I’ve been doing a lot of PA-46 recurrent and initial training lately at KJSO, and with the Texas temperatures, there’s one device that has received LOTS of favorable comments from my customers: a 110v Air Conditioner. It has been so nice to hook up the air conditioner while ground school is being conducted, and then when it is time to fly, the inside of the Malibu is cold-soaked and much more comfortable on these hot days.
I must give credit to Dr. David Coats for building this device. Dr. Coats is a wonderful craftsman, past president of MMOPA, and a long-time Malibu owner. If you know Dr. Coats at all, you know he is extremely good with mechanical devices, and has a penchant for coming up with neat things to make flying easier and better. This is his creation.
It is nothing more than a 110v window A/C unit attached to a wooden, rollable cart, but it works wonderfully. Here’s some considerations in case you want to build one yourself:
Hose: Get a really good, commercial grade hose that will stand up to the rigors of regular use. Dr. Coats paid about $500 for this hose, but it is the quality that can be found at major airports for use with the airliners.
Metal ducting: Just about any metal shop can help you build the ducting. If you are really frugal, you could probably adapt something found at the hardware store.
Wooden frame: You will want rollers and a flat top. We throw all kinds of stuff on the top, and it protects the unit well. The rollers make it easy to move around the hangar.
Return duct: It will work MUCH better with a return air duct.
Foam grommet: I’m not sure what to call the “grommet”, but this is the fabric lined foam pad that fits into the space provided when the upper door is lifted. The intake and return vents simply slide through holes cut into the foam.
Extra hose: Have some extra hose on the outlet. Then it can be thrown up to the front of the airplane and it ensures the cockpit gets cool air, and aids in circulation.
One thing is for sure…now is the time to start this project, if you are so inclined. The summer is coming and soon you really wish you had one of these! I think the whole device can be made with new materials for less than $1,000 and if you find used materials, you can probably do it for even less. I hope this helps you!