Skylar

About Skylar
Skylar

Woah! This is Skylar. I am THEE Sky Geek. I like planes, trains, and automobiles, but really just planes. I love aviation and anything related to it. If you shop on our site you will see my mug plastered throughout since I am the official mascot. I enjoy talking to Sandy, Otto, and Mach since they share my passion for flight. Researching for news and events and other information that affects our customers is what I can't wait to nose dive into. The sky's the limitless!

Michelin Aviation Tires: A Proven Track Record

While blazing across the sky it is sometimes easy to forget that tires are an integral part of an aircraft. Flight is a precursor to landing and vice versa. Are your tires up to the task of touching down on the tarmac without popping like peeps in a microwave?

SkyGeek has an extensive line of undercarriage products, especially aviation tires. And while there are plenty of great brand names, this post shines the spotlight on Michelin.

Sure we could go into a long exposition of what makes Michelin an outstanding choice when it comes to performance and reliability (How about a long Highlighted History dating back to 1889?), but why do that when a Youtube video can do it with fancy visual fireworks and inspirational music:

In less than 100 words, this clip explains the true might of Michelin. The main message book-ended in the video is that Michelin “helps your business fly” and provides “peace of mind.”

The entire video is a true testament to this claim. For over a century they have acted as pioneers in the aviation industry. Short, medium or long range – their inventory of tires addresses your needs. And it does so by offering several benefits: FOD resistance, fuel savings, less maintenance costs, and eco-friendly technology.

Speaking of technology, Michelin has developed NZG (net zero growth) radial tires that not only reduce cuts and abrasions but these tires possess considerable weight savings as well. This is just one instance where technical expertise and quality manufacturing go hand-in-hand (or should we say, wheel-to-tire?).

And through their numerous partnerships and dedicated experts, they have demonstrated a proven track record of innovation and leadership . Why else would Michelin products be found on space shuttles, commercial aircraft, general aviation, and military vehicles across the globe?

Don’t worry about the rubber. You won’t have to when you choose Michelin.

Clearing Your Web Browser Cache

Knowing whether to clear a cache or not from your web browser is something that is up to a user’s personal preferences. Before you know what that preference is, it would first help to define a cache.

Perhaps you have heard this phrase but are not so tech savvy. A cache can refer to many things, from geography to a collection of belongings. But many times it refers to computers. There are many types of computer caches including CPU and page caches (How Stuff Works’cache article does a great job of explaining a cache’s purpose). Because this post pertains to the SkyGeek website, though, this topic revolves around a web cache.

A web cache is a means of temporarily storing web documents and data so that your computer’s performance is increased. In other words, having a web cache of frequently visited sites reduces the time a web page takes to load. This leads to a more streamlined and user-friendly experience. Thus, convenience is something caching can provide.

SkyGeek understands that routine maintenance of your computer involves deleting old web pages for the sake of freeing up disk space, which would involve clearing the cache of your web browser. You can learn how to do so by visiting our Help Center, (or you can simply continue reading).

Unfortunately, not all web browsers are the same and so you cannot perform this function with a “one-size-fits-all” method. Different operating systems have different methods of clearing web cache.

Fortunately, there’s a way to find out. In order to clear your cache, use this WikiHow Guide, which does an excellent job of not only explaining a cache’s importance, but provides a step-by-step process (conveniently accompanied by screenshots) using various web browsers.

Let’s Get Technical: Data Sheets

By now you must be familiar with the content contained within Material Safety Data Sheets. If not then you haven’t read our MSDS posts close enough. What are you waiting for? We spent a ton of time on those! Moving on…

This post is about another kind of sheet: A technical data sheet.

A technical data sheet (TDS) is a document produced in tandem with a product so that a manufacturer provides the necessary information for its usage. Because of this a TDS is sometimes referred to as a product data sheet (PDS). To make it easier, we’re just going to refer to it as a TDS from here on out.

