Plane & Pilot
Sunday, June 1, 2008

Redressing A Skylane: Project 182, Part II

Flying by the seat of your pants is more comfortable and fun when you’re nestled into a supercomfortable seat surrounded by first-class furnishings

project 182Someone in the aircraft refurbishment business once said (or should have said), “The paint may be what you see, but the interior is where you live.” So it is with Plane & Pilot’s Project Skylane. Since buying the 1981 Cessna 182 on the East Coast three years ago as a fixer-upper, we’ve done equal shares of research, hand-wringing and procrastination. Eventually, we had no choice but to actually give birth to the project. As a result, we’ve finally managed to finish the panel, paint and interior.
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project 182The man with his name on the building in Gloversville is Bill Perrone Sr., and together with his son, Bill Jr., he’s justifiably proud of the fact that his company is the world’s largest supplier of commercial aviation leather, serving such major airlines as Delta, US Airways, United, Southwest and American. Perrone also provides leather cover materials for a majority of general aviation companies, including Piper, Diamond, Beech, Cirrus and Cessna.

Drawing on four generations in the leather business, Perrone stocks more than two million square feet of leathers of all descriptions, from shearlings to a wide variety of luxurious cowhides. Materials are imported from all over the world, but most airliner products come from South America. Corporate skins often are imported from Europe, especially products such as Belgian calfskin. Colors aren’t strictly limited to tans and browns, either. Perrone can shade materials to an individual client’s demands. Of course, all Perrone materials comply with the FAA’s burn requirement.

More than coincidentally, Perrone also produces a line of aviator’s flight jackets. The company supplies some 100 commercial airlines around the world with flight jackets and markets a variety of aviator A-2s and other designs for both men and women. (My girlfriend has a Perrone Lady Liberty Flight Jacket that she practically sleeps in.)

For this application, Perrone deals in interior materials for everything from airliners and corporate jets to homebuilts and production singles, and the company sells bulk leathers that wind up on literally thousands of reupholstery jobs each year. There’s even a special material called Featherweight, a superlight leather that weighs 25% to 30% less than the company’s standard Skyline and upscale Elite lines, intended specifically for applications where weight is critical. Perrone also builds fully upholstered cushions for the popular Oregon Aero collection of aircraft seats.

project 182
Rosen Sunvisors were selected for their mobility, giving complete cockpit coverage. Hallock’s attention to workmanship is evident in every level of detail.
Aviation Design’s Hallock says he loves to work in leather and that Perrone products are some of the best. Before he can get to the leather covers, however, he does a complete teardown of every component in the airplane—from side panels, headliner, panel cover and floorboards to the seats themselves. All surfaces are fully cleaned and reconditioned, then typically re-covered with the same fabric used on the seats.

“The seats and seat belts are perhaps the most important part of the reupholstery process, because they represent the pilot’s point of direct contact,” Hallock explains. “We put a major portion of our effort into reconstructing and updating every seat.”

All seats are stripped to the frame, cleaned and repaired as necessary to make certain all adjustment mechanisms—fore, aft and sideways track, vertical, tilt, recline, thickness, lumbar and any other movement parameter—operate normally. After reconditioning, the seat frames are fully painted and prepared for padding and cover.


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