pilotshop.com products are distributed from centers on both coasts, overnight shipping is always available. What more could a pilot want?
Steve Ells has been an A&P/IA for 38 years and is a commercial pilot with Instrument and Multi-Engine ratings. Ells also loves utility and bush-style airplanes and operations. He’s a former tech rep and editor for Cessna Pilots Association and served as Associate Editor for AOPA Pilot until 2008. Ells is the owner of Ells Aviation (www.EllsAviation.com) and lives in Paso Robles, Calif. with his wife Audrey. Send questions and comments to .
Aircraft Spruce & Specialty Co.