We gain many new skills when we build an airplane. The freedom of doing it yourself and learning is what Experimental aviation is all about. But for many of us, there’s a point where we would like a quicker and easier path to a finished product. Also, some processes are beyond the realm of our skill set, or we don’t have the equipment to produce professional-looking results. Good examples of this are interior panels, seats, and flooring. For these items you might want a plusher look and feel than bare aluminum, and there are plenty of sources that can help.
In addition to numerous third-party vendors, some kit manufacturers, such as RANS, Sonex, and Zenith, offer seats, side panels, and other interior components as options. Van’s Aircraft includes seat cushions as standard equipment in the RV-10 and -12. Nice as the Oregon Aero seats and seat cushions in the RV-10 kit may be, some builders and pilots are looking for something more. In a plane with the size and performance of the RV-10, it’s easy to understand why you might want an interior that’s similar to what you might find in a Cirrus or other high-end certificated aircraft. That niche is filled by Aerosport Products.
Aerosport Products’ modern facility is located in the 200-year-old village of Canal Winchester, just 60 nautical miles east of Dayton Ohio, “the birthplace of aviation.”
Aerosport seats and center console installed in Rob Hickman’s RV-10. Rob is founder of EFIS manufacturer Advanced Flight Systems.
Aerosport Products was originally started in 1988. Founder Geoff Combs was a competitive aerobatic RC pilot, and this passion developed into designing and producing competition-quality composite radio control aircraft and accessories. After leaving behind the RC hobby, Geoff’s business evolved into Aerosport Modeling & Design, a broader design, engineering, and prototype facility serving aerospace and consumer product companies.
Not forgetting his love for aviation, in 1994 Geoff met Ed Gillespie, a retired 30-year veteran and chief test pilot for Rockwell International. Geoff helped Ed make appearance models for some private four-place single-engine jets. Over the next few years, Ed started building an RV-9. Once the -9 was completed, Geoff flew several times with Ed. Compelled with this catalyst, Geoff completed his private pilot lessons started years ago, purchased a Piper Challenger, and picked up an IFR rating.
Seat manufacturing is CAD 3D designed, then CAD 2D flattened to pattern the material, then sewn back to finished 3D for an exact fit to the foam and backing.
Then in 2007 Geoff began to construct an RV-10. During the build, he used his modeling skills and resources to design and make parts for his RV-10, and he posted the results on the online builder’s forums. The first was a carbon fiber instrument panel. Other builders saw his posts and started asking if they could purchase one, and that was the rebirth of Aerosport Products in 2009. From there Geoff started to sell and produce all of the items that were put into his own RV-10.
Molded carbon fiber panels ready for cutting to install the chosen instruments, switches, and vents.
When I asked Geoff about his company and products, he responded with a passion. “Almost all of the Aerosport items are additions to the RV-10 and do not replace stock parts. We try to make accessories and other items that really turn the RV-10 into a very desirable aircraft to own, fly, and travel in. We offer five different instrument panels that can accommodate just about every avionics layout possible for the RV-10. We also offer two different panel layouts for the RV-7 and RV-9.”
Aerosport Products has six employees, including Geoff. His son-in-law, Zac Holcomb, handles sales and service. Laurel Combs, Geoff’s wife, does accounting, and Jason Anderson is operations manager. Also on staff are Ting Nyuoph, sewing specialist, and casting specialist John Adams.
Geoff Combs’ beautiful RV-10 has served as the test bed for Aerosport’s instrument panel, seats, and other interior products.
In addition to carbon fiber instrument panels and other obvious interior upgrades like side panels, center consoles, carpet, headliners, overhead consoles, and seats, the company makes many smaller items. Things like door handles, cup holders, seat levers, aluminum air vents, custom switches, engine mount covers, cowl pin covers, etc. provide the perfect finishing touches to an RV-10. The end result is a level of attention to detail that is more likely to be found in a luxury automobile than a typical homebuilt aircraft.
For more information visit www.aerosportproducts.com.