I’ve always looked forward to passing check rides and earning ratings. Flight training in general is an enjoyable experience, but nothing beats the feeling of getting the final endorsement or receiving a new certificate in the mail. A few weeks ago I jumped on a special pricing deal at a nearby flight school (Kal-Aero), offering high performance endorsements in a Cessna 182 for a flat rate of $250. This would include up to 2 hours of flight time in the aircraft, and any necessary ground time. I had some scholarship money that I wanted to use for some flying outside of Western, so this was a perfect opportunity. I contacted one of the instructors that works at Kal-Aero who is also an alumni member of our Alpha Eta Rho chapter, and we set up a time that worked for both of us to fly.
The lesson started out with a quick ground, reviewing the definition of a high performance aircraft. This would just be any aircraft that has an engine with more than 200hp and has a constant speed propeller. The main challenge associated with flying a high performance airplane is learning to manage the pitch of the propeller, adjusting for proper manifold pressure and RPM. I had studied up before coming, so we only took about 20 minutes before heading out to preflight the airplane.
The Cessna 182 was a beautiful shade of blue, and it just looked like something fun to fly. We filled up with a full tank of gas, and got going right away. One of the main differences in the run-up was adjusting the prop control back and forth to check that the pitch is adjusting properly; this also helped cycle the warm oil throughout the propeller hub system. We taxied out to the runway, and got immediately cleared for a departure with “no delay”. With all the extra power, we climbed out at almost 2,000fpm. We also reduced power right away while still in the climb out, just to make sure we didn’t overheat/overstress the engine. It was also only my second time flying in a Cessna high-wing airplane, so it was fun getting used to the new sight picture and scan technique. The view out each side window looks very different in a steep turn, compared to a Cirrus or Piper low-wing.
After slightly over an hour of flying, we did a planned descent back to the Kalamazoo airport. My instructor explained that we don’t want to shock cool the cylinders, so it’s important to keep the manifold pressure in the green arc as much as possible. This makes it necessary to keep a lot of power in, so it’s not easy to “chop and drop” like you might in other planes. Using S-turns or 360 degree turns are a good technique to help get down to an assigned altitude without reducing power past the acceptable level.
For the last part of the flight, we practiced some pattern work and landings. The C182 tends to drop very quickly with the flaps extended, so I found it worked best to keep a lot of power in until we were in ground effect. As soon as I brought the power to idle, we’d start to sink right away. Pulling back on the yoke made the plane pitch up and touch down on the two main wheels nicely. All three of my landings were quite firm, but as long as I held the nose gear up, the plane seemed to land just fine.
After we taxied back in to the ramp and parked, all that was left to do was get my logbook signed and endorsed. We debriefed the flight and talked about some tips to remember for future flights in high performance planes. Overall it was a fun morning, and it was really quite easy to do. I’m happy to have one more endorsement finished, and maybe it will be useful at some point if I get to fly an SR22 or some other faster plane. Now this week I’ll just be flying in the Seminole again and working on my pattern in that. This semester is finishing out perfectly for me!