Thursday, June 7, 2007

Pipper Archer - Cross Winds Are Fun

I just got checked out in a Pipper Cherokee Archer:

It is a step up from the Cessna 172s I have been flying in both size and in horsepower. The Cessnas have about 100HP, and the Archer has 180HP. The Cessna cruses at about 100 knots and the Archer at about 120 knots or better.

Overall I found that the airplanes are very similar, each edging the other out in certain areas. The Cessna has a high wing so you don't have to worry about an electric fuel pump, the Archer is a low wing, so it is much more stable on the ground. Right now I give the Archer the edge, because it is faster, and it is still new to me.

The first day of the check ride was an interesting day weather wise. We had VFR conditions, with showers running north east and south west of the airport. I had never flown in the rain, so the instructor thought that after 15 years of having a pilot's license, it was high time I got a little wet. So in the rain we went.

I was nervous at first, but I soon found that I had nothing to be worried about. There was only a slight change in performance as I crossed the rain barier, due to the change in tepurature of the wet ground... That was it. I still had my 3 miles visability, and my cloud clearnce. No muss no fuss.

I handled my steep turns, slow flight, and stalls like a pro. The Archer stalls very subtally and is difficult to keep in a stall. Not like the Cessna that will ocationally stall violently dipping the right wing as it falls out of the sky. Lots of fun.

The place that rents the airplane had a very long check out list, and the two hours that I had reserved was not enough time to finish it, so back I came today to practice landings, and go over short field takeoffs and soft field landings... even though they do not want you to ever land on a soft field... Whatever.

Today was a windy day, with the runway running 30 to 12, and the wind from 270 at 11 knots gusting to 18 knots. Almost a direct crosswind. This was one of the strongest crosswinds I have ever flown in, so it was really good practice.

I did much better than I thought I would. The last time I flew the Cessna I had about a 4 knot crosswind, so I think that practice helped. I messed up the first one, forgetting to line up my nose with the runway, but the next 3 I really nailed. I held my wind correction right on the ground, I stayed centered on the runway and I was conrolled the airplane very well once I was on the ground. I think I need to work on my breaking though. I tend to hit the break when I am trying to turn the nose gear. In the Archer, the nose gear actually turns, so it is important to not hit the break while turning. All in all I did well, and I look forward to solo flight.

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