Saturday, September 4, 2010

CT Scan

I showed up at the airport for my weekly commute to our other campus and found a Flight Design CT parked on the ramp. I knew right away that I would be impressed because it was parked facing in the opposite direction from everyone else, which was into the wind.

Flight Design claims a cruise speed of 115KTAS at 75% power, which means burning 5.5gph. It has a 6 hour range. This is not a toy. Better yet, it had an all-glass panel, so one could really learn to fly 21st Century style. It's certified as a Special-LSA so you can't fly it IFR, but you could still learn a lot about modern IFR flying.

The pilots -- two of them -- were delivering it from Michigan to Oregon. Despite the fancy glass, through, they had a bunch of sectional charts laid out on a table and were picking a route through the mountains of Idaho and Oregon. I offered some local advice, which turned out to be exactly what they were planning. Like I said, smart guys!

The sectional charts intrigue me, because as much as I am enjoying my new Garmin I find that I can't let go of the paper. A couple of weeks ago, I was trying to get across the Wyoming Range, and couldn't find the route I liked on the Garmin; a quick look at a sectional reminded me of the route I had used many times.

The other day I was in a similar situation (mountains between here and there) and tried the Terrain page to see if that would helped. I didn't need help; I could see my house, and I knew how to navigate back to the airport. But the only way to get to know a new tool is to use it in a situation where you know the right answer and then compare what it says to what you know.

In this case, the correspondence was good enough, but I'll still need more practice before I get to be more confident in it.

Another thing about the Garmin: I'll be flying along and get some bright idea (in other words, stupid idea) about something I would like it to do for me. So I start searching the menus for the "Airport Restaurant Tip Calculator" or some other obscure feature. This is a good time for the autopilot to be on; otherwise the heading will wander. Substantially.

But none of the airplanes I fly regularly has altitude hold. So far, every bright idea for the Garmin costs me 200 feet. That has to improve...

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At September 4, 2010 at 10:46 PM , Blogger Tim said...

Try refolding a sectional in a single seat glider. I couldn't even fly the plane or see in front of me. Give me a moving map any day, or at least sectionals that are small enough to read in a glider.


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