Well I finally got to fly the Penn Yan Flying Clubs Cirrus SR20-G2 on a VFR Transition Flight from Penn Yan to Rochester, New York. I want to summarize my first flight experience in an orderly fashion without getting into a long blog, frankly the weather is too nice and I want to go ride my new bike so I can get some exercise!
Cirrus on the Ground
- The plane is heavy and if you are on anything less than concrete or asphalt this would be a hard plane for a YOUNG man to move alone.
- The plane is close to the ground…prop is within 8 inches of the ground, so you don’t go off-roading with this plane.
- The plane is heavy and will sink up to the boots on a soft or wet ground.
- Use the checklist for your walk around because there are more things to observe and check off (like brake detection pads that show if the planes brakes have overheated…black is bad!).
Inside in the Cirrus
- It’s a tight fit for an average man with a husky build and is more like a cockpit of a jet fighter than other single engine aircraft like a Cessna or Piper.
- Things like the fire extinguisher are out of reach and are at your feet (dump place to put something especially in an electrical fire).
- Things like circuit breaker are almost out of reach so I have memorized that the autopilot circuit is up four places from the bottom in the first row next to my right leg.
- Use the checklists for ALL things…not just flight.
Cirrus in Flight
- The Cirrus control system (side yoke) offers no “feel”, very little aerodynamic resistance is felt by your wrist because its control mechanism is centered by springs, not by aerodynamic pressure. A Cirrus control in flight feels the same to a pilot at any airspeed.
- The Cirrus control system (side yoke) offers no “feel” so crosswind landings can’t be “felt” out. So if you don’t know what the crosswind is on landing you will be behind the plane, not such a good thing. You will have to land on the assumption that anything you assume might be wrong over the numbers.
- Trim to the left and right is aggressive, meaning you just need to do a quick light tap for left or right trim.
- You must set takeoff trim (left and right too) as per the notch indicator on the side yoke for takeoff (use the checklist).
- We use 50% flaps on all take offs (use the checklist).
- The good news is that in flight the side yoke won’t be so different that you’ll have a problem so don’t fear the weird yoke (the springs are the problem)
- Don’t go heavy on the controls. The plane turns nicely without the need to be aggressive on the controls – gentle turns are all you need anyway.
- Be at 75 kts over the numbers for landing and get it close to the runway when you do this. You aren’t going to “leaf” this plane onto the runway….you fly it down to the runway. This is not a plane that does a 55 kt Cessna 172 landing!
- Did I mention checklists? You have them on the MFD and in your hand.
- Monitor fuel – it’s required – every 15 to 20 minutes depending on your burn rate, you switch tanks. (boost pump on, switch tanks, boost pump off).
My first flight was fun but it will take many more hours before I feel I can solo in it. The duel Garmin 430 WAAS’s were great, the autopilot was great, and the Avidyne 6 is a very easy glass panel to use compared with a Garmin G1000 – yes it does less than a Garmin, but it gives you what you need as a Private Pilot and I was never lost.
I have been using Microsoft Flight Simulator and the Cirrus SR20 from Eaglesoft Development Group (http://www.eaglesoftdg.com/) in my ground training and its been great at helping me getting to know the avionics in the real plane. Because of this program I knew just where to go in the real plane for the information I needed.
If I owned my own plane (please Lord) I would have no problem having the Avidyne 9 as my cockpit panel of choice.
Eaglesoft (please read this) needs to update the avionics or offer an upgrade to the avionics and Garmin 430 menu system, will see what Microsoft Flight offers later this year as far as aircraft models.
Finally, please DO NOT be in a big rush to get a flight in with this plane. This is not a start and go aircraft, so make sure you have no scheduling issues to deal with mentally. You need all of that juice to stay in the game…and a nice game it is!