Avionics News November 2015 - 69
Jerry Gordon converted
a Volkswagen bus to
a traveling avionics
shop when he owned
his first avionics shop
in Plymouth, Michigan.
Gordon used it for service
calls to the Detroit
avionics shop, so I contacted the owner and arranged
We made a verbal deal to build and operate a new
shop. I wish it would have been in writing, as we later
disagreed on the details of the agreement. It involved
part ownership of the avionics department. It was a nice
place to work, however, as I was given an entire hangar
for the shop. I drove our little golf cart to the main office
one day and parked by a Citation jet with a few people
talking in a group nearby, which included John Travolta
and Olivia Newton John.
Now, the new thing was Loran-C for boats. I reviewed
a small, self-contained model, and wondered about using one in airplanes. They were so new and intriguing;
I proceeded to contact my Federal Aviation Administration inspector for discussion about installing one in an
airplane. He told me as long as the installation met the
requirements set forth in the regulations, he would approve it. The size of the Loran-C was the same as the
Narco Mark 12. I was able to slide the unit in a Narco
dust cover, which was mounted properly. I performed
the G-force tests on the mounting and wrote the 337
form. The FAA got wind of what I was doing and immediately told our inspector there would be no boat radios
mounted in the airplanes. By this time, I had submitted
the form to our inspector, who told me he wouldn't approve it. I reminded him he had said he would approve
it if it was done according to the regulations, and he
reluctantly gave me the approval of what I think was the
first Loran-C in a small general aviation aircraft.
I was so proud of the accomplishment that I wrote the
story for Private Pilot Magazine, and they bought it. This
was when Monte Mitchell, the president of the Aircraft
Electronics Association, called and told me what a great
technical writer I was. I was embarrassed but got over
it when he wanted me to write for Avionics News. This
was the start of a series of articles called "The Technician's Notebook."
When I approached the owner regarding part ownership in the shop, he developed selective memory. I was
not happy, so I decided to build my own shop. I had a
little cash saved to buy the test equipment and inventory from a previous shop. The owner died, and I made
a deal with his widow. Looking over the area, San Jose
was appealing. Reid-Hillview Airport had more than
600 aircraft based there and only one avionics shop.
I thought there were enough aircraft to support two
shops, so we moved to San Jose and built another one.
It was good to have a shop of my own again. I rented
a nice office with enough space for a sales office and
had bench space for repairs. No hangar was available,
so our installations took advantage of the California
weather and were done on the ramp by our back door.
When inclement weather approached, we used a set of
four vertical poles cemented in four buckets with a tarp
over head. It worked fine but was not necessary most
of the time.
I had no problem with having another shop on the
airport. Most of my customers welcomed a choice, and
I welcomed the business.
This was during a time when computers became
necessary for any business. I bought a color computer
from Radio Shack, telling my wife I better get with this
technology before it gets too far advanced for me to
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