Sunday, May 21, 2006

First 172SP Flight

I took my first flight in a 172SP, N236SP out of San Carlos, last Wednesday. It was a little crazy; I was supposed to meet Steve (the instructor) at 4:00. I had a meeting at work from 3:00 to 3:30, and at 3:30 the CEO walked in and the meeting then got extended. At 3:55, I walked out of the meeting and got to the airport by 4:15.

Steve and I started by going over the major differences between a 172 and a 172SP. There are 13 fuel drains instead of 3 -- they tried to reduce fuel sloshing by contouring the bottom of the tanks, but that resulted in fuel, and possibly impurities, getting stuck in certain spots. So they drilled holes in those spots and installed drains that now must be checked during preflight. Brilliant.

The SP is fuel injected, so no more worrying about carburetor heat! Also, the fuel selector switch has no "off" position; instead there is a separate cutoff control. The startup procedure is bizarre: Priming is no longer manual, but instead, the auxiliary fuel pump is used. So: Throttle 1/4" forward, mixture full rich, turn on the fuel pump, wait for the slightest bit of movement on the fuel flow meter (it calls for 5GPH, but that's a tiny bump the way the gauge is set up), then pull the mixture full lean and kill the pump. Then, start the ignition, and advance the mixture to full rich when it fires, and immediately adjust the throttle for 1000RPM.

Crazy, huh?

After that, things are pretty normal. I got dinged a couple of times for advancing the throttle too quickly, which apparently is never good practice but fuel injected engines particularly hate. We did a Bay Meadows departure, and did a steep turn, slow flight and stall out over Crystal Springs Reservoir. The plane handled so well! Once I got it trimmed, it would just stay there! Amazing. The old 172s are so loose, that this just felt great.

We came back in and did some pattern work. My first approach and landing were all over the place, and Steve told me so. He demonstrated one, and then I did one. The last one was good except I flared high.

And that was it! So hopefully sometime this week I will complete the checkout, and be able to take passengers up in style!

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