About SkyGeek Product Images

Before you purchase something you want to be able to see it. Even better would be if you can hold it in your hands and examine it. Internet shopping, unfortunately, does not allow for the latter but at the very least a product should be visible on a commercial website, right?

The answer is not so transparent and can be more opaque than desired.

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Figure 1 – The dreaded “Image Coming Soon” sign found on our site.

Big e-retailers have the resources and personnel to retrieve images for their massive inventory. Smaller businesses, well, not so much. But it is more than that. A small company that sells a comparatively small inventory of popular items will more than likely be able to find images for their products.

What do you get when you have a massive inventory but with a significant portion geared toward a niche market? Answer: SkyGeek’s product image dilemma.

The aviation industry is a market for a variety of products, some well known and others obscure. Owning and maintaining a plane will inevitably have you searching for not just shop supplies but also specialized parts and assemblages. So for every can of Plexus and case of AeroShell Aircraft Engine Oil, there are items that may never have a web presence—at least not in image form.

We’re trying to change that.

As hard as it is to believe, not every manufacturer has images of their catalog on their own site or for public use. Many times SkyGeek will contact the manufacturer and ask for an image; seldom does this tactic work. If we receive a reply at all (which is rare) a representative will simply state they do not give out images. If they actually provide an explanation for not sending an image, it is usually due to some legal constraint, i.e. proprietary reasons and all of that.

Trust us, it’s equally as frustrating for SkyGeek as it is for our customers.

To make matters worse, search engines are not too thrilled in seeing a place-holder photo that contains the ambiguous message “Image Coming Soon” (See Figure 1). We can just hear the people screaming, “HOW SOON!”

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Figure 2 – A stock photo used as a place-holder in order to appease search engines. It is temporary until we can find a more reliable picture.

In an attempt to appease the Google-gods we found stock photos of items and placed brand logos on them. Take, for example, the Henkel Alodine 600 Conversion Coating 55 Gallon Drum (See Figure 2). We could not find an image of a 55-gallon drum so we found a generic drum of that size and placed a Henkel logo on it. This is until we can create or capture an actual image of the item. Again, this is not our final solution, but rather a step in the right direction.

The above Henkel example also hints at another reason for not having images of every item.

Not many know that while we have inventory in our 60+ acre warehouse, that is not the only warehouse our items draw from. Warehouses across the country from our suppliers dropship the items, meaning these items are stored in these other warehouses and don’t even come through our own when shipped to the customer. And even if items did make a stop at our facilities, we cannot open the package and take a photo because then the item(s) would not be considered “new.” So you can see the problem we constantly face when it comes to grabbing images.

Sometimes we find an alternative. The next best thing comes in the form of an illustration or diagram of the product. This is often the case with hardware. For instance, the illustration of the Military Standard MS20002-4 Steel Washers offers a clue to their size and dimensions (See Figure 3).

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Figure 3 – An illustration of the MS20002-Series Steel Washers. Sometimes the only alternative when an actual image is not available.

As for the fate of many specialized parts we sell and whether or not they will ever be seen in all their glory, that is yet to be determined. Perhaps our biggest product line that remains faceless is that from Piper. Anyone that has tried knows Piper’s website does not offer an image for each of its countless parts. We sell literally thousands of them and have yet to find a method of acquiring good pictures to transfer to our customers. The best we are currently able to do is search for parts catalogs or have customers refer to them if they already have one.

If you have any suggestions as to securing reliable and non-copyrighted images of products, please feel free to email us at service@skygeek.com or comment below.

Product Details: Military Standards

Peruse our site and you are bound to come across this short-hand phrase: “MIL-STD” or “MIL-Spec” or something similar. I’m sure many readers are familiar with these phrases and know that they stand for military standard and military specification, respectively. But what exactly does that entail?

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General location of the Military Standard on a SkyGeek product page. (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

If we were to discuss down to the minutest detail every facet of what these standards are and what they encompass, we would have a blog post longer than all existing copies of War and Peace combined.

Let’s not overcomplicate the issue.

While often used interchangeably, there are slight differences between military standards and military specifications, both of which are established by the United States. Military standards refer to the process and materials used to create a product while military specifications identify the physical traits a product possesses. In a way you can consider the military standards as the general/broad concept of a product and the military specification as, well, the specific aspect of the product (as the term would suggest). These are not precise definitions but it certainly gives you a better frame of reference.

The purpose of a MIL-Spec is to present a set of guidelines and objectives to which a product must conform. This standardization creates a sense of consistency in quality and its aim is to achieve uniformity in performance within and among the various branches of the military. Having a list of standards and specifications provides a baseline that manufacturers can follow to produce a product of lasting value. In essence, MIL-Specs are a means of quality assurance. If a product does not meet these standards, that should indicate to a customer that the product is inferior. However, if it exceeds these standards, then users know the product can reliably do its job.

An excellent source to determine conformance to the aforementioned standards is by using the database library at EverySpec. Let’s use some examples to further illustrate MIL-Specs.

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Figure 1: A snap-shot of MIL-STD-704F on EverySpec’s website. Notice the abstract or summary on the top that desrcibes it. (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

MIL-STD-704F is considered an interface standard that ensures “compatibility between the aircraft electric system, external power, and airborne utilization equipment.” When you search EverySpec you will find that this document has many versions (See Figure 1). These versions show the updates to the status of the standard; MIL-STD-704F has undergone many revisions over the years. It was first issued in 1959 and as Figure 1 proves, many notices have been released to coincide with any changes to the standard. Thus, EverySpec shows the history of the standard’s development and keeps a record of said changes.

