Published in Midwest Flyer – February/March 2019 issue
If you have a preheater in your aircraft, you probably have a need for some sort of remote cell phone system you can call to turn it on the night before you go flying in the wintertime. One distributor of this equipment is mechanical engineer and general aviation pilot, Carl Bumpurs of Racine, Wisconsin.
A native of North Texas, Carl studied mechanical technology at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Oklahoma, and received valuable training in early digital automation technology while employed at Texas Instruments (TI) at their semi-conductor plant in Dallas, Texas.
Carl then spent two years as a Peace Corps volunteer in West Africa (Republics of Guinea and Gabon) training local mechanics in maintenance and the repair of American-made construction equipment. Following the Peace Corps, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy Seabees and was deployed to Vietnam as a construction equipment mechanic. Following Vietnam, he returned to the Peace Corps, serving as deputy director in the Republics of Guinea and Zaire supervising skilled trades programs.
Upon returning to the U.S., Carl joined the International Division of J.I. Case. During his 11 years with the company, he served as regional manager for North Africa, residing in Tunis, Tunisia for three years, and after a four-year stint at the company’s headquarters in Racine, he spent another three years as regional manager for Egypt, Sudan and Lebanon, residing in Cairo, Egypt. It was during this period in 1976, while on annual leave in the U.S., that Carl earned his private pilot certificate.
On returning to the U.S., Carl joined a start-up company as a product development engineer and helped develop a successful line of industrial floor scrubbers and sweepers. Carl then joined DeltaHawk, a startup company developing a diesel aircraft engine. He worked there as an engineering technician until retirement.
After casting about for opportunities, Carl decided that general aviation needed a reliable, well-supported remote aircraft preheater system. The actual catalyst in developing the system was the fact that he was the member of a five-person flying club who lived the closest to the airport (John H. Batten Airport in Racine, Wis., KRAC), and would occasionally be asked to plug in the preheater for others. Acclimated to much warmer climates than the cold Midwest, Carl decided that there must be a better way and engineered a remote cell phone system, and founded FST LLC in 2010, and sold its first equipment later that year.
“We placed test units with selected individuals in late 2009 and the products proved reliable,” said Carl. “With some additional tweaking and development of an iPhone app to simplify the user interface, we had the product that is still being marketed today with only minor changes. Different models were developed to serve distinct market sectors – differentiation based primarily on switching capacity (wattage) and the resulting cost of manufacturing.
“The product is reliable, simple to use and fully supported by FST LLC, including cell service,” said Carl. Some manufacturers make the owner keep track of cell phone usage and it really gets to be a headache for most people. FST LLC is truly a one-stop source for remote switches and related service and tech support. Products are warranted with a one-year, no-nonsense guarantee and free online, text and phone support for the life of the product. Market acceptance has also been augmented through exposure by AOPA Live, Aviation Consumer and sales through Aircraft Spruce.
Combining his skill as a technician with flying has been a dream come true for Carl, who went on to earned his Instrument Rating in 1999, and has owned a number of Piper and Mooney aircraft over the last 30 years. He currently owns and flies a Piper PA28-181 Archer II as a member of a flying club.