Pilot, February 2001.)
LoPresti Boom Beam
It's hard to think of a light bulb as "high
tech," but in fact the new Boom Beam landing light system
from LoPresti Speed Merchants is just that. One of the biggest
problems with conventional incandescent and halogen landing lights
is that normal vibration from our piston engines tends to quickly
break their filaments, resulting in burned-out bulbs. Bulb replacements
can run from about $25 to triple figures. Most frustrating, there
is no guarantee that a new bulb will last any particular length
of time. It might last for the first 50 hours or maybe for the
first 10 minutes. Regardless, when it breaks, both pieces are
LoPresti claims that its new High Intensity Discharge
Xenon system is six times brighter than a conventional landing
light, which appears to be true. But what's most impressive is
the bulb life. The company warranties the bulb and all components
in the system for five years. ...
The reflector is about the same size as a conventional
bulb, so no airframe modification is required. Inside the reflector
is a glass tube filled with mercury and xenon gases. A pair of
electrodes in the tube applies voltage to the gases, causing them
to glow brightly. The light is whiter than incandescent lights.
It actually looks rather blue—like the headlights on new high-end
automobiles, which use the same technology. In addition to the
bulb and reflector, the system includes a starter, which is mounted
near the bulb. A ballast can be mounted elsewhere, typically on
I've been flying the Boom Beam on my Beech A36 Bonanza
since March 2000, and we also have one installed in AOPA's Millennium
Mooney sweepstakes airplane. In both cases, the system has performed
flawlessly. Because of the virtually unlimited bulb life, I tend
to leave the light on continuously below 3,000 feet or anytime
I'm descending to an airport. A nice side benefit is the miniscule
current draw for the Boom Beam. The light draws about 3 amps;
the ammeter needle doesn't even wiggle when I turn it on, and
I no longer get the "low volts" annunciator when the
light is on during taxi. A conventional bulb typically draws 8
or more amps.
My installation came with the focused reflector,
which intensely lit up a narrow beam ahead of the airplane. I
have since replaced the focused reflector with a flood reflector.
It's an appropriate name because now the system completely lights
the entire width of the runway. With the flood reflector, the
light is less intense, but actually provides better overall lighting
of the runway or taxiway. Some owners with two lights have elected
to install both the focused and the flood reflectors, giving the
best of both worlds. From a safety standpoint, the flood reflector
seems to be more easily seen by those on the ground and in the
air. In my mind, the extra brightness is a side benefit over and
above the primary benefit, which is the virtually unlimited bulb
life—typically 5,000 hours. Now, a pilot needn't be stingy with
light use for fear of burning out the bulb. That alone is a significant
safety enhancement. For flight schools and other fleet operators,
the systems may quickly pay for themselves in bulb savings alone.
Systems are available for both 14- and 28-volt airplanes.
--- Now available an improved intermediate beam
width, much brighter than the flood reflector and much wider than
the landing reflector.
For more information, contact LoPresti Speed Merchants,
2620 Airport North Drive, Vero Beach, Florida 32960; telephone
800/859-4757; fax 772/563-0446; or visit the Web site (www.speedmods.com).
— Thomas B. Haines