Sunday, October 29th: Mary and I flew to Stuart, FL out of Opa Locka. It was a great flight on a beautiful day. I mean, just absolutely gorgeous. We had a nice relaxing flight up on the west side of civilization, passing over miles and miles of empty Everglades.
We landed at Witham Airport in Stuart and got treated to a courtesy car via Galaxy Aviation. One of the ramp guys recommended a Mexican place down the way called Dos Amigos. We went there and enjoyed our "$100 burritos" ($90 per hour for the plane, $10 per person for the food :) ). Awesome food. We even took a container of salsa with us, it was so good.
On the way back, we flew down the east coast, passing directly over Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale (with a near mid-air with a jet coming out of Boca). Mary slept most of the way back, since the dramamine had taken its toll and the espresso she had drunk wore off.
Sunday, November 5th: I got checked out in the diesel Cessna 172 down at ADF Airways. What an interesting plane. It's an entirely new way of flying!
- First off, she's heavier by about 200 or so pounds than a regular 172, so carrying three people is iffy at best.
- Secondly, she's got less power - 135 horsies as opposed to 180 in the 172SP. She tends to climb slower, though the instructor showed me that if I shoot for Vx (65 knots) instead of Vy (75 knots) she climbs pretty nicely.
- Thirdly, most of her engine procedures are completely different. Instead of mixture or carb heat, you've got loadmeters, FADEC tests, digital LED readouts, and a single jet-like power lever.
- She uses a constant speed prop, whose pitch is automatically controlled by the FADEC. You have to be gentle with power changes, since when you throttle up or back the pitch is automatically adjusted. As explained to me by the instructor, quick power changes result in "scary sounds". This reminded me a lot of the German WWII jet fighter, the Me262, whose engines would flameout if power was adjusted too abruptly.
- As far as landing, it's totally different than a standard 172. In a standard 172, you can go idle abeam the numbers and do a short approach to the runway, with plenty of room to spare. On the diesel, when you cut that power she sinks like a stone. You need to think like a jet pilot: on approach, have power on at all times and only cut the power once the mains kiss the ground. The instructor suggested that this plane could almost be used as a transition aircraft for people moving on to light jets, since it's a similar power-on approach but at 1/2 half the airspeed.
- The autopilot is a little quirky. It's a single axis (Heading) and we had some trouble getting it to work right. It synched up fine with the heading bug, but it didn't seem to respond when we set to GPS.
- She's very, very efficient. We were cruising at 70% power, doing about 100 knots, and burning only 5 gallons per hour. Jet-A is also much cheaper than Avgas.