The format, layout, and design of a TDS are not universal and the length may vary. However, there are usually certain sections that tend to appear across the broad spectrum of existing products. (It’s important to note before we go any further that some products may not even have a TDS. For example, our propeller hats don’t need one and neither do gifts and toys in general. Also, sophisticated electronics, like Garmin GPS and Yaesu transceivers instead have instructional manuals and booklets that provide technical and installation information).

For the most part, a TDS is composed of a number of sections. The following is a list of the most common ones:

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The TDS for Momentive RTV100 Series of sealants contains these features and benefits. This section often comes in bulleted form for easy readability. (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

Description – A brief explanation of what the product is and what it is used for. Often you will find that SkyGeek (not to mention practically every site) draws from this section so that it serves as the description on the actual product page.

Features/Benefits – Sometimes one; sometimes the other; sometimes both. Features are traits that a product possesses. And these features usually translate to benefits when used. For instance, a sealant may have “high temperature performance” which means it can withstand high heat without compromising its effectiveness.

Applications – This is a broad section, but basically it gives instructions on how to handle the product and actually put it into use. Sometimes there is surface preparation involved or temperature and cure time requirements. There can even be information on how to clean-up excess amounts. Application can substitute for “Directions for Use” found on many containers since it is more or less the same.

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The Typical Physical Properties section Of 3M’s Scotch-Weld 847 Adhesive TDS. This is the very essence of a TDS. Notice that there is a disclaimer saying the results are not specific. A consumer should thus always test to see if the product meets specific requirements for an intended application. (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

Physical/Functional/Performance Properties – Another broad section with slightly different name variations. This is perhaps the most technical section in an entire TDS. A few properties that may be mentioned: viscosity, color, net weight, flashpoint, specific gravity, tensile strength, sheer strength, peel strength, cure time, etc. Fortunately, all this information and more is usually presented in chart form. But obviously because a product is made for an intended purpose and because it is composed of a specific combination of materials and chemicals, the extent or length of the chart varies widely.

Storage – This section describes how best to preserve the product so that it does not expire prematurely. By storing a product in a place that is secure and safe from harm, packaging is less likely to be damaged. No leaks or exposure translates to an uncompromised shelf life. This section is also found in an MSDS.

Warranty – Sometimes a manufacturer will honor a faulty product within a given time frame.

Additional Information – Anything left out that hasn’t already been mentioned and does not fit into any of the above sections.

Other parts of a TDS: a date of when the document was created and revised, a disclaimer with legal information, as well as contact information in case there are further questions.

Perhaps the best approach to understanding a TDS is to simply examine several to get a better idea of the extent to which companies are willing to divulge information on a product. I have selected five products from our site with links to their TDS. If the links do not work for whatever reason, you can simply search these products on SkyGeek; another link to their TDS can be found in the descriptions.

Lubri-Bond A and its TDS
Royco 782 and its TDS
PRC-DeSoto P/S 870 Class B and its TDS
Momentive RTV118 and its TDS
3M Scotch-Weld 847 and its TDS

You’ll notice the featured five TDS pertain to chemical-heavy products. In this way they are related to MSDS, documents that are required to be disseminated to users by law and indicate the stringently regulated nature of a product. Certainly a wrench does not automatically call for a TDS and neither does a screw. Sure they have specifications and maybe even a data sheet of some kind but they do not need to be accompanied with written instructions telling someone where to store it or how to apply it. It is not mandatory. Based on this, one can start to see which products correspond to TDS.

Do you think technical data sheets should be a common feature on our site? Let us know on our Facebook page, the comments below, or email us at techsupport@skygeek.com

Please Advise: Painting Your Plane

When it came time to blog about paint, no one wanted to write about it. Sandy and Otto refused, and I didn’t bother asking Mack since, like most, Mack finds writing about paint just as boring as watching it dry on a wall. Don’t we all, Mack…don’t we all.

