As I noted in my Â“the new ownerÂ” post, I have just purchased a Cirrus SR20.
Kara from Wings Aloft flew into Chicago to meet me on a Sunday. We stayed at the Pawaulkee Airport Motor Inn which as the name implies is right next to the field. The next morning after a thorough pre-flight check we departed Pawaulkee (PWK). While Kara enabled me to fly the plane from the outset, she mercifully took over the radio until we contacted Nashville (BNA) Approach so I could simply concentrate on learning my new aircraft. That being said, the flight below ChicagoÂ’s B airspace was not near as bad as I thought that it would be. In fact, it was down right quiet. For a new pilot with little time especially cross-country, this trip was quit an experience. We went due east to get around OÂ’Hare and we had a tremendous view of downtown Chicago. It was such a treat for me to fly over the coast of the vast Lake Michigan and so close to downtown Chicago. We nearly flew over Meigs airfield. The rest of the trip was uneventful. Other than the thoroughness of the pre-flight, the rest of the flying was I just getting a feel for the aircraft. We did play with the Garmin 430 a little on our trip. The trip took under four hours. Once I became more comfortable with the aircraft and particularly the side yoke and electronic trim, tracking my course to BNA was not too difficult. That being said after a couple of hours we put it on autopilot and it was a breeze; the altitude hold is nice. The trip was smooth flying and decent visibility until we reached Kentucky where the haze lowered our visibility and we picked up some bumps during our descent in Nashville. As many have noted, re-stating the make and model of the SR20 becomes routine. I must admit that it does not bother me one bit. I feel like I did when I was the first kid in the neighborhood with a new toy.
After landing in Nashville, I had my wife come out to the airport to see the new addition to the family. I was pleased to see her look when she first saw it. My wife and I both had our private pilot check rides on the same day last year thus we have about the same level of experience. This new plane was just what the doctor ordered. My wife and I were just blessed with a child (our first) just 8 weeks before and as many of you can imagine/remember although it has been wonderful being new parents, it is also a little overwhelming. That week was the first time that she had flown since March. It was great for her confidence and self-esteem. Up until then, her past 8 weeks was baby, baby, and baby.
My wife and I decided to retain Kara for most of the week which I am glad I did. It enabled us to both get in enough flying time and take our time with ground school even with some grounding Â– thunderstorms are a daily possibility in Tennessee in August. The week went well and Kara was great. By the way, the checklist and the manual that Wings Aloft put together are excellent. Below are some of my thoughts on the Cirrus SR20.
Comments on my SR20:
Side-yoke Â– It does not take very long to get use to. It presents a much cleaner display and provides more room. The electronic trim takes some time to get down, especially for me since I have never had the option.
Seats Â– I have the leather seats. I do not think that they can look sharper. I love how the seats rise as you pull it closer to the front. For short guys like myself this certainly helps with visibility.
Composite airframe with aluminum flight controls Â– Some mechanics I know that work on Cessna Citations like the metal flight controls. Apparently, it is a pain in the ass to have to replace them when they are all composite.
Wow factor Â– For those of use who like to feel special, the SR20 fits the bill. From Ground to Departure ATC are full of questions.
Climb out Â– I am happy with it. Granted I am comparing it with a Sundowner that I flew as recently as June, but at near full gross with high humidity and heat that was reflected in a density altitude of 4,000, I had no problem.
Oil temp - I believe that I have read on here that oil temp has been a problem for some. I saw no real issue in my aircraft, and we were doing a lot of sitting on the ground and touch and goes in heat index of 110 degrees. However, as I had said in my previous post my oil temp gauge failed recently. I do not yet know what the problem is.
Landing gear Â– solid; unfortunately I have found out already. Kara had me do a short field landing. On my first attempt after cross the numbers, I allowed myself to get too slow too earlier/high. I started to drop quickly. While I put in some power, I still bounced quite hard and performed a go-around. Needless to say, after that I did not skip the checklist procedure of checking the ELT. There was no red light thank goodness. The front wheel is sometimes a little squirrelly when it first is set down, but I love its turn ability on the ground. The directional control via braking does not take that long to get down. The biggest adjustment for me was on the takeoff. A lot of right braking and then right rudder is necessary to keep it in the middle down the runway and at initial lift-off, however, after that only a little input is necessary.
Landing Â– The attitude of the aircraft during the landing and the lack of a flare (or at least that is how it appears to those use to a C-172) is initially difficult to get use to. Kara kept having to tell me to keep it where I had it while I wanted to pull back into a flare. I am not sure what happened, but I went from one day having poor landings to pretty much nailing three or four the next day. Of course I certainly do not think that I am anywhere close to mastering it consistently. Give me a nice solid crosswind and who knows how Â“nicelyÂ” I will land. You certainly do not want to get too slow on your landing; and too fast, you will use up a lot of runway as ground effect hits and you find yourself smoking down the runway. If you have a lot of runway, it is no big deal for the experienced pilot, especially one use to coming in fast, but for me it was a strange feeling the first time that I came in so fast and was forced to fly it down the runway longer than I was use to.
It sounds like the SR20 lands exactly like a Grumman Tiger. For those low time pilots like myself who are use to flying C-172Â’s and Archers, if you can find a Tiger to rent you may wish to go up with a CFI to get use to that landing picture. Something else that gives you that Â“flatÂ” picture is the Sundowner. Like the Sundowner, it is best to be on the numbers on your final. In my limited experience in both the Sundowner and SR20, I believe that the SR20 is easier to land (at least it is more forgiving).
Garmin 430 / ARNAV - I love the combo. I like the ARNAV for situational awareness. Its large size is nice. I understand that it is not nearly as good as everyone had hoped, but for now it works for me. I think the Garmin 430 is excellent. I have only learned the basics, and I love it. Unfortunately, I do not have a Stormscope since I have the Â“AÂ” configuration. During the stormy month of August in Tennessee, that would be a nice feature.
Visibility Â– other than the fact that visibility was only 5-10 miles due to haze; the visibility is excellent in front and back; I flew backseat one day while my wife was flying front seat with Kara; not a bad ride in the back seat; for a low wing it has excellent visibility below.