I had a request off-list to post a description of the rest of my flight home, so here goes…
When I posted last week, we had just taken a commercial flight back to the DC area from Chicago, since we had gotten stuck there due to the ice/snow storm that moved into the area. So I kept watching the weather and on Wednesday night it looked like Thursday might just work out.
So I changed my flight to go back to Chicago on Wednesday night (thankfully southwest airlines is so good about last minute changes). Thursday morning I got up and Chicago was CAVU. Most of the route through Indiana, Ohio, and West Virginia was broken to overcast at 2,500, which was kind of a bummer – freezing levels were at the surface so I didn’t want to spend a lot of time in the clouds, plus I had wanted to stay VFR at least until I was a little more familiar with the plane. But the good news was that the tops were forecast to be 6,000 and a couple pireps mentioned the tops being 4500-5000. I figured being on-top would be okay, since even if there was an engine failure or something, I’d break out at 2,500 AGL, which wouldn’t be that bad. So I took off from Dupage airport near Chicago, climbed to 9,500 (above the clouds plus a good tailwind) and flew VFR-over-the-top on autopilot most of the way home. It was great, really clear above the clouds and very little traffic. ATC was very helpful although one controller kept calling me “Sierra” instead of “Cirrus”. Anyway, near DC I picked up an IFR clearance to descend through the very thin broken layer of clouds near home, then cancelled IFR underneath and made an uneventful landing back at GAI.
Overall comments: the plane flew great, and it was a kick getting 180-185 kt groundspeeds. Altitude hold is really nice on long flights (the rentals I’ve been flying have had A/Ps but no altitude hold). I did find the Arnav more useful than I thought I would, since it’s easier to get a better view of what’s ahead (given that it’s so much larger than the 430 screen). The A/P tracked about 1/4 dot left of course the whole way, which I’ll probably have them look at when I bring it in for its first oil change. Also, the oil pressure was at the extreme top of the green and sometimes went a needle-width or two into the yellow. I was told that new engines often have higher oil pressures, so I’m just gonna keep an eye on it for now and see if it continues (probably also mention it when I get the first service done).
This weekend we went for another flight and it was a great day so lots of folks out at the airport. I had 4 or 5 people walk up to me and want to know more info about the plane, which was a nice feeling. I also got to see the Apollo MX60 moving map (I think that’s the model number, not sure), in one guy’s Mooney. THe screen is smaller than the Arnav – it’s standard radio-stack-width. But the resolution was incredible.
Anyway, both my wife and I are very happy with the plane and with Cirrus. I’m hoping the snow stops today so that I can go up again after work tonight and try my first couple of night landings in the SR20.