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Taxi and Landing Lights

Landing light

Vans makes this combination taxi, landing lights kit for all of their aircraft.  The bracket that holds the light is made to fit the width between Vans wing ribs.  With just a little work, it could be made to fit any metal skinned aircraft.

This was a compete kit, and very easy to install.  The directions that came with it were easy to follow.  I did all of the fitting before I riveted the front of the wing together.  This let me cleco the parts together when I needed the shape of the wing for fitting, and let me pull everything apart for access when I was ready to cut and smooth. 

Landing lightI started by marking and cutting the holes in the leading edges of the wing skins.  Be careful here, even though I measured twice and cut once, I still messed it up.  The hole isn’t centered between two ribs; it is offset a little to one side.  I offset both holes to the left the first time.  This meant that when I installed the wings the lights wouldn’t be symmetrical.  I probably could have left it, and very few people would have noticed, but I couldn’t live with it.  So I ordered another wing skin and did it again.  Talk about frustrating!

Landing lightI cut the holes with a cutoff disk, then spent some time with files and Scotch-Brite disks to smooth the edges.  I then clecoed the parts back together and did all the fitting and drilling for the brackets.  I think the biggest advantage of doing this before I riveted the parts together was when it came time for the plexiglass.  It was pretty easy to reach in from the side or back and hold the plexiglass in position.  I think it would have been a lot harder to do in a built wing. 

The bracket has two angles to set the lights.  One is for taxi and the other for landing if you have a tail dragger.  For the tricycle gear, you probably only need the one setting.  Since I’m building an RV-8, I set one light to each angle.

When I marked and drilled my holes to attach the plexiglass to the wing skin, I didn’t put the foam between them.  This made the final installation a little tough, but everything fit.  Only time will tell if there is too much stress on the plexiglass because of this.  I hope I don’t get cracks at the screw holes.

After everything was drilled, I primed the parts, then painted the bracket and the insides of the wings around the landing lights white.  I figured this would reflect better and provide better lighting than leaving them primer green.

Landing light electrical connectionsThe wiring was straightforward.  Power goes from the battery, through a circuit breaker and switch, then through the wing conduit to the lamp.  The ground is connected to the wing tip.  I have a separate circuit for each landing light.  They each have their own breakers, wires and switches.  I put the two switches sitting next to each other on the throttle quadrant panel with the left one going to the left wing and the right one to the right wing.

What I Would do Different

Combination wingtip, landing and taxi lightsWhen I built my wings, Vans did not offer the LL 7/8 MR-16, RV-7/8 Wing Tip Landing Light Kit.  If I had the option, I would look into this all in one system.  It would probably be cheaper, lighter, and easier/quicker to install than using the two separate landing/taxi lights and wing tip lights.

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