"Simplified Version" Will
Be Offered and Will Cost Less
Here's the view looking over the nosewheel of a trike
fitted with a Stratomaster flight information system, offering
all instrumentation in a single pod. The Stratomaster unit includes
computer chip memory for your flight log, storing information
(such as date and time of takeoff, duration of flight, and maximum
speed and altitude reached) on up to 240 flights, as well as a
wealth of other flight information and features.
Lucian Bartosik of Aerial Adventure is selling a new flight
information system (FIS) loaded with features and functions. The
instrument's claim to fame may well be its accuracy. Bartosik
claims the new flight information system has "literally,
scientific lab accuracy," having been developed in a "high-tech
Produced by MGL Avionics in England, the Stratomaster flight
information system offers a rather daunting list of features/functions,
including (but not limited to):
* Altimeter - Zero-to-40,000-foot doubly temperature-compensated
altimeter, displaying altitude in increments of 1 foot or 1 meter
(3.28 feet). The altimeter can be user-calibrated, and has a 7.5-foot
static resolution and 1-foot dynamic resolution, according to
Aerial Adventure. "The dynamic resolution (with the aircraft
moving) has been made possible by mathematically evaluating the
turbulence created around the aircraft," Aerial Adventure
says. "The unit uses a micromachined silicon diaphragm sensor
and an absolute vacuum reference of the highest stability and
accuracy." The altimeter has QNH (an international abbreviation
for "mean sea level") and QFE (international abbreviation
for "above ground level") settings. "The QNH setting
can be shown in millibars or inches of mercury," Aerial Adventure
* Airspeed indicator (ASI) or true airspeed (TAS) -
Displays your airspeed from 16 to 200 mph. User calibration is
possible to account for Pitot tube placement.
* Tachometer - With a range up to 9,999 rpm, it's "suitable
for any engine," Aerial Adventure notes, "even with
an odd number of pulses per revolution. Pickups are from Rotax
ignition, magnetos, via capacitive coupling from spark-plug lead
or from IR reflective sensors (direct from the prop, for example)."
* Water/engine temperature gauge - Displays water/engine
temperature in degrees Celsius or degrees Fahrenheit. Uses a Rotax
sender. Calibrated against a laboratory thermometer.
* Glide slope ratio indicator - Displays your glide
slope from 1-to-1 to 99-to-1, "This display is shown when
the instrument detects you are gliding," Aerial Adventure
says. "Instantaneous calculation of your forward speed versus
vertical speed is provided. Uses true airspeed (TAS) for maximum
* Climb ratio indicator - Shows the ratio of climb to
forward movement. This is useful in determining the best rate
of climb versus the best angle of climb performance of your ultralight,
according to Aerial Adventure.
* Takeoff distance measurement - "This establishes
your ultralight's takeoff distance in meters to clearing the standard
50-foot obstacle," the company says. "This is a very
useful feature for aircraft designers, and also for owners who
want to optimize their ultralight's performance. This feature
is also used to optimize climb performance if you have an adjustable
propeller. In this case, the unit is used to measure the forward
air distance required to gain 50 feet of altitude."
* Density altitude measurement - "This secondary
altimeter shows the density altitude at your current location
taking pressure altitude and ambient temperature into account,"
Aerial Adventure says. "This, in turn, can be used to calculate
your ultralight's takeoff distance for current local conditions."
* Stopwatch - Can be used as a flight leg timer, or
for competitions, according to Aerial Adventure. Functions provided
are start/stop and reset. Range is 99 hours, 59 minutes.
* Air-distance-made-good trip counter - "This is
a resettable 'trip counter' based on TAS and time," Aerial
Adventure says. "The instrument can be set up to automatically
reset the air distance counter at the start of a flight."
* Remaining fuel display - Uses a standard low-cost
automotive float level sender (not included in the Stratomaster's
price). "The instrument has a calibration procedure that
recognizes the fuel tank shape and fuel capacity," Aerial
Adventure notes. "This results in direct and accurate readout
of remaining fuel in liters, or U.S. or Imperial gallons."
* Fuel flow display - This feature uses a fuel flow
sender (not included in the basic price of the Stratomaster unit).
