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?