Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Cirrus Sr20, glass panel, flight training, introduction S-TEC 55x

OK, so that title should tickle just about every search engine out there for anyone who might be interested in this blog. My son convinced me to add Google Analytics to see who was actually reading this thing so this entry might prove to be interesting.

The weather looked a lot like last week. Three or four fronts were moving through the area and brought very heavy rains with them last night. The next big event was a cold front still moving east across western Pennsylvania. It was going slower then predicted and while ugly, it was still out further then we intended to travel. Flight conditions were definitely 'iffy'.

My preparation was weak. I'm at the stage where I know a lot and I know that there is a lot I don't know. At times I'm completely comfortable, but most of the time...well not so much. I remember the level of proficiency I once had and am eager to get there again, but my knowledge is insufficient at this point. So I went into this session with mixed emotions. Eager to perform but afraid I wouldn't meet my own expectations. I didn't let myself down.

The objective was to get an introduction to enroute procedures using the autopilot. I planned a short hop out to Lancaster (KLNS) which should provide enough time to run the standard checklists and start polishing my use of the GNS430 and its use for terminal procedures.

Rather then humble myself in front of the whole world I'll suffice to say that I made errors from the time I turned the key on until I pulled the mixture to cut off. I clearly need to fly my easy chair a few times before I go up in the airplane again. Having said that, I will also say that this was truly an amazing learning experience.
I anxiously took the runway ready to go. All in the green and accelerating nicely the CFII asked if I heard it? That whistling sound? I initiated the abort. My door wasn't closed properly. BE AWARE! Once clear of the runway a good slam solved the problem. The next try was successful.

The CFII patiently had me go through the climb and cruise checklists and reviewed the auto-lean functions with me. I spent a good deal of time discussing the most efficient way to set up the communications radios. The real 'break through' event was the use of the MFD. That weather supposedly staying west of our destination, wasn't. Deep dark storm clouds were rolling in over the destination airport so the instructor used this to his advantage by pointing out the weather page and going through all of the information available. Truly GREAT stuff.

...and with that knowledge we decided discretion being the better part of valor we would return to Wings. Here again a great discussion on setting up the GNS430 (what if you need to change your full approach to use vectors to final instead?) and interlocking with the S-TEC-55x. You've got to know what you want and be prepared with options.

Next was landing pattern practice. I love this, which is not to say that I have mastered it yet. As you can see my patterns are consistently...inconsistent. Even this shows progress because I KNOW what I'm looking at and what I'm trying to achieve. Some subtle tips and cues from the CFII definitely helped me to get in front of the airplane. The altitude analysis shows I'm leveling off late for the downwind. The deeper pattern is actually the better one and even here I feel high on final. Tuning is required, but overall I'm quite comfortable, especially once over the numbers. Here again I'm learning to be professional. Treat her like a lady with smooth adjustments...close the throttle, don't chop it.

The #1 objective of this entire evolution is being accomplished. Even though I'm still kicking myself for all the stupid, clumsy mistakes I made I still had a grin on my face the entire way home from the airport.

Time = 2.2 hours


  1. Those Cirrus doors can be tricky - I've had one pop open just after takeoff and it definitely makes you aware that something happened.

    I've also flown an entire trip with the door cracked open too - that was a cold flight. :)

  2. Glad to hear you got out. I cancelled my flight this week. Friday at 4:30/5 pm we are getting together at Wings for some hanging out, sharing stories, snacking, etc. The group will probably be there till 6+. Call me if you think you can make it.