John Webster's Piper Dakota
John and I have been friends for nearly a decade. He is one of the most understanding human beings on the earth, he even tolerates me. Not only does John have the powerful Piper Dakota, he's the proud owner of one of the nicest Archers around. Even the Archer is fully IFR equipped with King KX-155's and a S-Tec System 20 autopilot. It's always fun calling John's office. His secretary is from Georgia has as you would imagine, has a neat southern accent. Being from the south, it's nice to hear someone who sounds like me. John and his wonderful wife on the other hand are from England and sound like it too.
Oh, I guess I should talk some about the Dakota. Over the years Avionics West has installed the King transponder, KX-155 and sorted other goodies in the machine. Finally John took the big plunge and had me order up the Sandel along with the Garmin GNS 430. We sent John and his wife packing to England and started the project. Dave Bost, one of our senior installers, started taking out the avionics and wondered if John would be interested in custom panels. We constantly update Cessna and Mooney panels; what would it be like to update a Dakota panel? We wondered would it look professional and be worth the cost. Finally Dave got in touch with John in England and John gave us the OK to "do whatever you like and what colors you desire". Dave liked this!
We had to make panel overlays because the original Piper panel is structural by design and can not be cut out. No problem, Dave just made custom overlays. These panels took two weeks to make and are all hand-made, the American way. Next we installed the King KG-102A gyro system and the Sandel EHSI. An external power supply had to be mounted to supply power to the Garmin GNS 430. The Sandel displays the GNS 430, #2 nav as a RMI needle, the KN-64 DME and the marker lamps out of the KMA-24 audio panel. John decided to add a back up vacuum DG just in case the Sandel went dark, a wise choice in my opinion. What's next on the list? My guess is John is saving his change to purchase a S-Tec System 30 to make his Dakota the ultimate fixed gear Piper.