This sender can also be used to calculate remaining fuel (if you
haven't installed a fuel level sender). "In this case,"
Aerial Adventure says, "you can enter your current fuel tank
level in liters, or U.S. or Imperial gallons, and the instrument
will calculate your remaining fuel."
Had enough features/functions yet? Well, we're not done yet
- there are more. The Stratomaster flight information system also
* Air distance range - "The two probably most-useful
displays (if fuel flow and remaining fuel features are available)
are air distance range and bingo fuel time estimates, based on
current performance," Aerial Adventure points out. "Air
distance range gives calculated range based on current TAS speed,
fuel flow and fuel remaining. Bingo time estimate gives remaining
engine running time on available fuel based on fuel flow and fuel
* Ambient temperature - An accurate semiconductor sender
for this feature is included in the Stratomaster's price,
according to Aerial Adventure.
* Hourmeter - Hobbs meter records up to 9,999 hours
and 59 minutes, and is presettable to current engine time.
* Engine maintenance counter - This presettable counter
counts down engine time. "It can be used for maintenance
tasks, such as regularly replacing spark plugs, etc.," Aerial
* Automatic flight detection - Automatically detects
when you're airborne. However, it is also possible to set the
instrument to record flights based on manual start/stop only,
according to Aerial Adventure.
* Flight duration - Indicates duration of current flight
from takeoff or manual start-of-flight input.
* Time of day - Displays current time of day in hours
and minutes. This feature can be used to display Coordinated Universal
Time for pilots flying across time zones.
* Flight log - "Every flight is stored in a log
for later retrieval," Aerial Adventure explains. "The
log contains up to 240 flights. Each flight stores date and time
of takeoff, duration of flight, and maximum speed and altitude
* Instructor/Lesson mode - The instrument can be set
up to record in the internal logbook stored in its memory "lessons"
rather than individual flights. In this mode of the flight log
feature, a log entry stores a lesson, even if it's made up of
multiple flights. Each lesson can be stored under a student number.
"Lessons are subject to a number of criteria for accumulation
of time," the company says. "Refer to the instruction
manual for further details and options."
* Voltmeter - Displays current system voltage. "This
is useful in checking for charging/overcharging of batteries,
etc.," Aerial Adventure says.
* Barometer - "A barometer has been included to
show local atmospheric pressure in millibars or inches of mercury,"
the company says. "This barometer is a precision instrument,
with a range of 200 to 1,200 millibars."
Power-supply protection is provided via "a fast Tranzorb
to prevent destruction by spikes caused by inductive loads,"
the company says. "Two independent 'watchdogs' are provided
to detect any software malfunction (software crashes) and facilitate
The unit can operate for about 18 hours on a 9-volt PP3 alkaline
battery if the display backlight is disconnected, according to
Aerial Adventure. (There is a setting on the rear of the unit
for disconnecting the backlight.) "The unit can continue
to operate down to about 7 volts," the company claims. "Normally,
the unit will be connected to either 12-volt or 24/28-volt aircraft
power supplies." It is possible to use a 9-volt battery as
emergency backup power for the flight information system, according
to Aerial Adventure. "This requires the installation of a
simple two-diode decoupling bridge," the company explains.
(Details on the required wiring are in the instruction manual.)
For the Stratomaster's dimensions, Aerial Adventure lists:
224 by 64 millimeters (8.8 by 2.5 inches), with a mounting depth
(including connectors and wiring) of 65 mm (2.6 inches). Panel
cutout is 204 by 54 mm (approximately 8 by 2.1 inches). Weight
of the Stratomaster FIS is listed at 450 grams (15 3/4 ounces).
"The current U.S. dollar price of the Stratomaster flight
information system for orders direct from the factory is $479
plus shipping and insurance," Aerial Adventure says. Any
additional taxes or customs duties that may apply are not included
in this price, the company notes. Bartosik indicates a simplified
(and less costly) version of the Stratomaster flight information
system will be available in the U.S. by the time you read this,
at a price expected to be "less than $400."
"This instrument is capable of far more than we have the
space to describe here," Bartosik concludes. Contact Aerial
Adventure (below) for further information and details.
- Buzz Chalmers
Info sheet: free. CD-ROM manual: $3. Aerial Adventure, 2916-B
Old Clarksville Pike, Dept. UF, Hopkinsville, KY 42240. Phone:
(270) 881-1369 * e-mail: