Thursday, October 22, 2009

High performance endorsement

I took another ride with CFI Pete today to finish my high performance endorsement and G1000 checkout. For you non-pilots, additional training is required before a pilot can legally fly an airplane, as pilot in command, with an engine of more than 200 HP. Those airplanes are called high performance and the training is noted with an instructor's endorsement in the pilot's log book. One good thing is that the G1000 checkout will let me fly any of the G1000 172s at Bay Air in addition to the 182.

Pete and I flew out over the Gulf first, where I put the autopilot through it's paces. I had a few questions that the G1000 trainer software did not answer, silly things, like how to make it fly the GPS heading. Pete got me squared away on that and we headed back to Whitted for some landings.

Pete worked me hard. We did short field, soft field, no flaps and short approach (power off or simulated engine failure) landings. I was a lot more comfortable with the 182 today. It's bigger, faster and heavier on the controls, but in the end it flies pretty much like the trusty 172. The things to remember are: Don't let it get too slow, below 70 knots it's gonna sink like a rock. Don't land on the nose wheel. That big engine wants to pull the nose down, but keep it up and make the stall horn squeal before landing on the main gear. It's more complicated than a 172, so live by the checklist. Other than that, no problem.

I don't know what's next. The wife and I will probably head out for breakfast one weekend, or a lunch run to Sharky's in Venice, mmmm that sounds good. We're going back to Cedar Key for an overnight stay, and I'm thinking about a stone crab run to Everglades City. One good thing about living in Florida is that there's lots of places to go.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The G1000 C182, wow, what a step up.

I took my first flight in the left seat of a 182 on Thursday. What a big step up from the older "steam gauge" 172s I've been flying. This 182 is a 2007 model with the G1000 avionics package. The only dials and gauges on the panel are backups in case of a complete electrical failure. I have to say it is a lot different, but still a lot of fun. Of course, I think flying just about anything would be fun.

All the fancy avionics aside, the real big difference in the 182 is the bigger engine in the nose. The plane is heavier, faster and requires a bit more attention to fly, or I should say to land. The 182 has a constant speed propeller. Which means the pilot no longer controls the speed of the propeller with engine RPM, he now controls the engine power and RPM with manifold pressure and propeller pitch. So, the pilot has picked up one more control to worry about. Actually, I broke even on the control knobs. This 182 is fuel injected, so I lost the carburetor heat control. Nope, forgot about the cowl flaps, I did pick up one more control knob. Pre-flight and engine run-up are more complex because of the G1000 and constant speed prop. There's simply more things to check, so I'm really going to have to pay attention to the check list any time I fly this plane.

I took off from Whitted with CFI Pete and we flew out over the Gulf to play with the G1000 and the autopilot. This is the first time I've flow a plane equipped with an autopilot. We went through all the maneuvers to get me familiar with the flight characteristics of the 182, slow flight, stalls and steep turns. We did not do a power-on stall. Pete told me that the 235 HP engine in the 182 will let you pull the nose up so steep that you could enter a spin. I don't need any more of those. After that it was autopilot time. The autopilot with track the heading bug, the gps or the nav radios. It will climb or descend at a rate set by the pilot. The G1000 includes a flight director and the autopilot will follow that. Pretty much after take off, you can fly it just by pushing buttons until you're ready to land.

Once done playing with the autopilot, we headed to St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport (PIE) for some touch-and-goes. Runway 25 was in use at Whitted, and since that puts your departure over downtown St. Pete, touch-and-goes are not allowed on 25. PIE wasn't too busy. A Coast Guard C-13o was doing some pattern work on runway 17L, so the tower put us on 22, and we had that runway to ourselves. The tower would switch me from right to left traffic, keeping me out of the C-130's way, I guess. The 182 looks pretty much like a 172, but the increase in weight, power and speed makes landing more interesting. First off, it doesn't slow down quickly as power is reduced. You have to plan your descent further ahead. It really doesn't want to slow down until you start lowering the flaps, but be careful one you do get it slow. Below 70 knots, it starts dropping out of the sky. You can't chop your throttle and glide in on final, like you can in a 172. It's necessary to maintain power until over the runway threshold and then slowly reduce engine power.

On the way back to Whitted, Pete asked me if I thought I was good with the 182. I think I need another hour or so with an instructor to nail those landings, then I'll be good. After the high-performance endorsement , I'll be able to rent any plane at Bay Air, except the Piper Arrow. That will give me more flexibility if something comes up last minute. Also, the 182 will let two couples take a dinner trip or something.

Thursday, October 8, 2009


A few folks have asked me what it's like to perform a spin. This link won't give you the sensation of pulling positive g's then being weightless before more positive g's that you get inside the aircraft, but it will give you some idea of the disorientation one might experience.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Long overdue update...

Sorry about the long hiatus in my blogging. I could list a whole bunch of excuses, but no one wants to read that, so I'll just catch everyone up on what I've been doing.

We finally got moved and settled down a bit. After the moving expenses slowed some, I got back to flying more often. I've wanted to get a tail wheel endorsement for some time, because a number of pilots have told me that would help improve my skills. After getting the endorsement, they were correct. For you non-pilots, a tail wheel or conventional airplane is just what it sounds like. It has two wheels on the front, and one on the tail. A pilot needs a log book endorsement from an instructor, stating that you have received instruction in the operation on a tail wheel airplane before you can legally fly one. Now, a tail wheel airplane flys just like any other. It's taking off, landing and ground handling that are different. I think of it this way: You don't quit flying a tail dragger until you step out of it.

I went to Airport Manatee (48X) for tail wheel instruction. Bill, the CFI there, has a 1948 Aeronca Champ. What a blast the Champ is to fly. I would not want to go any great distance in it, cruise speed is a whopping 80 MPH. But flying around at 80 MPH with the window open is a lot of fun. Took me about 5 hours to get the endorsement. Flying a 172 had ingrained some habits that were not compatible with landing a tail wheel airplane. I've flown an additional hour with Bill after finishing the endorsement during which time he introduced me to spins, chandelles and lazy 8's. The spins were exciting to say the least. The first one scared the poop out of me. I was sure we were going to rip the wings off the airplane. I did two after Bill demonstrated the first, and they were still exciting.

Last weekend, Alice and I flew to Sebring (SEF), yes that's the place with the race trace, for breakfast. The wife is warming up to flying. She says she wants to go here and there with another couple. That's fine with me. Any destination I have to fly to is a good destination. Unfortunately, four grown adults don't fit into a 172 that well. They really don't fit if two of the adults are women toting baggage for an overnight trip. Well, I'll have to remedy that. I talked to one of the instructors at Bay Air about getting a high performance endorsement so that I could rent the club's G1000 182. Yea, that's right. I'll be flying in style.

I hope to be better about blogging in the future. Next week I should get started on the high performance training and I'll let everyone know how that's going.