Flew out to DLH on 5/3 with my friend John for a 5/4 delivery. Walt Conley and Woody McClendon were going to come along, but the scheduling gods did not see fit to allow it.
We stopped by the factory about 5:15 pm and saw my SR22 sitting on the ramp (along with at least a half dozen others; there was no more room.) There were wires and TV cameras everywhere. Turns out that one of the local TV stations has a weekly feature in which they do their 6pm newscast on location from some place or other, and Cirrus was to be the location that night.
Got back to the Hawthorn Suites and turned on the TV. The sportscaster was standing inside the factory leading into his segment talking about “rudders and ailerons and, um, flaps.” Then the weather segment came on, broadcast from inside my plane. The stormscope was on. “See that little yellow ‘X’? That’s an electrical discharge. We might have thunderstorms tonight!” Of course, it was clear and beautiful.
Took delivery on Friday am, 5/4. This being my second time through the process, it was short and sweet. They pointed out that the wingtip did not meet their cosmetic standards (the trailing edge varied somewhat in thickness, probably due to clamps during layup) and would be replaced. Took the acceptance flight and everything checked out, other than a slightly low idle. The factory pilots all have private call signs and squawk codes (regardless of the plane that they’re flying.) Having your own squawk code is definitely living large.
On Friday afternoon the training began. As is now my tradition, I flew with Regis on his first time training a customer in the airplane (I was his first SR20 customer as well) so Kevin was present for the proceedings. We started by blasting through the ground training in a couple of hours, going over the few (but significant) differences between the 20 and the 22, and checking my answers in all the homework (we found some mistakes in their answer sheets.)
From there it was off to go flying. The plane sits a little bit higher, but this difference is really only noticable stepping up onto the wing. The seat geometry is a bit different too; I seem to sit a little higher (good). Adjusting the seat is a little harder than in the 20, because the front of the seat overhangs a bit, so I found it a bit difficult to reach the release handle (switching hands seemed to do the trick.)
We decided to do the basics, but to concentrate on IFR, since the avionics are a bit different and, between CA and NM, I seldom see any actual.
First major difference–the IO-360 is a pussycat to start (complaints to the contrary notwithstanding) compared to the IO-550, which requires tons of priming, followed by some jiggling of the throttle (presumably causing some extra fuel to be squirted) to get all the cylinders firing. Runs like a champ after that, and I didn’t have any difficulty after the first couple of times.
We broke ground in about 900 feet, close to max gross, and were seeing 1500 fpm climbing at 140 knots indicated (yee hah!) and headed up to Hibbing. The feel of the controls is almost identical to the 20, though the 22 is noticibly heavier in pitch at rotation speed (it takes a bit of muscle to get the nose off the ground.) I was immediately comfortable, having come in with about 120 hours in the SR20. Power management is the major difference–knowing how far to pull back (very) in the pattern, and getting used to how little throttle motion is necessary to effect changes.
We did a bunch of landings at Hibbing. The only difference that I really noticed was that, while the SR20 tends to need a bit of nose up trim going from 50% to 100% flaps in order to nail the approach speed, the 22 needs to be trimmed more nose down, as it will go from 90 KIAS to 75 or so, and 80 KIAS is where you really want to be. Flying patterns, I found myself doing 140 knots on downwind without thinking about it (pull that throttle back!)
On the way back the ALT2 light came on for awhile and then went off. We decided to see if it would recur (it didn’t) and let it go.
Saturday we went out for a few hours of IFR practice. We headed up to International Falls (I kept calling it “Frostbite Falls” but Regis didn’t grow up watching “Rocky and Bullwinkle” and so the reference was lost on him.) We did the departure and en route stuff completely on autopilot (I’m a great believer in being as proficient in systems management as in hand flying) and I had some difficulty with the altitude preselect until Kevin noticed that the DTA and BAR buttons were switched. That explained a few things! Regis was playing with the environmental controls. When he turned the heat on and off, the plane jumped around. We quickly surmised that turning the control caused the altimeter and VSI to jump, and since the plane was in altitude hold, it was confusing the autopilot, and switching to the alternate static source had no effect, so we figured that the static system was leaking to the cabin.
