N81140's Wingtip Landing Lights

I get a bunch of questions about these, so here's a summary of a lot of emails I've sent to the Grumman Gang on the subject:



> The lights are unbelievablely dim compared to "aircraft"
> bulb-style lights,
> or is it just my aircraft?

If you want to get the deep scoop on those landing lights, call Joe Breuer at ADC Corp. Joe developed and owns the STC for the aftermarket wingtip landing lights for the AA5 aircraft, available via Fletch.

I talked to Joe a couple years ago about his STC (which I am installing next month...) At the time, I asked him to compare and contrast his STC versus the factory AG5-B one.

Man, did he go off on a tirade.

As best I can recall, Joe says he developed the wingtip landing lights for American General, and that AG effectively did not pay him for it. Even worse, he says, they changed the design such that the performance was not acceptable. He says his aftermarket STC performs significantly better than the "factory" setup.

I've found him to be a stand-up guy in all respects, and reputable with the products he sells (he also has STC for aftermarket oil filter and chip detector systems). In addition, I've seen his lights on Mark Mathews' Tiger, and they certainly are good lights (and look really spiff on final -- "Hey, is that a Baron?"). Plus, I've flown an AG5-B and found the factory lighting somewhat lacking.

Draw your own conclusions.

Anyway, if the lighting on the AG bothers you enough (and it would me) then you might consider buying Joe's setup and refitting your AG5-B with the ADC lighting. You'll have it pretty easy, as the wiring is already done and the wingtip already cut. You'll probably have to get it approved via Form 337 (as I'm guessing Joe's STC is only for the AA5-A and -B), but that should be a relatively easy matter.



> Where did you put the switch ? > Is the switch a three way toggle ??

The switch I used is a standard "aviation-grade" (hah!) double-pole, three-position, ON-ON-ON switch. Theoretically, you could buy the same thing from the Aeroelectric Connection (http://www.aeroelectric.com/Catalog/switch/switch.html#switch) part number S700-2-10 for $20.

Since you are not switching two circuits (I made my wingtip lights alternately flash) you'll need a single-pole, three-position, ON-ON-ON switch. However, given that you could theoretically use the same $20 switch but only use one side of it, you might have a better chance finding one of those instead.

I'd recommend you install the switch in the same location as your existing landing light switch. It should fit in that slot just fine, you may have to modify the panel slightly or install washers to keep it in place. Remember, that three-position switch will do the original function PLUS give you a pulse option. No need to keep the original one.

In my case, the wingtip lights were installed to complement the existing nose landing light, I did not remove my nose landing light (the STC requires it, but I got FSDO approval to leave it in). To install the 3-position switch I removed the Big Honker rheostat we call an "instrument panel dimmer" and replaced it with a 2-position ON-OFF switch (I always run full bright anyway). I moved that new switch over to the right closer to the carb heat knob and that left me plenty of room for the 3-position ON-OFF-PULSE (http://www.gatm.com/flying/images/bgibson/bgibson6b.jpg). A nice custom placard from Aircraft Engravers (http://www.engravers.net/) sealed the deal.

If you want the dimmer capabilities, replacing your Big Honker with a solid-state dimmer should give you the same results.

> Also, WHERE did you mount the box ??
> I planned to put the thing under my back seat where the Whelen single
> unit goes... will it interfere with radios, etc ??or Whelen's ?

I mounted the Pulselight box in a tray under my avionics stack (http://www.gatm.com/flying/minimalist.html). It's a small box, and could be mounted just about anywhere you care to make a tray. How about above the glovebox?

Dunno if it will interfere with anything, but it will sure take a lot of extra wiring to put it back there. All the stuff that it has to connect to is under the instrument panel.



Sent: Monday, August 19, 2002 15:36
Subject: RE: Need help with Tiger landing lights

> I'm also considering wingtip landing lights and was told they take
> 8-10 hours to install. Is that others' experience? And how do people
> like the wingtip lights compared to the nose lights?

Maybe I'm a bit slow compared to the rest of the world, but I've got 50 or so hours "invested" in my installation of two ADC wingtip landing lights in my Tiger.

Roundabout steps:
- remove wingtips
- measure (and measure, and measure) and cut out opening
- measure (and measure, and measure) where to install aft bulkhead
- fit aft bulkhead, realize it needs to be modified (it's a barely-cut-to-fit piece of fiberglass)
- measure (and measure, and measure) where to adjust aft bulkhead. Sand or cut down, and start the measuring all over again. Repeat a dozen or more times
- fiberglass in aft bulkhead into wingtip.
- test fit onto airplane. Remove wingtip and cut out aft bulkhead because you just realized that the shape of the wingtip isn't the same as when it's bolted into the airplane
- finally get it right
- follow directions to properly dress and fit lens cover mounting plates
- Realize they suck and do it over again
- trim clear wingtip lamp cover so that it fits properly (it ain't cut-to-fit)
- order a new pair from Fletch and try again
- remove aileron
- remove flap
- remove sump covers
- run power wire from under the dash, to wing spar, out the access covers, down the aft edge of the wing behind the flap, inside the wing past the ailerons, out the wing tip.
- secure wire against chafing all over the place
- reinstall flap
- reinstall aileron
- install switch(es) inside
- install lamp in wingtip
- wire wingtip lamp with proper connectors so you can remove the wingtip later without cutting wires
- reinstall wingtip. Turn on switch and pray that they work.

Just to make life more difficult, I also wired them up with a 3-position switch to a Pulselight system, so that I've got ON-OFF-PULSE capabilities. That required that I replace the Big Honkin Panel Lights Rheostat with an alternate one so that I'd have room for the wingtip switch (I did not remove the factory landing light, instead replacing it with a LoPresti Boom Beam. All 337 approved.)

What do I think? I think it's way cool, if I do say so myself. I get cleared for landing at night from five miles out; controllers see the three lights and think I'm a G-IV. Would I do it again? Only if you were paying me this time. But then, I don't hafta...<grin>