I Have Flown
"Moderation is the last refuge for the unimaginative",
Cessna 182Q Skylane N20872
This is the plane I'm training for my Private Pilot's
License on. It's a sturdy beast, and has much better performance
than the 172. It also qualifies as high performance based on horsepower,
and has a variable pitch prop, so there's a little more to learn
than in a 172. I rent the plane from the local flying club for $90
odd dollars an hour. I include that figure here because I'm sure
someday it will seem cheap. Right now it doesn't!
Control forces on the 182, particularly for pitch,
can be fairly heavy compared to a 172. This is a well-known attribute
of the craft, but takes some getting used to for the new pilot.
The secret is to make sure the plane is always well-trimmed.
I recently bought a book that I've really enjoyed
called, "The Skylane Pilot's Companion", by Richard A.
Coffey. It chronicles one man's experiences with his Skylane in
a semi-literary way. There's a lot of cases where he gets a tad
too flowery and worked up about it, but for the most part it is
a good introduction to what it's like to fly a Skylane around the
country a lot.
Cessna 172 Skyhawk N13675
Inevitably, the opportunity to fly the ubiquitous
Cessna 172 will arise. There are just so darn many of them around
for one thing.
I find the 172 to be a delightful craft in which to
pursue the $100 hamburger. It's cheap, roomy enough for two large
fellows (you get that way after enough of those hamburgers), and
is generally pretty nice to fly. Controls are much lighter than
the 182, making this plane seem more like a decent sedan than a
pickup truck. I can't wait to try something with really nice
handling like a Tiger!
Cessna 206 Turbo Stationair N93TE
I just got a short ride around the pattern in this plane.
Upon first sight, it appears to be a somewhat deformed 172/182. It's as
if someone just scaled up virtually every dimension. The handling of the
plane is a tad heavy, but basically like the 182. In fact, if you are
familiar with how the 182 is heavier than the 172, picture this plane
being that much more heavy than a 182.
This particular plane was a really nice example: only 800
hours, pretty paint and leather interior, nice panel with Avidyne. The
Avidyne map was interesting. It is apparently just a 486 running Microsoft
Windows. For those who feared this would ever be used for reactors and
airplanes, the day has come and it is in use. The display is really pleasing,
looking almost identical to the real charts and less stylized than say
a Garmin display.
With just two guys in it, this plane really had a lot of
kick on the takeoff roll and climbed like a Banshee. I was very favorably
impressed. It would make a great step up for the average Cessna pilot
who wanted to haul more people. I still don't think you could fill all
6 seats, but you could carry 4 with lots of luggage in comfort.
Piper Navajo CR N111EF
What a great plane! My buddy owns one of these so
I actually get to play with it on occasion. It is the perfect aircraft
for someone who wants to travel in the plane with family and not
just use it for a $100 Hamburger. For an epic Navajo yarn read my
trip report to Seattle or see my
Month of Living Dangerously where
I flew all around Mexico and the Caribbean for a Month. You can
also read my report in the "Airplanes I Covet section"
The Navajo is not so difficult to fly compared to
a Cessna 182. It feels bigger and heavier, and responds a little
more slowly. For takeoff, you want to shoot for blue line (Vmc),
which is optimum climb and takeoff speed before rotating. On this
plane that's about 110, which feels a little fast. Approach is at
about 120, and other than being faster, it feels again like the
C182. It's a little harder to get used to the flare and you will
arrive before you think you should because you sit so much higher
than in a 182.
Like any twin, the difficulty in flying the Navajo,
and the reason why you need a lot of hours to be proficient, is
in the emergency procedures. My pilot friend says the thing to do
is to line up on final and feather the remaining good engine for
a dead stick landing rather than trying to horse it in on one engine.
The asymmetrical thrust is just too brutal. In addition, we learned
the hard way that you can't taxi on one engine. You'll just go around
in circles no matter what you try to do.
Piper Cheyenne IIIa N637KC
Okay, I didn't fly it. But I sat in a couple times and did
lots of calculations to try to figure out how to afford a 1/3 share in
this bird. Before the stock market totally crashed in 2001, there was
talk of me going in with my Navajo friend and his Navajo partner on this
plane. It is such a perfect step up from the Navajo, and seems infinitely
nicer than the Beech King Air. The Beech looks dowdy and ungainly by comparison
to the sleek Cheyenne, and the performance figures bear that out. My Navajo
friends flew down to Palm Dessert in it and clocked 335 knots with no
trouble. The owner was fond of making trips to New England with 1 fuel
stop, and even flew over to Europe. All this in a plane that is really
no hairier to fly than the Navajo, and much more reliable owning to turbine
power. Read all about it in the Airplanes
I Covet report on the Cheyenne.
You can bet I'll be thinking about this one again when I
make my next killing and the markets come back!