Started by hand-flying the ILS. I came in with too much power and was erratic at best. On the missed, the controller helpfully sent us to hold at the IAF of the next approach we wanted (the LOC BC) rather than the published missed. This of course led to situational overload for me; I took the coward/pragmatist’s way out and punched HDG/ALT on the autopilot while trying to figure out what he was doing to us. Around the hold for three spins (the 430 is very helpful in holds, except when you forget to keep punching the OBS button to suspend sequencing, as it wants to lead you down the approach after one spin if the hold is at the IAF.) The BC approach was awful; my scan was hopeless, I almost pinned the needle, and was sweating profusely. To add insult to injury, I had to be reminded to cancel IFR by the departing Mesaba Saab 340, as he was stuck on the ground waiting for the airspace to be freed up.
Bought fuel and took a breather and gathered my wits, and we headed back to DLH. I hand-flew under the hood for the whole thing, while taking questions and tinkering with radios and such, which helped get my scan back. When we got to Duluth we started with the GPS 21 approach, which I did pretty well with, except that I wasn’t throttling back enough on the stepdowns (power management again) and so was arriving at altitude late (better high than low, but still not great.) Control was better this time. We then did a coupled ILS 27 with the DME arc, and did the whole thing on autopilot. The GPSS feature of the 55X flew the arc perfectly (quite a marvel) while the autoslew feature on the Sandel kept cranking the course pointer around. There was a pretty stiff wind from the east, so the ILS was not yet on for runway 9 (since there were approaches for 27 taking place.) The controller offered us vectors; I told him that we could use GPS to navigate to the FAF (he was suitably impressed.) Just as we hit the FAF the controller switched the ILS around. I was glad to have read the 55 manual thoroughly, so I knew how to enable GS coupling manually (since it will do so automatically only when it has a valid GS signal starting when you are well below the glideslope.) The autopilot did a bangup job of bringing us down the chute, even with a strong tailwind.
We went around one more time for a hand-flown ILS 27. I tried learning my lesson and got slowed down in advance of localizer intercept, but this screwed up the controller, who expected me to be going a lot faster relative to the other traffic, and so I was vectored across the final approach course and then back around for another shot. This time I managed to keep the needles close enough to feel some level of redemption for the earlier approaches, and Regis and Kevin were satisfied, so I was done with training (whew.)
We called the on-call A&P with our squawk list, most notably the static system. I got a call later that afternoon (on a Saturday, mind you) saying that everything was fixed. The static system problem turned out to be a bit of tubing that had popped out of a T-connector inside the console (luckily a convenient spot to fix.) They also replaced the altitude preselect unit and a strobe light. On top of everything else, Dale Klapmeier himself came in to install the replacement wingtip, which had been fitted, epoxied, cured, and painted in about 24 hours. Talk about service!
John and I planned our departure for Sunday morning, as the weather was coming in from the west and it looked ugly (snow in Colorado, tornadoes in Texas.) Our first leg was to Port Huron, MI, to drop off John to visit his parents, and then on to Ann Arbor, MI, to visit my parents and my sister and her family. We departed DLH into a 300’ overcast, but were in the clear by the time we reached Ironwood MI, and cancelled IFR just before Sawyer MI, and decided to have some fun. We rocketed low along the Lake Superior shoreline for awhile, then cut over to Lake Michigan near Naubinway (didn’t see any pasty stands at 3500’; Upper Peninsula residents and visitors will understand) and landed at St. Ignace for fuel. By this time it was sunny and beautiful. Departed out over Lake Huron, hung a right over Mackinac Island, flew along next to the Mackinac Bridge (one of the world’s largest suspension bridges, connecting the Upper and Lower Peninsulas of Michigan), then along the Lake Huron shoreline. Stopped at Alpena (“Cement capital of the world,” as the song goes) to use the phone. Alpena is a dual military/civilian use airport, so I was amused by the standard “cleared to land, check gear down and locked” from the tower. “Cleared to land, gear down and glued, Cirrus 1KD.” Crossed Saginaw Bay at its narrowest, dropped John in Port Huron, then onward to Ann Arbor. Having grown up in Michigan, but having never flown there, I was struck by the twisted sense of scale that flying at over 200mph gives you.
