Advantages of Cable Ties

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Cable tie in classic white. These fasteners secure wires that, if loose, may be compromised and thus hinder operations of your electrical systems.

At home or at work, we’ve all used them. Cable ties. What a grand invention.

If there is one word to describe the main advantage of cable ties it’s – organization. Fortunately, a blog post is not a meme so we aren’t limited to few words.

Also known as zip ties (strips), tie-wraps, and wire ties, cable ties easily afford a nice, neat presentation. How? By bundling up cables and wires that would otherwise be a jumbled mess. While white is most common, these fasteners come in other colors. Different colors can be used to identify different systems. Color–coded organization streamlines maintenance and allows crew members to quickly pinpoint an area that may require repair.

Cable ties lend themselves to other benefits as well. They are strong and don’t break easy (have you ever seen them act as handcuffs?). They are inexpensive and simple to implement. And who doesn’t love that clicking, ratcheting noise as you securely apply one?

In aviation, these items are used to instill order toward those miles of wires contained within your electrical systems and among your electrical components. Cable ties used to conform to specifications pertaining to military standard MS3367F; however that standard has been cancelled and has been superseded by SAE-AS33671.

In general cable ties are composed of plastic, particularly nylon. But, they can be made of steel. It seems counter-intuitive, though, to use metal ties on electrical wire and insulation, but that’s just a personal preference.

Cable ties beat, say, string. If you’ve ever come close to tripping over your shoelaces you know string can be dangerous. You don’t  want to get entangled in drooping cables nor do you want to accidentally tug string loose and dislodge and disconnect important wires. Plus, with cable ties you don’t need to earn a merit badge by understanding a laundry list of knots.

A minor setback: many cable ties are one-time use. If you make a mistake you’re going to need scissors or shears. But there are some varieties that are adjustable.

Still that doesn’t take away from all the aforesaid benefits. Industrial or domestic applications – cable ties are tidy and convenient. So next time you want to prevent the inner workings of your plane from looking like spaghetti strewn about after a tornado, reach for the ties that bind.

Sealants: A Brief Introduction

In the aerospace industry, sealants play a critical role. So is it any wonder why SkyGeek sells it?

In many ways, aviation served as the driving force behind modern bonding technology. Building planes and propelling them in the air requires weight-saving measures. What would be lighter, metal fasteners or chemical substances? The development of adhesives and sealants not only cuts down on an aircraft’s weight but it also cuts down on costs.

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Sealants – different purposes, different applications. (Courtesy PPG)

We gathered a brief set of useful notes to provide just enough insight on sealants to reinforce their importance.

What is a sealant?

A sealant performs prevention. Preventing what? It prevents things like air, gas, fire, liquid, smoke and even noise from penetrating one surface and traveling to another. Sealants seal, plain and simple.

What are its functions?

To know a sealant is to know its purpose. When two substrates (or more) form a gap, a sealant will fill it. By doing so a barrier is formed as the sealant’s physical properties adhere to the substrates. Once cured, a sealant is designed to maintain its properties for the lifetime of its use and under conditions and environments specified by the manufacturer.

Three forms

According to Adhesives.org, sealants are categorized by classes – one component, two-component, and tapes.

One component sealants are packaged in cartridge form and thus require no further equipment during application.

Meanwhile, two-component sealants “require bulk guns and mixing equipment to prepare and apply the sealant, and are typically packaged in separate buckets.” This class of sealant consists of a base component and an activator component. The two are usually mixed for a pre-determined amount of time prior to application.

Finally, sealant tape is characterized by sealant found on flexible backing.

When Compared to Adhesives

Sealants may be grouped with adhesives but they are not identical structurally or chemically. It’s not advisable to swap one for the other since they are not always interchangeable. We have already mentioned the purpose of a sealant but an adhesive’s main duty is to bond surfaces together. That’s it.

Some strong sealants may be considered adhesives. Additionally, sealants are considered really low-strength putties and caulks. So if you want to know comparatively the range of sealant, it falls somewhere between a strong adhesive and a weak caulk.

And while adhesives (bonding), caulks and putties (fill space) tend to perform one purpose, sealants can be applied for multiple reasons. Specially formulated sealants can serve as fire barriers, insulation (acoustic and thermal), or electrical, corrosion, and moisture inhibitors.

Additional Resources

There are many resources available out there to get you started on using sealants on your plane safely and effectively. While this post is by no means meant to be comprehensive that doesn’t mean SkyGeek doesn’t want to supply you with a way to learn more:

PPG Aerospace Sealant Glossary

Tips for Applying Sealants

Benefits of Sealants (and Adhesives)

LORD: (Not So) Shockingly Grand

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LORD Corporation’s logo and slogan

What’s an e-commerce site but a place that sells products? That’s essentially what it all boils down to, right? Or so it would seem.

With a large inventory a site is bound to offer several brands. And we do. Over 500 brands and manufacturers form the basis of what we provide our customers.

One such manufacturer is LORD.

LORD Corporation started in the 1920s in Erie, Pennsylvania. Hugh Lord, the founder, sought a way to reduce automobile noise pollution outside his workplace. And the rest is history.

With over 90 years of experience, LORD continues to be a solver of problems. The company has grown and developed its operations, both geographically and industrially.

“Ask Us How.” That is the company slogan. We asked (in the form of an online search about their company). Their answer – a corporate video explaining LORD’s scope:

As you see in the video, their innovative ideas cater to the aviation industry. “Flight critical components keep air passengers comfortable by reducing noise and vibration throughout the flight.”

In particular, their engine mounts are excellent at ensuring vibration does not shock and eventually compromise onboard systems. The end result is enhanced durability and control, two factors you want to possess while piloting an aircraft (or really any vehicle).

There were several phrases one can hear in that video: “Transform innovative ideas into long-term value”; “…materials for demanding applications in a wide variety of industries”; “…[allows] passengers to ride safely and in comfort.” With such an emphasis on innovation, collaboration, service and reliable performance, you can see why LORD is a part of the SkyGeek virtual catalog.

Perhaps the best way to sum up the culture, core value, and overall character of LORD is in this statement: “LORD was not founded to sell a product but rather to solve a problem.” With that said, is it really surprising why they have been so successful for almost  a century?

Yeah, we sell products but by proxy and by selling LORD we too seek to serve and solve the problems of our ever growing customer base.

Understanding Durometer

 

You’ve heard of odometers, speedometers, altometers (lots of –ometers). But what, pray tell, is durometer? Hint:  It’s not an instrument you slap on the inside of your cockpit.

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Figure 1 – Where to find durometer or “Hardness Rating” on an O-ring product page on SkyGeek.com (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

Basically, durometer refers to both the measuring device and the measurement of a material’s hardness. In fact, “duro” is Latin for “hard/tough.”  The “-ometer” refers to the fact that it is based on a scale; it is a measurement of some kind. Durometers indicate a material’s resistance to permanent indentation. In the aviation industry it often corresponds to products with an elastomer, polymer, or rubber composition. This is especially true when dealing with O-rings.

You will find specifications on the product pages of many O-rings we sell. Durometer is synonymous with “Hardness Rating.” (See Figure 1)

So why is this important? When applying an O-ring to a part of your aircraft that requires one, its material composition will give you an indication of its function and durability. Some assemblies call for harder elastomers, others softer. It’s the durometer that will indicate if the O-ring is the right fit.

For a brief overview of durometer, you can watch this informative Youtube clip. The content is great at giving a casual viewer a basic understanding of the topic. However, be warned: the speaker in the video is weird and his mannerisms may or may not be amusing.

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Shore Durometer Chart courtesy of the incredibly useful blog site from Alan Garratt. (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

Another aspect of durometer you may be wondering about is the use of the word Shore. Not only does Shore refer to the creator of the durometer, Albert Shore (1876-1936), it also is used in classifying the types of durometer scales.

