Like many of you I still find a number of things in this site that are entertaining and occasionally informative so I peek in for entertainment and education on occasion ;-). I am thrilled to see others with their planes commenting and experiencing what I have known now for nearly a year Â… hard to believe it has been that long.
As of early June, my SR20 has about 315 Hobbs hours on it. We have made numerous trips virtually all over California. With relatives in Southern CA (Oceanside - Escondido) I have found myself flying through and around the LA Basin frequently. Most of the time I file and fly IFR and nearly always get just prior to reaching the LA Basin Â… “we have a change in routing for you advise when ready to copy”. I am not sure what it is about LA, but they have to make your day a little difficult. I anticipate I will not load IFR flight plans into the 430, just the first few fixes between here and San Diego I always get a reroute or two. Even preferred routes aren’t always followed. Oh well let me focus on the SR20 not ATC. The only other comment/question I get is verify type aircraft. Now without even thinking I tell them “We are a Cirrus, like the clouds, SR20” and generally that seems to satisfy them. If ATC is not too busy I frequently get some additional curiosity questions that I am only too happy to answer
In May Kevin Moore and I took a trip to Kansas (Clyde posted my email to him). We left as a major heat wave struck the coast and mid section of the country. Our route, which Kevin flew, was from Palo Alto over Lake Tahoe and down the Eastern side of the Sierras to Page, AZ (where we spent the night) Southeast thru ABQ then direct El Dorado, KS.
The first day: we left PAO about 9 AM climbed to 11,500. It wasn’t too hot at that time so getting to 11,500 was not difficult. We crossed Lake Tahoe and headed through the Sierras using pilotage and the GNS 430. The 430 is great at confirming your course (more on that later). We landed in Bishop, CA for lunch. The temp on the ground was in the mid 90s. Of course, we filled the tanks. With full fuel AND both sets of golf clubs plus nearly all our earthly possessions on board, which for Kevin was all the stuff for his new plane including a step ladder, tie down stakes, flight bags (mine and his Â… his alone weighted 30#. Kevin’s comment: "I have to get to the
bottom of this bloody bag’s weight problem. I think it’s the fire extinguisher; even now that I’m not
toting headsets in the bag, it’s still heavy!"), and clothes for a week, we clawed our way back into the sky. I estimate we were at gross weight plus a few. Take off was uneventful, but climbing was HOT both inside and under the “hood”. CHT was 400 to 415 in the climb and oil temps were 200 to 230! When we leveled off, both CHT and oil temps would drop. In cruise, CHT would drop to about 350 to 370 and oil temps would drop to the 180 to 190 range. We again were climbed to 11,500, which took some time to reach. When needed for cooling, we increased airspeed, sacrificing climb performance. We proceeded over Death Valley (talk about hot) to a point about 25 miles west of Las Vegas. We found out that hot, high, and heavy suck the performance out of most planes and that the Cirrus was no exception. From there we cruised over Las Vegas and Lake Mead to Echo Bay, NV, which is on the shore of Lake Mead. From Lake Mead we went direct to Page, AZ (with an intermediate stop at Colorado City, AZ where we “watered” the local vegetation. Kevin refers to it as “contributing some fixed nitrogen to the ecology”)
Fuel at Page was $2.25 (cheap by CA standards) and the folks at Texaco were super. They provided shuttle service to the Best Western Arizona Inn, where we stayed. The motel provided a shuttle back to the airport. The restaurant was next door with a stunning view of Lake Powell.
The second day: We and many other pilots were at the airport early. Those who fly know the benefits of cool, smooth early morning air. We arrived at the airport at 6:30AM and were off just before 7AM. The take off is normally toward Lake Powell as it was this morning. The view is spectacular! If you haven’t been to Lake Powell and Page you ought to put that location up there in your “top 10 list”. Temps were, as I recall, high 60s to low 70s Â… perfect. We headed down to ABQ, where Kevin had lived as a youngster. He seemed to know his way pointing out various mountains and ground formations Â… he was still “driving”. The trip was relatively smooth, but performance was still slow. We calculated TAS several times. We were at 2500 RPM and max manifold pressure and were only getting about 148 to 150 TAS at altitudes of 9,500 to 11,500, which were less than I had been experiencing. Denisty altitudes were at least 2,000 feet higher than indicated altitudes, as we recall. We talked about how slow we were. While we chalked it up to the very hot weather, I was concerned about the drop in performance. When the news came, via the internet, that Rob Leach was having problems with engine compression, my concerns heightened. While the engine seemed to be running fine, there was this nagging feeling that maybe something is wrong. I did talk with Bill Marvel, who I knew from AYA and Tiger days, about the problem. Bill is an A&P and quite well respected. Since Bill had flown to the West Coast with Rob Leach, I asked him if he had seen or experienced any kind of noticeable sign of an engine problem. He said NO. He indicated that a compression check is like taking one’s temperature Â… if it is abnormal there is something wrong. Then the trick is to find out what.