A major portion of our website involves purchasing paint. In fact that is why we have an entire category dedicated to it. We thought it would be a good idea to provide some pointers when planning a paint job for your plane. So without further delay, here they are:

Step 1: Gather all the right materials
This depends on the extent to which you are painting. Is it a simple touch up job or a full body ordeal? Answering that question will allow you to retrieve the right tools for the task. Quantities will depend on the size of your aircraft. The following is an incomplete list meant to give you a rough checklist of what you may or may not need:

Masking tape
Paint stripper
Pressure washer
Sanding equipment
2-part epoxy filler
Primer
Wooden stirrers (paddles)
Plastic gloves
Scrappers
Face masks
Eye protection
Paint (of course)

Step 2: Remove old paint
In order to paint your aircraft it would be most prudent to get rid of the old. Failing to do so only will lead to another pre-mature paint job (not to mention a less-than-optimal performance from the paint). Inspect the plane for signs of wear. To remove old paint, apply a stripper. This will take care of cracked coatings; spots that are good can simply be sanded. Just be careful not to sand rivet heads as that can compromise the airworthiness of your vehicle. Also, it may take more than one coating of stripper before old paint is completely removed.

Step 3: Protect non-painted surfaces
Make sure to cover with plastic sheets or masking tape areas of the plane that you don’t wish to paint. Fairings can be removed. Plastic parts should be protected against paint remover. This is particularly directed at windows. You certainly don’t want to obstruct visibility and a beautiful view when flying. You also don’t want others to know how careless you are.

Step 4: Assist with paint removal
Once the paint removal has chemically reacted and has naturally stripped old paint use a plastic scrapper to accelerate the process. Then rinse the plane with a hose or a compressed washer so that pesky old paint can be blasted away.

Step 5: Treat corrosion
Once your plane is stripped to the bare metal surface, inspect for areas of corrosion and then treat accordingly. With what? An acid etch and alodine treatment that is best suited to treat aluminum. Apply the acid, let it work itself in, and then rinse thoroughly. Afterwards you are ready to apply the alodine. This will not only provide a coat of corrosion prevention but act as a good adhesion for paint as well.

Step 6: Repair and replace
If fairings, windows, or any other removable parts need to be either repaired or replaced, now is the time to do it. Otherwise, painting your plane and then making repairs may lead to damaging the very thing you are trying to preserve.

Be advised: You may want to paint inspection covers separately, i.e. remove them first and then paint them. This way when inspection rolls around you won’t damage the finish you just applied on your plane.

Step 7: Select the right paint arsenal
Perhaps the most important step. Choosing paint is not as simple as looking at a color and choosing one that looks pretty (although that is part of it). In fact, painting your plane does not involve throwing a bucket of paint and hoping for the best. There is a process and it comes in stages that revolve around applying certain types of coating in a particular sequence.

It is recommended to start with a self-etching primer that is of high-quality. After all, you don’t want to be doing this every couple of years. Proceed to the next phase by introducing your plane to a coat of primer-sealer (usually white). After that, it’s time to apply the actual paint which may require multiple coatings (look for a polyurethane composition). Finally, additional colors may be used if stripes, numbers, or any other sign or symbol is needed.

Be advised: Painting in sections may be the most practical method. Trying to paint an entire plane at once is not advisable for one person to undertake as paint in one area may dry quicker than another. There’s also the issue of overlapping; when this occurs you can expect a rougher finish instead of that coveted smooth coat.

Be advised: Customized templates are available that can provide a paint scheme for you. Once your base coast is dried, these templates can be used to apply preferred styles and designs without worrying of making your own measurements. This will save you time and may prevent any kind of crookedness or miscalculation of the paint scheme. Remember, time is money.

Step 8: Know when to go pro
We all can’t be bothered with painting. And sometimes seeking a professional is the best way to go. The reality is that not everyone is determined to join the Do-It-Yourself crowd. When in doubt you can always go to the nearest aircraft paint shop and get it done.