There are many types but the two most common are Type A and Type D. According to Alan Garratt, “There is a simple logic laid behind the sequence of the early Shore scale letters and how they evolved to measure harder and harder materials. Later the need to measure materials softer than the range of Shore ‘A’ accuracy proved more difficult to fit into this progressive sequence of lettering.”

Garratt’s blog, Shore Durometer History,  is an excellent resource on the topic and is shore sure to provide those technically-inclined geeks out there with information on the development of this system. In particular I recommend reading the section “Evolution of the Shore Scales.” The bulleted points briefly explain why the classification is the way it is. Even better – there is a convenient chart of the various scales to compare and contrast (as seen above).

As mentioned, Type A is considered perhaps the most common of the Shore durometer scales. But within that type is a range. Numbers on this range go from softer to harder as they increase. Still, that may be too vague to understand so we retrieved this comparative list from Mykin Inc. The list provides real-world examples associated next to the numbers to give you a better idea.

SHORE

REAL-WORLD EXAMPLE

20A

Rubber Band

40A

Pencil Eraser

60A

Car Tire Tread

70A

Running Shoe Sole

80A

Leather Belt

100A

Shopping Cart Wheel

 

Remembering the Stars and Stripes

SkyGeek may not be some things, like a Fortune 500 company. We are not big business. But there is one thing you can be sure of: We are proud to be American.

As we celebrate Fourth of July, among the BBQs and the fireworks we realize that sometimes the more important aspects of the holiday are pushed aside.

Freedom and independence – ideals that were hoped for by a bunch of colonial rebels and now are dreams realized and remembered among the stars and stripes of Old Glory.

Imagine being a minuteman up against a formidable opponent, a lobsterback, a soldier better equipped and suited for combat? To be outnumbered and out-trained is enough to retreat for good. Isn’t it amazing that colonials in the 1770s didn’t back down when it made sense to?

History tells who prevailed and that is why year after year we celebrate those who sacrificed to ensure a country was established based primarily on inalienable rights for citizens seeking life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Fast forward to today and you will see America has grown to a superpower. Pretty impressive given such humble beginnings.

This may seem like a a long rant. It is (hey, it’s my inalienable right). But there is a point.

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The little engine that could. The logo for yellowairplane.com.

SkyGeek is a small business and while other aviation supply companies are bigger, that doesn’t mean we won’t continue to fight to serve you, the customer. Perhaps our journey will be like America’s, an underdog ready to rise and eventually reaching the top. We shall see if history favors us…

Speaking of history and speaking of underdogs I want to mention a nice site I stumbled on recently: yellowairplane.com.

At first glance, this site looks like a piece of history itself – something out of the 1990s. The layout is in need of an upgrade and the links are not very refined. But the amount of research and effort put into the content is commendable.

I applaud the owner of the site for compiling a list of aviation museums, which a visitor can search by state. I think this is a great site not only for Fourth of July but one way to discover ideas for summer vacations or really vacations of any kind, especially for aviation enthusiasts.

“These airplane museums not only tell about aviation history, but they tell us about the history of all mankind. They tell us about the tremendous wars that we have fought to keep our freedom.”

Who wouldn’t love to explore a site with that kind of mission statement?

Yellowairplane.com may no longer have an up-to-date list as information is always changing. What I would say is explore the site and give the owner feedback so he can improve an already comprehensive directory. It would be wonderful to contribute and help out someone so determined to preserve and promote aviation. A true patriot!

Crash Axe: A Demonstration

You know what’s great about having a blog attached to an e-commerce website? Every once in a while we get to offer our customers product demonstrations. Not personally but, hey, Youtube is great isn’t it?

We love crash axes; they are cool. The following video may not include any particular crash axe we sell but it does show you ones power and capabilities.

