Grumman AA5A Cheetah
Tail Number: N321JB
Submitted by: John Tringali
I've been a pilot all my life. I started at 15 as a cadet in the Civil Air Patrol back in 1986 up in Buffalo, NY. I started taking lessons in 1987 as a 15 year old, and moved through CFII-ME by 1993. I went to Embry-Riddle in 1989 and then the USAF in 1993 when I graduated as an air traffic control officer (medical SNAFU kept me out of flight school until I got it fixed a few years later). I got to UPT in 1997 and started flying C-17s until I retired in 2014. I kept up my CFI all those years, got an ATP, and stayed in the civil game while also flying military. Currently I'm teaching students at KDYB.
My Panel (Before and After)
• Aspen Pilot Pro PFD (HSI, RMI, A/S, Alt, TAS, VVI, T/C, AHARS)
• Garmin GNS-430 WAAS (GPS1, Com 1, Nav 1)
• Garmin Aera 510 (GPS2, XM WX)
• Electronic Instruments FP-5L Fuel Flow & Managment computer w/EGT
• Icom Com IC-A200 (Com 2)
• Narco Nav 12/GS (Nav 2)
• Narco Transponder/encoder AT 150 TSO
• PS Engineering Audio Panel/MB w/4 Place Intercom
• Century I Wing Leveler/Tracker (Slaved to GPS or Nav)
My Aspen Experience
I first bought a plane in 2009 and had a conundrum: fast plane with bad avionics or slow plane with great avionics. I bought a Grumman Cheetah because I needed a 4 place plane with my kids & wife, but since I fly it like a car (all weather, day/night, etc.) I didn't want a lousy mechanical attitude indicator and adjusting a DG every 15 minutes is unacceptable. I first installed the Aspen VFR unit, then saved up for a Garmin 430W and simultaneously upgraded to the Pilot Pro 1000. Best investment ever. The Aspen is so well built, on the first flight, returning with my family from the avionics shop, I had to fly an RNAV approach to LPV mins because our airfield was 400' overcast, rain, with 30 knots of crosswind at altitude and calm winds on the surface. Having never flown the system before, I could figure it out easily enough and fly dead center down to mins. Having a ground track indication, wind barb, and AI fidelity to allow me to fly 1 degree pitch changes makes hard IFR a breeze. I've convinced everyone on my airfield that I teach to get the cheapest WAAS navigator they can, and pair it to an Aspen instead of getting the big MFD GPS units and flying a tiny mechanical AI with crappy DG. Aspen is the best product! I'd get a GPS unit with no moving map if the Aspen were in the panel.