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*Thanks to Piper Owner Society and Royal Aircraft Services for being primary research sources.

A Charitable Lighthouse

Researching manufacturers and the brands and products they offer is just part of normal operations at SkyGeek. But every once in a while we come across a company that deserves a little more attention.

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Lighthouse for the Blind’s logo. A true vision of charity.

Lighthouse for the Blind (LBH Industries) is one such company.

LHB specializes in producing things such as liquid and office cleaners, repellents, medical products and more. They also manufacture paintings and coatings, such as ECO Sure and So Sure. In examining our Skilcraft line of enamels we found it is a brand that belongs to LBH.

What sets LBH apart from many manufacturers is their business is driven by helping the disabled. The company’s mission is simply this: “To assist individuals who are legally blind maintain dignity and independence by making available employment, education and support services.”

In other words, they are—in a sense—a charity-driven business. That’s just plain cool.

LBH is located in St. Louis and, based on their willingness to create a sustainable quality of life for the blind, they definitely live up to being located in the Heartland. It tugs at the heartstrings to see opportunity provided to those often overlooked in the workforce.

Their corporate video explains perfectly who they are and what they stand for:

As the video says, they produce for many private industries as well as for the government. But it’s their public service particularly to the blind that serves as an exemplar. Low absenteeism and little turnover? That kind of a workforce would benefit any economy.

I am rather impressed by the extent to which the company’s outreach programs support their local community. It’s not as common to find this kind of altruistic behavior in business as one would think. Sure many businesses give to charity. But somehow this goes beyond a simple donation: employing those that may otherwise be ostracized or denied the chance to be productive members of society is to be commended. And their extensive outreach programs only prove the commitment to their overall mission.

Lighthouse for the Blind, SkyGeek takes off its propeller hat and salutes you. Keep shining that beacon of hope for those less fortunate.

In the meantime, this writer is so impressed that he will be sending a donation. Is that something you, the reader, would like to do as well? If you can see the sense in being charitable, go ahead, Make A Donation.

What is a CAGE Code?

Surprise! We have yet another acronym to throw your way.

Okay, so this one may not affect the average customer, but if you are in any way associated with the U.S. government you may find this of interest (and really, who isn’t affected by the government?).

Quite simply, CAGE stands for “Commercial and Government Entity.” This code has a five(5)-digit, alphanumeric composition and serves as a “unique identifier for entities doing or wishing to do business with the Federal Government. The format and character position of the code vary based on country.”

CAGE codes are related to two others, NAICS and DUNS. The DUNS, or Data Universal Numbering System, is required to register with the System for Award Management (SAM) and is one method of receiving a CAGE code. In order to better understand their importance, consider this analogy: “These ID codes are to government contractors what Social Security numbers are to individuals.” For more information on these codes, check out Onvia’s page dedicated to them.

Small businesses doing business with government agencies, such as the Department of Defense, are required to acquire one. Since SkyGeek does have government contracts we do have a CAGE code.

Does anyone out there know our CAGE Code? If you have well-sharpened investigative skills you have no doubt located it on our About Us page.

So what or who is responsible for supplying suppliers with a CAGE code? America’s combat logistics support agency – the Defense Logistics Information Agency (DLA) .

For an extensive discussion on the subject, read the DLA’s CAGE code FAQ.

Well, that’s it for now. Until any further changes or pertinent information is found, consider this CAGE closed.

Lucky Landing?

It looks like luck came just in time for St. Patrick’s Day.

One of our SkyGeek sleuths (who wishes to remain anonymous) sent us word of this freakish form of fortune.

John Frost, a 49-year-old skydiver, was hit by a Cessna at a small runway in Tampa, Florida. The plane was piloted by 87-year-old Shannon Trembly. Photographer Tim Telford captured the collision. Miraculously both Frost and Trembly not only survived but managed to sustain only minor injuries.