Pretend the dude in the video is busting up a part of the cowling or fuselage or a door that won’t open (for emergency purposes, of course). At the very least, this video can be seen as therapeutic.

Why Safety Wire?

Here’s a familiar scenario: You’re on a budget and money can only be allotted toward tools and equipment that get your aircraft up and flying. What do you purchase?

Obviously every pilot and plane owner will have different requirements based on their own unique maintenance needs at any given moment.

“Safety first.” Isn’t that the expression that should take precedence and determine what supplies are truly required?

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Page 7-19 of the FAA’s Advisory Circular 43.13-1B on “Safetying.” (CLICK TO ENLARGE)


With all that cloud-surfing at high speeds you are bound to encounter areas on your aircraft where fasteners loosen. Complications arising from vibrational forces are matters that should not be dismissed so easily. Routine maintenance and repair should include the use of safety wire.

In fact, according to the FAA’s 14 CFR Part 43 the use of safety wire is one example of a preventative maintenance item and is included as an item in a propeller check.

So what is safety wire and why should you use it? We have defined safety wire and its use in a previous blog post.

However it bears repeating that safety wire is a means of preventing vibration from compromising applicable fasteners from loosening in the event that they fail during operations.

Aviation is not natural. When you transport a person through the air you have to compensate for natural forces that resist. That which is unnatural is usually dangerous. And so that’s why the aviation industry ensures there are systems in place to buffer and backup. In other words, one component fails there is another in place and another. Safety wire works on the same principle. It’s peace of mind.

Besides peace of mind, there are other benefits to using safety wire. First it can act as an aid during inspections. If safety wire is applied and it is out of place or broken, this indicates that vibrational forces have acted on those fasteners and thus may need to be repaired or replaced before next flight. But how would you know this? Safety wire, in its twisted configuration, is highly visible and displays an assurance that fasteners held to scrutiny are secure.

Safety wire is also relatively inexpensive and the tools and accessories are not hard to find. Also these tools are not as rigidly limited in use, meaning it’s not like you need a specific screwdriver or bit to properly fit a screw head. Safety wire pliers, twisters, and tabs have a wide, almost universal field of use.

Still, safety wire has a few downsides that are worth noting. Casual plane owners may find it takes time to properly install; in this case it might be easier to seek assistance from a qualified mechanic or technician.

Another problem may occur when cutting excess wire. Small pieces may cause injury to either person or plane so it is important to properly clean the area of excess bits of wire scrap after completion of installation as well as to wear adequate safety gloves and eyewear during application. After all safety first, right?

For more information on the implementation of safety wire, aka “safetying,” please refer to, Pages 7-19 to 7-26 Section 7, Chapter 7 of the FAA’s Advisory Circular AC 43.13-1B.

Fathers In The Sky

Father’s Day is a time to give thanks to those men in our lives that have influenced us during our formative years. It’s more than giving a gift, a mug and a hug.

Fathers have guided and inspired countless children to strive to achieve something better for themselves and their families. They often set the tone and are examples to those around them. Like men in general, fathers are often leaders.

But above all they are workers. A man is still very much defined by his career and profession. And it is his work that reveals his character and how others perceive him.

“Who is your dad? What does he do?” The questions are often paired together because they are in some ways synonymous.

Fathers can be anything and can perform any function in society. Police officer. Professional athlete. Firefighter. Lawyer. Doctor. Plumber. Society needs them.

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Possible gift for a pilot father via Etsy

Families need them as well. Active in body and mind, fathers can show how to get it done and in doing so serve as a model for which their children can look up to both literally and figuratively.

And yes, some fathers are even pilots.

There is a definite appeal to being a pilot. Like their uniform or style (sunglasses and bomber jackets, anyone?) they represent this commanding presence of respect and authority. Sort of like a father would in a home.

