Picking up 163CD

On Thursday, 9/21/00, I took a 6:30am Northwest flight to Duluth via Minneapolis to pick up 163CD. As we rolled out on 33 I saw the Cirrus Design building off to the left, with it’s overflowing parking lot and three gleaming SR20s on the ramp. My pulse quickend.

An Avis rental car was waiting at the curb just outside the baggage claim area. On my way to the Days Inn, I stopped by the reception desk at Cirrus just to let them know that I had arrived.
With difficulty, I resisted asking for an advance peek at my bird. I was greeted warmly and given assurance that everything was in order for the acceptance process to begin at 9am and the Wings Aloft training after lunch.

Needless to say, I arrived at 9am sharp. I was met promptly by Alison, the Cirrus Contract Administrator. Alison handed me some safety glasses and a checklist and proudly led me to the end of the production line where 163CD sat gleaming. My heart was in my throat.

The ground portion of the check out took about 20 minutes. Everything was just as I ordered: Blue trim, yellow scimter, leather, C model, two-blade prop. I did the flight portion of the acceptance process with Sean, who I think might have been a new Wings Aloft instructor in training. We did a very thorough preflight using the Wings Aloft checklist. I did the taxi and takeoff after which Sean did most of the flying while I continued through the acceptance checklist. The weather was IFR; so I was quite happy to see that the Garmins were functioning. Everything else worked too. I shot the ILS 33 approach back to DLH and landed without difficulty. Flight time was about 40 minutes.

Back on the ground I again met with Alison to finish off the the paper work. In the end, I handed her my check and received a pink temporary registration showing me as the owner of Serial Number 67, N163CD.

Alison then took me to meet Mike Bush, who handed me the thick warantee package and discussed maintenece and technical support issues. He reinforced my impression that Cirrus is strong on custumer service and stands ready to assist with any problems that might arise.

Tom Bergeron happend to be in town. He took me to lunch at a nearby sandwich shop where we talked about his old web page and his efforts to land a job at Cirrus. Tom was hoping to pick up an SR20 for some demo flights, but none were available. The company was having a picnic on Sunday and needed every airplane they had to give their employees rides.

At 1:00pm I meet with Kara, my Wings Aloft trainer. The weather had deteriorated even further; so we decided to go through the ground training and hope for improved flight conditions on Saturday. Kara gave a well organized powerpoint presentation of each of the ground lessons. I had answered all of the questions and done all of the computations in the Wings Aloft Training Manual prior to my arrival. Without exception, my answers agreed with Kara’s; so we were able to get through the whole of the ground training by early afternoon.

After a stop at Days Inn to clean up, I drove down to the Fetzgers Brewery complex where there is qute a good little microbrewery and a couple of places for more formal dining. They have a very good porter and some nice ales. I recommend the Pub Burger. After my meal I took a refreshing walk along the lake to Canal Park and then back along the main street to my car in the Fetzgers parking structure.

Kara appeared promptly at 9am. I called the weather and found that it was IFR just about everywhere locally. The briefer thought we might get above the clouds over toward Hibbing. I filed IFR to Hibbing. Kara followed me through the preflight, startup and taxi pointing out little things here and there. One small problem I had with the taxi was getting the throttle back when coming to a stop. At the point that the lever felt to be back, I was still getting around 1300 rpms. The Lightspeeds make things much quiter than I am used to; I will have to become more sensitive to hear different power settings.

We were in the clouds all the way to Hibbing where I did the full approach including a procedure turn, a missed approach and a hold. The Garmin’s and the MFD make instrument flying almost effortless. We found a clear area near Hibbing where we did various manuevers: steep turns, power on and power off stalls, simulated engine out, emergency decent, etc. Then we went back to Hibbing and did normal landings with and with and without flaps. We also did a spot landing, soft and short field landings and takeoffs. I found no difficulty at all with any of the manuevers, takeoffs or landings. I did another instrument approach back to DLH. After shutdown, Kara signed me off and presented me with a Cirtifcate of Completion, dated 9/23/2000.

Our total flight time was about 4 hours.

Early Sunday morning I arrived at the Cirrus ramp to fly N163CD back to San Diego. The plant was closed and I had to hop the fence to get to my airplane. It was covered with a thick layer of frost from the freezing Canadian air that had swept down during the night. As I was pondering how to clean off the wings, Ian Bently showed up to preflight his Baron for a trip to Florida. Ian helped me pull my airplane into the heated Cirrus hangar. After a cup of coffee, I was able to wipe the wings off with a towel. Back on the ramp, I followed the cold start procedures, but she did not want to come to life. Rather than run the battery down, we hooked up a boost and the Cirrus folks helped me with the start. I think it just needed some preheat. I have had no starting problems since.

I needed to avoid some weather along the route to San Diego. I got a direct clearance from DLH to Suix Falls. There was huge ugly cell in southern Nebraska reaching all the way through Wyoming and Colorado. I elected to press further west to Rapid City with the idea that I might be able to pass behind the worst of it by going south from Rapid City. About half way to Rapid City I could see some clearing to the south so I asked the Garmin to take me Direct to Pueblo. I pushed NAV and ALT and then sat back to have a look at the charts.

Pueblo had 2800’, 10 miles, and an airshow in progress. The tower there is also Pueblo Approach. Since the tower had the PA on for the airshow, my entire approach and landing was broadcast to the crowd. The controller kept calling me a Cessna and I kept correcting him with “Cirrus.” Then he announced that an experimental aircraft was about to land behind a MIG 15. When I stopped laughing I corrected him again. I had planned to stop in Pueblo. However, since the flight had been so effortless, and I was not the least bit tired, I decided to go on to Page, AZ. I got an IFR to VFR on top. I broke out at about 13,000 and then marched right up to 16,500 for a direct flight to Page. I was glad that I had sent the Aerox system to Duluth. The airplane performed great at altitude and I did not have to pick my way through mountain passes in marginal vfr weather. Once I got past the mountains, I came down to get a higher power setting for break in. I stayed at 75% power for nearly the whole trip. Most of the time, I was showing cruise speeds slightly above or below 160KTAS with ground speeds ranging from 140 to 180. The Cirrus is a very comfortable cross- country airplane.

I spent the night in Page at the Best Western with a lively bunch of tourists from England and Germany. I awoke to clear skys and unlimited visibility. Although it was a chilly morning, my new bird came to life willingly and carried me along the south rim of the Grand Canyon over the Colorado River, the Salton Sea, Borrego Valley and on in to MYF San Diego. My most difficult navigation problem was finding the route to my new hangar. After a few wrong turns, N163CD is now resting comfortably in her new home.

I found the whole experience,including the acceptance process, the Wings Aloft training, and the flight back to San Diego to be very enjoyable. I absolutely love my airplane.

Bill Graham


Many thanks for your wonderfully written and very informative account of picking up 163CD. What an experience: flying your brand new Cirrus SR20 along the south rim of the Grand Canyon!!!

Please continue to keep us informed. You know that all of us hopeless SR20 forum junkies will eagerly devour every word!

I am struck with how it seems that everyone who has substantial contact with the folks at Cirrus Design come away very favorably impressed as to their fair dealing and commitment to their customers, among many other things.