Here’s a video clip from NBC News reporting on the incident:

Ironically this incident occurred around March 8th, the designated date for Safety Day sponsored by the USPA (United States Parachute Association).

Thankfully no one got seriously hurt. If anything this kind of fortune is a reminder that grounds us in reality—as long as a person is in the air there is always the danger of falling in an unintended way or crashing into others that aspire to fly as well.

We can’t stress this enough: STAY SAFE OUT THERE!

Remember, you don’t need the luck of the Irish to obtain this. All you need is precaution, alertness, and preparation…And perhaps the right supplies. (Hey, that’s a part of preparation, right?)

What is RoHS?

Pop quiz: What is RoHS? Anyone? Anyone?

Not knowing can leave you zapped of intellectual self-esteem.

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An example of RoHS found on a SkyGeek product page. Sometimes it is found in a chart, sometimes in a bulleted list. Either way, the information should be there.

As spring approaches, more natural light awaits. But your aircraft will always need lamps and bulbs. Hey, regulations are regulations.

RoHS is one of what seems like a billion acronyms associated with aviation. It stands for “Restriction of Use of Hazardous Substances.” It’s a directive. Anyone in the military should know about directives. An average Joe should understand that directives are set(s) of instructions handed out by an authority. If you have a boss, then you know the basic directive: Do your work as best as you can.

This directive, however, relates to the dangers of certain hazardous substances. Wait, “hazardous?” Oh boy, ANOTHER article about hazmat? No, not really.

Rather than include these substances, a product with a “RoHS: Yes” does NOT include a list of items. A common misconception is that this only refers to being lead-free. However there are other substances that are excluded from the manufacture of a product when in accordance to RoHS.

A representative from 3M’s European branch of operations succinctly explains what RoHS means:

Basically the 3M representative runs through the RoHS Compliance Defintion (he seems to be reading off a cue card).

So next time you are searching for light bulbs or electronic equipment and you come across a product that is RoHS compliant, just know that it is safer than in years and decades past.

Enabling Cookies

There’s a saying: The squeaky wheel gets the grease. Well, what happens when wheels can’t move at all?

Unfortunately, many customers have encountered issues with our site. Sometimes we get complaints that revolve around “Not being able to add items to cart.” Apparently the virtual wheels on our shopping cart will not squeak.

But have no fear – we have heard the squeaks nonetheless.

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Navigation path for enabling cookies on Internet Explorer: Tools>Internet Options>Privacy>Advanced>Accept>OK>OK. Thanks to WikiHow for the assistance. (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

Not being able to add items to cart is a trouble-shooting issue that is possibly caused by cookies being disabled. No, we’re not talking about the kind of cookies you dunk in milk.

In a cybernetic context, cookies refer to small pieces of data that sites use and store so that when users upload that site again, certain information is remembered. This includes records of a user’s activity such as log-in information or—you guessed it—items in a shopping cart. The advantage of these web or browser cookies is to save time and make a more user-friendly experience.

Your inability to add items to cart may be remedied by adjusting the settings on your web browser so that cookies are enabled.

Just to clarify, a web browser is the means by which you use the Internet. Examples of web browsers: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, and Google Chrome.

In order to adjust your settings so that cookies are allowed, the following is a set of instructions to use on your particular web browser. Since all customers don’t use one web browser we have instructions for each of the most common ones.

Rather than re-write a long list of instructions that have already been published (hey, we’re busy taking orders) we figured we would instead go straight to the source and provide links to tech support from the web browsers themselves:

Internet Explorer 7 and Internet Explorer 8
Google Chrome
Mozilla Firefox
Safari
Opera

Another thing to remember is that problems relating to cookies can result from having an older version of a web browser. That is why it may be time to upgrade. For instance, you might want to install Internet Explorer 9 instead of your current Internet Explorer 8.

Think of it this way, if websites are constantly updating for the purposes of compliance and security, then it would be wise to do the same. That way both your computer and heavy traffic sites are in sync.