There is a certain level of trust a pilot conveys, a sense that he knows what he is doing. “Don’t worry, we’re safe and secure,” one tends to think when seeing a pilot. Just as a father can appeal to impressionable sons and daughters as a person that can provide relief during tough times, there is no denying the appeal to wanting to be a pilot.

But fathers don’t have to be all serious. They can provide relief of another kind – comic relief. And so can those inspired by them.

Kids say the darnedest things? You bet.

In celebration of Father’s Day I found this hilarious quote that is sure to delight dads and aviators alike. This quote was taken from a really witty and cool site called, SkyGod (perhaps a relative of SkyGeek). Apparently this quote was written by a fifth grader. Gotta love the candor and innocence.

As a salute to all those father pilots out there, enjoy:

When I grow up I want to be a pilot because it’s a fun job and easy to do. That’s why there are so many pilots flying around these days.

Pilots don’t need much school. They just have to learn to read numbers so they can read their instruments.

I guess they should be able to read a road map, too.

Pilots should be brave [so] they won’t get scared [if] it’s foggy and they can’t see, or if a wing or motor falls off.

Pilots have to have good eyes to see through the clouds, and they can’t be afraid of thunder or lightning because they are much closer to them than we are.

The salary pilots make is another thing I like. They make more money than they know what to do with. This is because most people think that flying a plane is dangerous, except pilots don’t because they know how easy it is.

I hope I don’t get airsick because I get carsick and if I get airsick, I couldn’t be a pilot and then I would have to go to work.

Do UAVs Wear Bomber Jackets?

Ever play with toy planes, you know those that require a remote control? Ever wonder if they could be designed for more than just sport and recreation?

Well, child’s play is over. Adults want in on remote controlled flying vehicles and it isn’t for the purposes of impressing the neighbors or making fun-time at a birthday party.

They’re called unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, and they’re the poster child for robotics and their future role in military operations.

The concept of UAVs is nothing new. Ideas about its use in combat have been around since World War I. During the Cold War, the U.S. began to seriously consider the development of UAVs. And by the time the Vietnam War rolled around, UAVs were in their infancy.

The proliferation of UAVs can be attributed to a less geographic –specific conflict and a more pervasive enemy: the War on Terrorism.

According to Daniel L. Byman, Research Director of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy, the Obama administration has authorized over 400 UAV strikes up to August 2013. In comparison, former President George W. Bush approved of fewer than 50. This evidence suggests that UAVs are here to stay.

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Toying against terrorism. Soldier using a mini-drone. Photo courtesy of Lockheed Martin via the Orlando Sentinel.

From an Armed Forces perspective, the use of UAVs is practical. Using UAVs—sometimes referred to as drones or unmanned aircraft systems (UAS)— in place of a pilot and a plane lends itself to many advantages. Obviously a drone shot down will result in fewer fatalities in the sky. Drones also are more economical as they are more compact, weigh less, cost less, and can stay in flight longer. It makes sense to use them.

Besides acting as targeted killing machines, drones also serve as efficient means of surveillance and reconnaissance. UAVs have even been employed by the movie industry. Benefits there are aplenty.

But while this invention sounds like a welcomed vision out of science fiction the reality is that controversy surrounds their use. Several ethical and moral issues arise. What criteria are used to justify the use of a drone strike? UAVs may be an effective tool for our war on terrorism but are they themselves promulgating fear as well? What effect does it have on a population to have drones flying around them? Do citizens exposed to their presence feel safer or more scared?

What seems to be dismissed at least in part in this ongoing debate is the loss of the human element. Sure UAVs are advantageous in many ways and they work and will continue to work for various purposes. But what concerns this writer is at what cost?

Let’s put aside the fact that innocent civilians can be killed or that this brings to mind notions of “Big Brother” spying on the world population? Is there honor in this type of warfare?

