Started by Robin Thomas, in 1982, our main focus was in increasing Piper Seneca and the Cherokee’s cruise performance by making the wing work as it was designed to do.
We tested 17 different mods over a whole year, many hours each. We were fortunate to be in the Caribbean and able to make 500 plus mile flights in our Seneca 1, all flights were over the ocean and similarly loaded. The first mod we tested was the fuel tank fairing and wing smoothing, to enable laminar flow. Hence the name of the company!
We had experienced the benefits of a smooth upper wing surface when working with a Lockheed engineer. This smoothing transformed the plane!
After we were able to test the wing smoothing mod, we decided that the results were spectacular enough to phase out of our air charter business and start developing modifications for Pipers. We had already gained 8 mph, and from previous experience, we knew that it was easy to get another 7 mph with simple mods, like gap seals, flap hinge fairings and wheel well fairings. All these other modifications had been proven on many planes, in particular the Mooney 201. That would total 15 mph and with that amount, we believed we would have a compelling product.
The next major consideration would be ease of installation. This was of great importance, because we were based in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands at the time, and were not expecting to do any installations locally. Everything we offered would have to be installable without disassembling any part of the plane... and would have to be made in such a way as to never have to be removed for regular service or inspections. As a result, all parts are made of aircraft aluminum, and become a permanent part of the airframe.
Within weeks of obtaining our first STC, the senior editor of “The Aviation Consumer Magazine” came to check the Seneca out. He found a 200 ft. /min increase in single engine rate of climb and at least 20 mph increase in cruise speed!
Next, we bought a Cherokee 140, to see if the same things would work for it. Soon, we realized that nothing would do much good until we addressed the drag of the landing gear. That’s when we developed Fancy Pants, along with a nose strut fairing. Between them they added over 12.5 mph to the cruise speed!
Testing, testing, and testing. We spent a whole year testing the pant modifications, and frankly, we were impressed with the results beyond our wildest dreams. Fancy Pants were STC’d in 1985 and were an instant hit. It was soon copied by GAC, later bought by K2U, sold to this day. But were not satisfied with the first design, which did not allow for easy inspections. When we certificated a better one, with a large inspection door, we re-entered the market.
We realized that all our work was being copied by companies on the mainland, so we decided we would have to move the company here, to Daytona Beach, where we would be able to have a more commanding presence... after all, a small company from the Virgin Islands does not command much respect … We wisely held off introducing our tuned exhausts until after the move, in 1997. That idea for a Tuned Exhaust System has grown to become Power Flow Systems, Inc., with high performance Tuned Exhaust Systems installed and flying on more than 4,300 General Aviation aircraft worldwide.
What does all this mean to you? Everything we make has integrity, a design philosophy which puts you, the pilot first. We sell nothing which will not benefit you in increased cruise, climb and fuel economy... and every product we make has the only complete guarantee in the business... “If it does not do what we claim, or if you just don’t like it, you can return it and get your full money back.”