Florida Firm Upgrades Avionics for Ike's Bird, Fifi

 - July 16, 2019, 4:30 PM
Commemorative Air Force's Aero Commander L-26B, known as Ike's Bird is the smallest aircraft to ever serve the president of the United States as Air Force One. (Photo: Commemorative Air Force)

Gulf Coast Avionics is outfitting two Commemorative Air Force (CAF) aircraft with Garmin avionics upgrades and providing engineering on its own dime, the Lakeland, Florida-based company announced this week. The aircraft includes an L-26B Aero Commander that once flew former President Dwight Eisenhower and his senior staff. Known as Ike’s Bird, it is the last piston twin to serve as Air Force One.

Upgrades to the aircraft include the design, installation, and support of a Garmin GTX345 ADS-B transponder, along with GTN750 GPS navcom and GNC225 navcom. “We are extremely proud to have the opportunity to take part in this vital effort to develop the avionics upgrade for this truly unique and historic aircraft,” Gulf Coast president and CEO Rick Garcia said. “It may be the smallest airplane to ever wear the designation of Air Force One, but any aircraft [that] carries the president of the United States plays a large part in the history of aviation and our country.”

Another CAF airplane to receive Garmin avionics upgrades is its B-29, Fifi. Garmin upgrades for the bomber include dual G5 ADI and HSI displays for pilot and copilot, GTN650 GPS navcom, and GTX345 ADS-B transponder. “There are few aircraft in the world as recognizable or symbolic as the B-29, and we are proud to… assist in the modernization of Fifi’s cockpit so that this iconic aircraft not only meets the 2020 ADS-B compliance deadline, but has the reliability and capabilities of digital displays to continue safe operations for years to come,” added Garcia.