Top Gear

Fly-Tex sunshade

Sunshades come in all shapes and sizes, none of them much use on an aircraft. But Fly-Tex has come up with one that will keep you cool in the cockpit…

From £145 from Cambria Covers

Top Gear Sunshade
View of the sunshade on the canopy when open

Low-wing, bubble canopy aircraft are never particularly comfortable in the summer months as they inevitably turn into greenhouses.

I’ve experimented over the years with slap-on sun shades, which utilise static to hold them on, as well as an extendable children’s car window sunshade, which often drops off and doesn’t cover a huge area.

Given this run of limited effectiveness, it was high time to try out a semi-permanent solution.

Fly-Tex, which at first I assumed would be coming from the USA, is actually a German company manufacturing its own fabric sun shade and supplied in the UK by Cambrai Covers.

Arriving at my front door was a giant, yellow Toblerone-shaped box, which contained inside the aluminium mounting rail, fabulously soft fabric sunshade and installation instructions.

The Fly-Tex system uses locking suction cups at either end of the rail, which offer much better hold than simple press-on cups, but without going to RAM mount levels of insane strength.

Top Gear Sunsahde
Canopy and rail laid out on the wing

Before you ask, “What makes this semi-permanent when it works with suction cups?”, you need to consider the installation.

The soft aluminium rail comes straight, which, if fitted to your curving canopy, will result in the centre of the rail being quite far off the surface of the canopy.

So, you need to gently bend the rail before you install it to match the precise shape of your canopy.

As the instructions will tell you, do this with the utmost care, because it could be very easy to give it a bit too much welly and overstretch or even damage the rail.

Fly-Tex recommend doing it over your knee, which actually works quite effectively.

Bend a little, place it on your canopy and see where, and how much, you still need to shape it. Go slowly – and do it incrementally as there is no ‘undo’ button in real life!

We actually found that the length of the sunshade was slightly too much, but the way the rail fits to the suction cup ends means that if you can carefully cut it down to fit the right size without any issues refitting it.

 

Top Gear
The Fly-Tex cover offers plenty of shade from the summer sun!

Extending and retracting the shade is done by means of a 20p-sized thumb screw, however, the receiving metal slider inside the rail is of sufficiently square shape to make extension and retraction far from smooth.

Not a big problem; it can easily be rounded off with a grinding point on a drill. If you’re in a tight canopy to headset situation (such as in my RV-6), then an exaggerated bend in the rail might help.

To sum it up, if you’re after a good quality sunshade, do some measurements of head height, canopy length,  and definitely consider Fly-Tex.

Over the past few years I’ve gone through four different sunshade solutions – most of which were not designed for aviation.

Maybe this one will stand the test of time!

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