The ALT2 gremlin came back on the trip; every once in awhile the warning light will come on and the alternator will go offline; it then spontaneously heals after a couple of minutes to a couple of hours. Hopefully it’ll get swapped out this week.
We stayed a day with our respective parental units and then I went back to KPTH to pick up John. The weather system that had pounded the midwest was due to hit Michigan that night (predictions of two inch hail and high winds did not materialize in Ann Arbor, but I did manage to find someone to hangar the plane.) The WX predictions looked to be good the next day to get across the country, with deterioration later in the week, so we decided to launch the next morning.
We chose to take a slightly southerly route in order to avoid the weather predicted in the upper midwest, so our route took us to Marion IL (home of the federal maximum security prison), Muskogee OK (adopted home of Merle Haggard), and Elk City OK (home of not a whole lot; the liquid intake earlier in the trip took its prescribed effect.) We saw no weather of any import along the seven or so hours of flight time until we got near Santa Fe, where an amazingly huge towering monster cumulus was sitting at the southern end of the Sangre de Cristo mountains; we deviated slightly to the south to get around it and landed a half hour before sunset.
After a day off flying, we decided to take a side trip to one of our favorite southwest sights from an earlier road trip, Bryce Canyon. We went via Monument Valley, spent a few hours hiking around and taking pictures, and then went back via three Grand Canyon crossings (all but the westernmost low altitude corridor.) Having the Garmin and S-Tec flying the circuitous flight path, totally hands-off, was amazing, allowing us more time to shoot pictures and video and enjoy the view. A shot down the Painted Desert and we were back in Santa Fe by dinner time.
At this point I had two Cirri with nearly identical tail numbers parked side-by-side in a hangar at KSAF, leading to some confusion on the line staff, who pulled out both planes at one point because they weren’t sure which one I wanted (such problems.) The 20 was to be ferried back to California, where a couple of my friends will be taking it off my hands.
We did the final leg yesterday in my suddenly jilted SR20, which I had left for a younger and faster plane. John has a friend in San Diego, so we took a little side trip in that direction (adding about 45 minutes to the total flight time.) Winslow AZ, Thermal CA (94 degrees at -114 MSL), then picking up my IFR flight plan from the Julian VORTAC to Montgomery field, a coupled ILS in anger (OVC017) into Montgomery. Greasy burger lunch at the Boll Weevil with John’s friend Jack.
From there I filed IFR to Santa Barbara to make it easier to get across the San Diego and LA neighborhoods (much less taxing than trying to go VFR and threading through all that airspace.) Montgomery still had a thin overcast, but we were soon on top. I filed the preferred TEC route, but the controllers were kind and kept giving us vectors to cut the corners on the route (hats off to them.) We went directly over the top of LAX and got to watch the airliners climbing up out of the clouds from above, which was way cool. Cancelled IFR at Pt. Mugu, and turned inland.
The three Cokes that I drank at lunch turned on me somewhere along the path, so we decided to stop at San Luis Obispo to eliminate the problem. As we were landing, we noticed a whole bunch of cars and people off the arrival end of 29, along with a crowd at the restaurant. Despite my sizable ego, I soon realized that this welcoming committee was probably not for John and I. Turns out that a B-17 and B-24 were set to arrive in another 15 minutes (which turned into an hour) but we were treated to a low-level flyby followed by a landing of these two impressive beasts (just the sound of them in the flyby was impressive; I tried to imagine what hundreds of them must have sounded like in Europe and my mind was boggled.)
We departed via right closed traffic and our own low pass (the better go get pictures with of the planes on the ground) and headed out to the coast, which we followed up along Big Sur and Monterey, and into the SR20’s permanent home of Watsonville.
All in all, a truly amazing ten days of flying. We probably covered at least 3000 miles, seeing desert, mountains, canyons, three great lakes, an ocean, and a whole lot of flat green stuff.
John has put together a web page for your perusal, subject to updating as we sort through the hundreds of digital pix and gigabytes of digital video that we shot:
(Those who worked their way through this endless prose get the above prize!)