I’m reminded of a book I read years ago called Wired for War. In it author P.W. Singer, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, tells of how robotics technology is revolutionizing the battlefield. A few points stood out:

+++The widespread use of robots has created a more intimate relationship between man and machine. At one point, Singer mentions how a soldier showed remorse when a robot was destroyed by an al-Qaeda planted IED (Improvised Explosive Device) that it was designed to detect. It was like how some law enforcement officers grow attached to bomb-sniffing dogs.

+++Knowing that generations born after 1976 are more tech savvy and into gaming, the military encourages the use of video games such as Call of Duty and even uses controllers that resemble ones used in gaming consoles for use in operating robotics.

+++Portions of the book suggest that the terrorist attacks on 9/11 on American soil was a way of al-Qaeda addressing what they consider US cowardice. By having UAVs fight our enemies from a distance and not directly confronting them face-to-face, terrorists feel compelled to target the location and source of the mechanized warriors, i.e. bring the fight to the continental US.

And so while writing this, I wondered: Do UAVs wear bomber jackets?

Obviously they don’t require clothing but what I mean is does the use of UAVs warrant pride? Bomber jackets became a popular symbol of style and adventure, but more importantly they became a symbol of honor.

This post is not a condemnation of UAVs nor is it an advertisement. However, with their ever-increasing use in public and private matters more awareness should be raised.

Like any piece of technology, its use will determine the merits of its existence. But unless some UN-sponsored ban is placed on them, UAVs will continue to gain ground as a permanent fixture of military operations and will undoubtedly, in time, find more applications, both commercial and maybe even one day civilian. Are we ready for that kind of future?

Famous Female Flyers

Mother’s Day is coming up….Yup. Or has it already passed? Time flies it seems…

They say behind every great pilot is a great woman. Well, what if that great woman IS the pilot?

History tends to favor the accomplishments of men (With a term like HIS-story is it any wonder?). You often hear about “Founding Fathers” but what about “Founding Females?”

At first, I wanted to compile a comprehensive list of famous female aviators that have not only inspired countless women but also shaped the world of aviation.

Apparently, I am not even remotely close to being the first to do so. Many lists on many sites exist, all of which display quite beautifully the accomplishments of these incredibly influential women. What would be the point of adding another list?

Rather than create a composite of these lists, why not simply direct your attention to the sources themselves? And that’s what follows. After all, who has time to make another list; we are too busy hugging our moms.

LISTS (Accompanied by commentary)

***Mother Nature Network compiled a list of Fabulous Flying Women consisting of eight aviator greats such as Bessica Raiche, Jacqueline Cochran, and of course Amelia Earhart.

***Women in Aviation, International awhile back wrote a detailed article that mentions the 100 most influential women in the aviation and aerospace industry. Be warned: for those that can’t read without pictures, this article is text-heavy.

***About.com provides a nice timeline of Women in Aviation. Really a quick overview but a great primer. Could probably be used as a source in a paper for students doing research on the topic.

***The site Listverse (how appropriate given its function in our post) published an article naming the Top 10 Pioneering Women of Aviation. It contains more of an international selection and contains lesser known women like Amy Johnson and Sabiha Gokcen.

***The Smithsonian (as you all know one of if not the most famous national museum) created a list entitled Flying With America’s Most Famous Female Aviators complete with a gallery of 13 women pilots. This list includes greats like Bessie Coleman (the first African American female pilot); Mary Riddle (the first Native American woman to earn a pilot’s license); and Patty Wagstaff, who was the first woman to win the U.S. National Aerobatic Championship and uses her skills to perform stunts in movies and television.

In relation, the website for the Smithonsian National Air and Space Museum contains an excellent page on Women in Aviation and Space History. What’s great about this link is that it contains columns of images of these famous female flyers in tile form. Click on the tile and you are transported to a mini-bio of that particular aviatrix. Wonderful layout to match the equally wonderful content.

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So there’s a list of lists for you. Hopefully by investigating the lists yourself you will realize that womankind’s contributions to aviation has and will continue to soar to new heights, shattering glass ceilings and stereotypes along the way. What parent wouldn’t be beaming with pride?