When we got to El Dorado, KS and Kevin hooked up with Todd and Mary Jo Peterson, the builders of the 260SE STOL C182, Todd did a compression check on my engine. The compressions were fine (Clyde posted them somewhere else on this web site) so I was relieved. It was clear to me that being hot, high, and heavy was really the culprit of the reduced performance. After all Kevin was getting a Cessna that was going to do 153 TAS and I couldn’t have my Cirrus doing less than that! I wonÂ’t spend any time talking any more about Kevin’s machine Â… he can do that.
After hanging around in El Dorado for a few days of training I was ready to leave. ( El Dorado doesn’t even have a movie theater!) However, Kevin was stuck in that he had some avionics issues to deal with. If he wasn’t sure all systems worked properly it was a long way back to get the problem(s) fixed. Kevin had to wait. The weather was closing in and if I didn’t leave I would be there for a few more days (seems like weeks). I opted to mount up and head west.
I left El Dorado, KS about 1:30PM heading generally west and checking weather through FSS on the way. It appeared the thunderstorms were building in the OK and TX panhandle Â… the route I was going to take back Â… so I decided to head to Colo. Springs. The trip was a little bumpy with a few widely scattered thunderstorms. I gave them a wide berth. I pulled into Colo. Springs, unloaded my bags, got aboard the shuttle, and the skies opened up. The rain came down hard for about an hour. If I had been delayed for another 20 minutes I would have doing a 180, but timing was with me. Spent the night at the Ramada in COS…
The next morning I checked weather (via my laptop – Destination Direct Software, which is excellent for getting and reviewing weather) – and decided to headed south via ABQ again. There were some thunderstorms over the Moab and Page, AZ area. The one thing I didn’t need was thunderstorms in the Rockies. The southern route would be fine with me albeit longer. As I proceeded south over Pubelo, CO I noticed the sky was clear and the early morning ride was smooth as silk so I deviated and headed west from Pubelo north of the Spanish Peaks mountains. As I crossed the first ridge at 10,500 I checked the skies and with FSS about heading over La Manga and Cumbre Pass. Things looked good. If I could get over those passes, it was down hill all the way. I checked the sectionals and measured the radial and distance to each of the passes from a VOR. I loaded a user waypoint into the 430. I then modified my 430 flight plan to incorporate those new way points. Damned if it didn’t absolutely put me right there. I got a real kick out of it. Now mind you I have loaded user waypoints before but not ones that were so critical to navigation as these were. I followed along as the flight progressed with my fresh sectionals. I was pleased to see the 430 doing such a great job of confirming my route. For those of you with 430s (Cirrus or not) that is one fantastic piece of equipment. Loading user waypoints by Lat/Long is a pain for me. I would much rather enter radial and distance as I did in this case and it was “on the money”. My 430 now has some passes in its user database.
After crossing the passes I headed for the Four Corners airport where I picked up fuel. Like a lot of stops a number of people gathered. I spent some time talking about the SR20 and its avionics with several interested mechanics and transit flyers. When I left Four Corners I headed out across monument valley. I got a great shot of Ship Rock and drank in the scenery on the way to the Grand Canyon. I skirted the Grand Canyon to the South. Too bad the Grand Canyon is so restricted now. However, even skirting it to the south you still can see much of the Canyon, but you are not close of enough to take any pictures that are worth developing. It is fun nevertheless.
From south of the Canyon I headed to Daggett-Barstow, CA, which took me south of Las Vegas. At Barstow I took on fuel and a Klondike bar (lunch) and headed home to Monterey. Temp at Daggett was 95 degrees Â… ugh. The trip up the “valley” was uneventful, slow (headwinds), but pleasant. When I landed in MRY it was such a treat to open the door and feel as if God had air conditioned all the out of doors. The temp was 72 degrees at 2:30PM. It was great to be home in God’s country!
This trip covered nearly 3,000 miles and 21+ hours of flying. Fuel consumption was a little under 10 gph for the whole trip and I added but 1 quart of oil