A great thing about EverySpec is that you can usually download each version of the standard to inspect the information in further detail.

Another aspect of this site worth mentioning is the status. The site will tell you if the MIL-Spec is active (green bar) or cancelled (red bar). If a standard is cancelled it has usually been superseded by either another standard of the government or a standard set by an industry institution (e.g. SAE).

Now let’s find a MIL-Spec item on our site.

BP 2380 Aviation Turbine Oil has the following MIL-Spec: MIL-PRF-23699F. Search EverySpec and you will find that this is a “performance specification” (hence the PRF). It pertains to lubricating oils with a synthetic base used in aircraft turbine engines. The “F” in 23699 indicates it is a revision of a previous version. This MIL-Spec is active and has superseded another standard, MIL-L-23699E.

Yet another military standard is the MIL-DTL; the DTL stands for detail. In addition to performance requirements, this specification provides detail requirements, i.e. materials to be used as well as how to construct the product using the materials so that the requirements can be met. An example of such a product that conforms to this standard type is Prist’s Hi-Flash Hi Flo Anti-Icing Aviation Fuel Additive, which has the following MIL-Spec: MIL-DTL-85470. According to EverySpec, this detail specification is classified as an icing inhibitor for fuel systems. It is active and it supersedes MIL-I-85470A.

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Logo of the U.S. Department of Defense, which establishes MIl-Specs.

Who is responsible for military standards? Yes, the U.S. government but who specifically? You can thank the Department of Defense (DOD), which handles the Army, Navy, and other military departments and agencies. If you refer back to Notice 1 of MIL-DTL-85470B, you will find the notice advises you to “verify the currency of [MIL-Spec documents by] using the ASSIST Online database.” ASSIST, or Acquisition Streamlining and Standardization Information System, serves as the foremost method of seeking the latest information on MIL-Specs. This database is part of the DOD’s Defense Standardization Program (DSP), a program where you can locate MIL-Spec documents. Using ASSIST is similar to using EverySpec and it is better in that it comes straight from the source. The drawback: you need to register and have a username and password to access the documents not available to the public. Plus, the ASSIST website is often hard to access. However, a nice alternative is assistdocs.com.

So why do companies like Prist and BP and others make products that meet or exceed military standards? Conforming to MIL-Specs allows manufacturers to bid on government contracts. Obviously this is to the manufacturer’s advantage as it is profitable. It is also a good means of marketing a product. As mentioned, these standards will ensure quality. The result is a product that customers can rely on.

Cockpit Commentary: A Trip to the Past

Flying is dangerous.

That is the somber sentiment I am reminded of from time to time.

Human beings are not naturally gifted with the ability to defy gravity. Yet we did it—at least through innovation and technology. Unfortunately, with such triumph came sacrifices. A lot of trials, tribulations, and tragedies were the expenses paid for sustained flight. But we persevered, evident by the mundane modern flight we experience every day.

As a global society, most of us almost intuitively understand the benefits of air travel; they are immeasurable. Flying saves time, it saves money. It’s good for business. There are countless ways it has collectively improved our lives, directly and/or indirectly.

Commercial flight has been around for decades. What’s your business? What’s your pleasure? Going on vacation? Let us take your bags. Let us accommodate you and make your trip enjoyable.

Originally, that was the ideal vision of air travel and for awhile I suppose it existed. But that fairy tale is pretty much just dust in the wind.

Since 9/11, air travel has been anything but novel and flying seems anything but convenient. The word “luxury” exists but in smaller supplies. Don’t expect a full meal; you’ll get a bag of peanuts and like it. Fees for this and fees for that. Oh wait, you can’t bring that nose clipper on board because it might be a grenade launcher. Security is tight. Terrorism pervades the tarmac. Flight is seriously not a prelude to fascination and fun.

My sunglasses have long ceased to be rose-colored.

More planes in the air mean tireless coordination and navigation to minimize collision. And in addition to increasingly screwy weather in the last few years, there’s an even greater possibility for delays.

You know what else causes delays? Mentally unstable individuals that cause chaos in airport terminals.

I’m sure many of you reading are well aware of the recent LAX incident. It’s sad. Whenever such stories crop up (which seems to be more and more frequent) I shake my head and wonder why. Why do we, despite elevated security, continue to witness threats like this in the news?

I don’t have an answer. But my thoughts often make we wish I could take a special trip to the past, when something like a terrorist on a plane was as uncommon to the natural order as flying cars.

I found this clip. It’s a 1958 Pan Am commercial that displays their 707 jet service.

Would you look at that food? Would you look at that service? The dishes and meals look like a five-star restaurant! Air travel certainly seemed much better.

Of course, that is only a matter of perspective. Flying was comparatively much more expensive right after WWII. The perks of flying were much different as well. Would you rather play with a puzzle (1950s) or watch a Blu-Ray of the latest blockbuster (today)? Would you rather be able to light a cigarette (1950s) or be squished by a nearby passenger’s encroaching waistline?

There are merits and advantages to both decades of flight. I’m not about to begin to tell a reader that the 1950s was perfect for aviation. Watching the above clip might be painful but is it as painful as being poked and probed by TSA officials? That’s your call.

I guess the point of my ramblings is to show that while air travel has advanced considerably, we still have a ways to go. And while more complicated security measures are sure to be enacted, I often yearn for a simpler time. A time when entering a plane wasn’t a pain and your head was filled with wonder not the effects of a migraine produced by bureaucratic red tape.

I guess for now I will have to be content with putting on the occasional rose-colored pair of sunglasses.