Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Making Friends

My new checklist in hand, I walked out to the ramp alone to start the preflight. I wanted the chance to poke around a little by myself, nothing too invasive, no access panels removed, just a good thorough hands on inspection. It helped me to make sense of the process.

Next I asked the CFII to stress ground procedures. While he and I both knew I would be getting plenty of practice on these, there were a few steps that I just didn't get and wouldn't feel comfortable 'bumping' against them each time we got ready to fly. He did a great job in forcing me to hit each step. It took longer to get in the air but gave me more comfort sitting on the ground. The autopilot check makes sense to me now, as well as a number of other steps on the list.

As we started the take off roll the CFII had us abort, he heard the whistling sound of a door not quite closed. Something new for me to take into my takeoff readiness check. Evidently Cirrus doors have a minor issue with latching completely closed. Once clear of the runway I gave it another good slam and resolved the problem. The next attempt at a takeoff was successful and after cleaning the aircraft up we turned north to the practice area.

Objectives: High work. Steep turns, slow flight, power off and power on stalls, and always my favorite, introduction to the landing pattern.

Weather: Fantastic. Cool, dry air with not a cloud in the sky.

The plane performs well, the pilot has a way to go. As you can see from the picture, none of my work was to PTS, but it was a real learning experience. As I said before, the sidestick is not an issue. After a few turns you forget about it and attention moves on to other things. My mother gave me a good analogy. If you've ever moved a favorite clock in your home, you get a little confused when you look to see the time and it isn't there. The VSI is great, the altimeter OK, airspeed and percent power are just not a part of me yet. Of course, figuring out where everything is and making corrections effects the overall scan. I'll get there, just not there yet.

The plane is a Lady. She flies smooth, handles well, stalls clean but lets you know it if you're uncoordinated. Take all the gadgets out of her and she would still love to fly. She also has a few quirks. I've never been a fan of electric trim and really miss that big wheel next to my right knee. The glare shield is useless for a reference point, as it cants toward the pilot giving the illusion that you need to add some left rudder. I'm sure there will be more, but nothing that will detract from my overall impression of what a fine aircraft those Klapmeier boys have put together.

The landings are sweet....but different. Can you say F_L_A_T? Forget what you think about what a flare should look like. This girl likes her nose down as she lands a bit faster then most planes I've flown (70kts). When your eyes transition down to the end of the runway, DON"t use the glareshield for really don't need that left rudder you think you do. Otherwise, no problem. Did you ever wonder how to get from the runway to the ramp..charts on the MFD with a real time display of where you are on the field. Nice. I'm still not sure of my 'speeds & feeds' which bothers me. I'll work this week to nail all of the landing pattern numbers, flap configurations, etc. My scan is improving and I felt very comfortable with the final landing at home base, but I was not as precise as I could be in the pattern.

Overall, a very long way to go. This was a great flight and I know I can do this again. The CFII went a long way to help me get some confidence back.

Time = 2.5 hours

Monday, March 16, 2009


A warm front south of us was being held in place by some disorganized High pressure areas to the west, put precipitation was creeping up behind the front making the weather 'iffy'. At least we wouldn't be 'winded out' like last week.

The first flight is always difficult for me. Nothing feels comfortable, not sure how to adjust things and haven't started any kind of standard operating procedures. Its awkward just to get into the thing. The CFII patiently took me through the preflight and all checklists, added insight as to the 'why' behind some of the items and carefully led me through all of the ground procedures. My seat wasn't adjusted correctly, I couldn't comfortably reach the parking break and I never got the headset volume quite right to hear him over the other radio. Immediately obvious is that this is one sophisticated airplane. My challenge will be to understand all of the information being presented and be able to take corrective action on what is being displayed.

Once the avionics master is on, the checklists are displayed on the MFD. Starting, taxiing and runup are all normal, and all different. (Check to make sure you can overide the autopilot servos?)

Takeoff was fine, the side stick was not an issue. Plenty of rudder control even early in the roll. The roll is a bit longer then expected, but not bad. She loves to fly and easily holds a 10 degree pitch up. Clouds are about 4K, visibility maybe 20 miles. The problem is looking outside as there are just too many beautiful displays/maps/functions inside the cockpit.

The flight took us up to the North, over close to Pottstown then back home via a GPS approach. I did some basic airwork; climbs descents and turns, but the real introduction was to the systems. The GNS430 is an old friend of mine, but having two and understanding how they feed the navigation and autopilot systems is new to me.

The flight concluded with a beautiful landing by the CFII. At this point I'm speechless.

Time = 1.5 hours

Thursday, March 5, 2009

A New Beginning

Yesterday I went out to Montgomery County Aviation (MCA) and signed up for the Cirrus SR20 IFR Transition Program. I also purchased a POH and made arrangements to get some renters insurance. The 'flying fund' took a major hit, but I'm really excited about having the opportunity to fly this system. What's next?
"Study the manual and the important numbers for the airplane (Vspeeds, Weights, Engine, etc.) and Monday will consist of introduction to the airframe, and preflight procedures, followed by your initial flight, straight and level, turns, climbs and descents and I will demo the first landing, time permitting you will get an opportunity to go for another lap around the pattern to try your own hand at the landing. Don't worry too much about the panel, or understanding the avionics system yet, the initial two lessons focus on aircraft control."