Ricky's Custom Cessna 185
I had the privilege of meeting Ricky Davidson and his nice wife several years back. Unfortunately, at that time, his Cessna 185 left a lot to be desired. He was in Santa Maria CA. for the Cessna 185/180 fly-in and the engine had developed an oil leak. One thing lead to another and Ricky decided it was time to fix up the 185. First on the list was yanking out the tired IO-520 and shoe-horning a monster IO-550 with a new three blade prop. During the same period of time Ricky elected to have the annual inspection completed via Avionics West and to add an array of avionics. We fabricated custom panels for both sides, added the S-Tec 55 A/P system, speed brakes and a host of other equipment.
That was the last we saw of Ricky and his bride for a couple of years. He called occasionally to ask questions about possible upgrades. In late 1999, Ricky called and placed an order for the Garmin GNS 430, Sandel HSI and the King gyros to make it all happen. They flew out later (after we had equipment) and dropped the aircraft off for installation. We went over the lay-out with Ricky as to where every switch would go and just exactly what he could expect the new equipment to do. At that time he supplied us with a JPI instrument which was to be installed at the same time. The installation went exactly as planned. Ricky flew commerical back to SMX to take a look at the avionics stack after we were finished and to start an "Owner Assisted" annual inspection next door with Coastal Valley Aviation. Ricky is an A&P also, so this cut his annual cost down.
Now, at this point most pilots would just jump into the aircraft, fly around and come back with a list of problems related to the new equipment we just installed. After all, if the pilot can't figure it out, there must be something wrong with it?? This wasn't the case with Ricky. His background is commerical aviation, mainly as a captain for United Airlines. For two days, Ricky sat in the cockpit with the power cart plugged in learning the systems. As a result of this, he knew how his modern avionics package would respond in the air BEFORE ever leaving the ground. In fact, I had to research a few of his questions at that time. During his test flight, he knew exactly what he was doing and what to expect. Outside of the JPI, there weren't any problems.
Rickys Cessna 185 has just about every conceiveable modification known to man and an avionics package that has more features than the "heavy aircraft" he used to fly. He and his wife have always been a pleasure to work with and just fun people to be around. What's next on his avionics wish list? He didn't say but I think "Real-Time" weather on the Garmin 430 will excite him.