Unloading my Archer III after her last flight home I realized how much stuff, which we accumulate in our planes, actually weighs. That gear bag in the baggage compartment must have weighed 50 pounds after I put my Jepp plates in it; I had been estimating 25 pounds and thinking that was generous. Oh well, tomorrow I will be leaving for Duluth to start the delivery and orientation process for my new Cirrus SR22, N32MG, hull number 46.
I left Connecticut at 9:30 AM for the drive into LGA. My plane was scheduled to leave at 11:30.I had a 45-minute layover at Minneapolis before the short flight to DLH. I arrived at Cirrus at 4:30 local time. Door to door trip time eight hours, including the time change. After a warm welcome from the receptionists, Suzi Knox immediately met me and showed me to my plane. For the next 30 to 45 minutes I sat in 32MG and was transported to a wonderful place without having to start the engine. Eventually I closed the plane up and headed to downtown Duluth in search of the Hawthorn Suites. The hotel was a renovated warehouse, smelling little shabby and looking slightly shopworn. After walking the downtown area, I settled for dinner at Bellisimos (sp?) and had a wonderful evening. Tuesday morning I met the test pilot who would take me on the acceptance flight, Jeff, and my instructor from Wings Aloft, Ron. The acceptance flight was smooth and fast. All systems were operating well, so aside from some minor paint squawks we were set to go. During the next two days I felt both the highs and lows of a training program which was pushing and pulling me to learn as much and as fast as possible. I am a low time pilot, 250 hours, IFR rated and very comfortable in the soup. I have flown 95 hours in the past 90 days. My first rotation in the left seat had me so far behind the plane, that I might have just as well been sitting on the ramp. By Tuesday afternoon, the side stick was completely intuitive, and I knew that flying was going to be easy, in spite of a final approach angle which looked as if we were going to auger in instead of rounding up. By Wednesday afternoon I felt I would never be comfortable shooting approaches with the S-Tec and the 430Â’s. But Thursday, it all came together. Ahh, Thursday afternoon I sat back and felt good, not cocky but confidant. This new Cirrus could fly fast or slow; it is a wonderful IFR platform; it can handle a short field better than my Archer; and the situational awareness combined with the view out the cockpit was revolutionary. Did I mention the comfortable and spacious accommodations? During the initial use of the plane, some squawks surfaced. They were all taken care of as quickly as possible, considering Chris Dickson was baby-sitting three or four deliveries on top of his normal workload that week. The most minor squawk was landing light out. Cause was loose wire connection. The most major squawk was a balky autopilot. Cure, a replacement. The most amusing squawk was adjusting the seat pedal relationship to accommodate my vertically challenged physique (I am short). Cure, replacement pedal kit to bring the pedals a couple of inches closer to the pilot. My overall impressions were extremely positive. Only the enormous heart of all the people I met exceeded the amount of pride at the Cirrus factory. There was a genuine love of their planes as well as a true respect for us, the pilots who believe in and make the planes worthwhile to produce. While there are laurels to be had, nobody was resting on them. Without exception, people wanted to improve on all areas of their wonderful planes. There are some design/engineering challenges with our planes. The staff is working to cure them and seeking cures which are 100% backward compatible for us. While I am impressed with the Cirrus, I am in awe of the people there. We are all lucky to be a part of this wonderful team.
PIREP of the trip home to follow.