Saturday, October 28, 2006

Piper Archer Checkout Complete!

Two flights, over and out. Interestingly, I needed more than that to complete a Cessna 172SP checkout, and that's coming from a Cessna 172N! Two factors are at play -- for one, this is a classic example of how much more efficient with my time Sergey is than anyone else. He knows my flying, he knows what to look for, and doesn't waste much time. It's very impressive. For another thing, I went into this checkout with a lot of practice, so I didn't have to relearn much in the way of fundamentals.

Today we took off from Palo Alto in 2395V, a nice Archer from the 1980s. I've noticed that the Piper aircraft from the 80s just seem much more solid, in better repair than Cessnas the same age. I mentioned this to Sergey, and he agreed -- basically he attributed the difference to the quality of manufacturing. Very interesting -- I'm starting to think that if I decide to purchase an aircraft, I'd be more comfortable with an older Piper than a Cessna, and the Piper might hold its value a little better. Just an opinion based on limited observations.

Anyway, we went out to Livermore and basically just did a bunch of pattern work, starting with normal landings, which are dirt simple in an Archer, then Sergey pulled the power on me on downwind. I actually was heading for the wrong runway, but Sergey caught me and said, "You've already drifted too far; I don't think you'll make it." I saw my mistake, and immediately turned for the numbers. We had a nice conversation on the way down, basically with me claiming we'd make it and him saying "I don't know..." In the end, we did make it, and it was such a great glide in! I can't describe how nice it feels to fly the Archer; it's so intuitive, it's a real pleasure.

We then did a short field takeoff and landing, a couple of more touch and goes, a no flap landing, one more power off approach, and then a forward slip, which is a lot less scary in a Piper than a Cessna. Once again, while the high wing design may be more inherently stable, the Piper Archer just feels a heck of a lot more stable than the Cessna 172 or SP. I'm not, however, one to choose sides in what has been a heated debate within aviation for years; I really want to be good at both platforms (and others). But I do feel that mastering the Cessna has made me a better pilot, and more able to transition easily to other aircraft.

Anyway, I'm now checked out on the Piper Archer -- oh, one mistake I continue to make is a failure to do a prelanding checklist. This time there was a distraction in that another plane was reporting the same position as us (turns out it was a half mile closer to the airport). But still, that's no excuse.

No comments: