The Cirrus is the current pinnacle of single piston-engine GA technology. Others may assert their plane is faster, or carries more, or whatever, but Cirrus is the current leader of sales and product integration. From the twin turbo charged 315 HP engine, to the composite air-frame, to the complete avionics integration, to the full air-frame parachute (called Cirrus Air-frame Parachute System or CAPS), Cirrus has done a lot right with this plane.
Early in the Cirrus' history, there were quite a few accidents, so Cirrus established a standardized flight training program with special emphasis on safety and consistent procedures. This training has greatly reduced the incidence of fatal Cirrus accidents. In my opinion, the manufacturer has a significant interest in their product NOT killing their customers -- nor even having a reputation of killing their customers. So they take this training very seriously, even presenting it as elite, or mystical, or... almost to the point of an evangelistic theology zeal. They don't say it out-right but it can seem like they are thinking "morally superior pilots have taken the Cirrus Transition training." (Note: Eric disagrees with my perceptions here.)
Since Eric and I had made cross country flights together in the past, we knew how to cooperate well in the cockpit. Eric also wanted the comfort of the extra cross-country experience in the cockpit, so he invited me to join him on the flight. The plane came with four days of transition training for the new owner, but none for me. A couple weeks before the plane was to be picked up we procured the training materials, and I worked through them. Eric and I went to a local flight school to get some experience in a comparable Cirrus to reduce surprises for me in the plane.
And you don't "fly" this plane, you more manage its systems. Power forward. Lots of right rudder. Airspeed alive. Nose up. Climb straight ahead. 600 feet AGL acknowledge the parachute can be used. Press the autopilot button. Watch.
And the autopilot is the best one I have encountered in a GA airplane.
I got in a couple landings. They were not as smooth as I had hoped or wanted, but they were adequate.
Eric took an airliner to Knoxville TN where he picked up his new airplane and got his transition training. He then flew his plane to Asheville NC to spend a couple days with his family. I took an airliner to Asheville on the 15th where we spent the night at his parent's home. It was my first ever trip to North Carolina, so I got to check off another state.
Eric's parents made a family adventure out of bringing us to the airport in the morning. They are spectacularly kind people. Eric would be PIC for the flight, since it is his plane, his insurance, and he had just received all the training. But he agreed to let me do a landing in Asheville so I could also check North Carolina off my "land in all 50 states" list.
KAVL to KSLO
Back to the runway, we lined up, pushed the power lever forward, broke the surly bonds of earth, and began our journey. At 600 feet, we made our "CAPS available" call, switched to the departure controller, and hit the autopilot button. The plane climbed into a monster 60-plus knot headwind pushing against our progress. At 10,000 feet the plane leveled off, and we sat back to watch it fly.
Up we went out of North Carolina, over Tennessee, Kentucky, the corner of Indiana, and into Illinois. We did a touch and go and then landed in Salem IL just over 3 hours later to refuel. My second new state.
We had hoped to make a landing in Missouri, North of St. Louis, but the winds were not giving us any help making forward progress and we were going to run late into the day if we spent too much time airport hopping.
KSLO to KLCG
Had the winds allowed us to make it north of St Louis on the previous leg, and had we not continued to fight a headwind on this leg, we may have been able to stretch the trip from Asheville to Rapid City into just two flights. But the wind had taken its toll and we stopped in Wayne Nebraska to top the plane off.
KLCG to KRAP
La Quinta adjoining the the Watikti Water Park. The next time was with Eric on the way to Oshkosh in 2014, and we ended up at Fairfield Inn, This time we stayed at the new addition, The Residence Inn. It is newer and the nicest of the three.
We spent that night debating going around a weather system to the south through Boise, or attempt to fly through or over it. We deferred the debate to the morning when the next weather report was due. We didn't rush too much in the morning. The free shuttle took us back to where the plane had been safely tucked away for the night in WestJet's hangar.
KRAP to KMSO
Air traffic control alerted us to traffic to the left of our nose and closing. Eric and I searched the sky and finally spotted it. Zipping past us on the left about a mile a way was a small L-39 trainer Jet. Somebody was out having fun in their toy.
We eventually were vectored down for the approach into Missoula. In preparation it appeared we were going to pass through a layer of clouds, so we prepped the TKS system and got a bit of deice fluid out on the wings. Our route flew us around the clouds and we never touched any of them.
We borrowed the crew car from Minuteman Aviation and headed into town for a nice lunch.
KMSO to KRNT
When we crossed the Cascade Mountains, the controllers told us to initiate our descent and began the vectoring process to the Renton airport. In just over two hours. we were taxing Eric's plane up to its new home.
Two days, coast to coast, middle of winter -- never touched a single cloud. Amazing. Full Photo Album.
|Adding North Carolina and Illinois|