My plane is an Arion Lightning kit built Experimental that I fly light-sport. I built it at the mid-atlantic distributor Green Landings using their builder-assist program. Like most builders, every single choice imaginable on the plane was made by me, always after long and dynamic research. Since I saw you so regularly at shows both before and during the build, I was quite concerned that you'd dismiss me as a potential customer just as I was approaching the purchase! Well, that was unfounded, and more importantly, set the tone for our subsequent interactions.
She has a Jabiru 3300 and a fixed pitch Sensenich, the Gen 2 Voyager EFIS and the V10, as well as the built-in 2 axis autopilot running Trio servos. In addition to the RDAC, I/O Extender, SP-2 and 4, Com Extender, I used all the harnesses, engine and fuel probes and senders MGL sells.
I had the opportunity to fly in Lightnings equipped with Dynons and GRTs. Both were/are terrific systems and solid choices. I became interested in MGL after seeing a couple of light-sports with the Enigma. So, it might be considered a bit odd that one of the first things I recall about the company was Rainier's [MGL Avionics CEO/Chief Designer] business declaration on the website, and that it struck a powerful chord somewhere down deep given that I'm not an engineer nor programmer.
3 things initially sealed it. The product itself, with well-thought-out choices in hardware and software, carefully and openly EXPLAINED. I felt, and still do today, that no one at the time had an 'experimental G1000' working, shipping, and with loads of prior generations actually flying. Next, customizable EVERYTHING, with the single most amazing concept called a simulator to practice, test, and learn anywhere, anytime. The usefulness of this still amazes me. I use it more than ever now, and can't imagine trying to keep current with the Voyager's functionality without it, let alone customizing font size so I can actually read things while bumping around the sky. Lastly, the community, starting with the engaged and communicating owner, developer and chief bottle washer. As so many have pointed out, this alone is unique and critical.
I have seen most competing instruments installed in Lightnings at the build center. I'm sure I might be partial, but the simplicity with which it all came together for me reinforced the soundness of my choices. The RDAC is brilliant, massively simplifying and reducing by an order of magnitude the time, complexity, and miles of wiring needed to bring data to a state of the art EIS. Then, as I progressed to the EFIS/Radio interface, the Garmin GTX327, and the AHRS, once again, it was stone simple and FAST. I literally spent more time thinking through the routing than actually making connections.
When it was all completed, I added power to the system and was greeted by a series of flashing LEDs on different units. And, amazingly, everything started to talk to each other! After getting everything set up, I can honestly say, it all JUST WORKED! Compared to the troubleshooting on many of the other systems I saw, my lack of 'issues' truly astounded me. Still does when I think about it.
No equal, anywhere. I fried the battery charger inside the EFIS by accidentally not following the clear installation instructions and was amazed at the extra mile Matt went to repair it in a day, then sending it back completely across the country so I would not have to miss flying that weekend. No charge for the repair either, no matter how strongly I insisted since it was my own fault. I took the opportunity to upgrade to the G2, and still he got it all turned around in a DAY. I've literally spent that long trying to just contact a company a year or two prior with a problem with a unit I used in a prior project.
Just to be sure I maintained my sense that I just might be the only customer they were servicing that day worldwide, I had a very minor issue with the V10 since it was one of the very first shipped. AGAIN, Matt turned it around the same day he received it. AGAIN, so I could fly on the coming weekend. AGAIN, no charge for the fix.
For the record, neither situation rendered the instruments unusable for even a moment.
Rainier is actively engaged in dialog with the community, even with folks who are not yet customers. In exchange, the community not only helps each other but offers ideas for improvements that get a fair and dynamic hearing, and can even be enthusiastically adopted. Add in the passion, commitment, and creativity of the dealers, who make some competitor dealers look like 'sales offices', and again the uniqueness of it all inspires.
Same for Craig, Bill, and Cecil, and so many of the other members who each have contributed so much to my understanding, functionality, and enjoyment of the system and it's community. Amazing that, not only after I purchased my instruments but BEFORE too, I have such access to so much support.
I have been known to get so energized by the terrific functionality of the MGL systems that I dash off notes to Matt out of the blue that serve no useful purpose but to communicate my delight. One I recall sending last spring while the MGL autopilot gently banked her into a rate one turn as I intentionally overflew the GPSNAV destination airport. It circled back to the exact same entry point and I hadn't expect that, so I let it do it several times while I wrote the note to Matt. (My passenger was a private pilot and was on full lookout).
I often wish I had more technical expertise to contribute more significantly to this unique community, but I know that there are those among us who derive satisfaction simply by hearing that their efforts are greatly appreciated and deeply respected. To this end, in a complete reversal of the usual consumerism mantra, I often say I'm proud to be THEIR customer, and a member of the MGL constellation.