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Was a heated pitot (almost) installed in your plane?

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I bought my plane with the intention of pursuing my instrument rating, so I included a heated pitot on my "highly desired" list of equipment when I was shopping. The plane I ended up with ('73 PA28-180) was used for instrument training up north, and had a "PITOT HEAT" switch on the panel, so I assumed (yes, I know!!) that the pitot was heated.

After I purchased the plane, I reviewed the equipment list more thoroughly and realized that the plane was sold without a heated pitot. Sure enough, the next time I was in the hanger I tested that switch, and it didn't do a darn thing. I felt pretty dumb for missing that during the pre-buy, but in the grand scheme of things if I was going to miss something, that's a pretty painless oversight. Still, I decided I would rectify the situation if it wasn't cost-prohibitive.

My plane is in for annual right now, and I'm assisting. Yesterday, while I was lubricating the wing mechanisms, I grabbed a flashlight and looked through the inspection port closest to the pitot, and confirmed there were wires coming out of it, and one of them ran back to the cabin. I reached in and felt around in there, and found a short (~6") length of wire with a ring terminal on the end of it, not connected to anything. "Could I be so lucky?" I wondered...

So I grabbed a screw driver and a multimeter, dropped the pitot tube and pulled out the short wire, got someone to throw the master and pitot heat switch in the cockpit, and confirmed 12V between the loose wire and ground. Apparently, my pitot blade was wired for heat, but the circuit had been intentionally left open at the factory because the buyer hadn't paid for that option. I reattached the pitot blade and attached the ring terminal to one of the mounting screws, and now I have pitot heat!

My A&P says this can be handled in the log book with an entry along the lines of, "Found pitot heat wire loose; reconnected and verified pitot heat functional."

I'd guess mine's not the only plane out there in the same situation.... If your plane has a non-functional pitot heat switch in the panel, you might want to peek inside the port wing the next time your inspection panel is off, and see if there's a loose ground wire coming out of your pitot blade!

Jim
 

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