The Space Above, The Space Within

When we think of space it is always with a tilted head upward. Look toward the stars, they are the future of exploration.To some it is the “Great Beyond.” Undiscovered planets and the potential resources they may provide are the things of imagination and science fiction.

When we think about space and space exploration, certain keywords come to mind. Solar systems. Black holes. Supernovas. Constellations. Stephen Hawking.

And of course, NASA.

NASA is as American as baseball or apple pie. It’s an institution, a symbol for forward thinking, advanced technology with a scope that goes beyond our borders. It is the Promised Land for countless nerds, geeks, and technophiles in search of etching their name in the Annals of History.

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The Official NASA insignia. Unofficially, it’s a symbol for forward thinking and progress.

While this post is not an exploration about the agency’s history, there are plenty of NASA Facts out there in cyberspace, including some from Buzzle.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) was founded in the late 1950s. One of the primary reasons the agency was established: to beat Communist Russia and win the Space Race. Fortunately, there is no more Cold War. Instead, the only competition between Russia and the U.S. is now viewed for sport during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

But while most recognize NASA and its prolific space program, their research into landing on the moon, Mars, or anywhere else has benefited and continues to benefit us here on Earth.

Through each technological advancement humankind has taken one giant leap into a better tomorrow. NASA’s contributions toward that cause are certainly astronomical.

Don’t believe me? Think about it. In order to build rockets and space shuttles that will withstand immense forces and pressures not normally experienced at ground level, you have a staff of certifiable geniuses constructing the means to defy gravity, shielding precious cargo, and catapulting people outside of an atmosphere that sustains life. And then you have to replicate conditions on Earth in these man-made structures and have people live in zero gravity. Yeah, that’s not impressive (sarcasm).

Sadly, not all those that govern our country consider NASA’s accomplishments as practical or as worthy of the praise that its reputation once garnered when Neil Armstrong uttered those famous words to Mission Control back in 1969.

In recent years, the government has decided to impose cutbacks on NASA’s funding. Apparently space exploration is not as much of a priority as it was in decades past. Trips to Mars will remain, for now, a distant dream that reality cannot support.

Perhaps those in favor of slashing funds would be well advised to search the confines of their immediate surroundings and realize the agency’s influence is not beyond reach. In fact, the by-products of NASA’s interstellar escapades are ironically put to use in our everyday lives. Better tech equates to a better quality of life. That is a fact you can bank on and to which a definitive return on investment cannot be measured.

To demonstrate the value of their efforts, here’s a fragment of products that we can thank NASA for helping to invent:

Water Filters
Cordless Tools(some of which we sell)
Scratch-Resistant Lenses
Shoe Insoles
Camera Phones

According to the Buzzle article from which this partial list is derived, there are over “1300 commercialized NASA inventions that have benefited the world.

Of course such technological innovations are major players in the aviation industry as well. Modern aircraft operate much better due to “spin-off” technology from NASA’s research and development initiatives.

Absolutely fascinating.

And while grand stories of public heroics about the agency are as numerous as the stars, personal ones are just important to our national dialogue. I didn’t know much about my grandfather, who passed away when I was 12-years-old. But I recently discovered that my grandfather helped design and test the actual battery used to run the spacecraft used in NASA’s Gemini Project, which ran from 1962-1966. Here is a man that didn’t graduate from MIT—he  fought in World War II and didn’t even finish high school— but in his own way contributed to space exploration. He is among those in the Annals of History.

It’s amazing how NASA has inspired and influenced us. ..

There’s a running joke at SkyGeek Headquarters that we need a link from NASA to our site, but when I look around with my plastic, scratch resistant lens glasses at my bottle that contains filtered water, I know that we are in many ways already connected.

The love for making the unknown known is at the heart of NASA’s mission. And exploring and discovering the nature of the universe is something that is incalculable in transforming the lives of us all. Now let me ask you this: Isn’t that worth something beyond budgetary constraints?