My Low Wing Checkout

A couple of things led up to this. First, there is a club rule about currency - you have to make at least 3 landings every 60 days or you can't fly without getting a checkride with an instructor. This is an insurance thing, so we deal with it. I wasn't out of currency, but it was coming up. I needed to get out and do three landings. And go fly around a while, no sense wasting the trip. :-)

Second, the Flying Vikings were supposed to station a Piper Warrior at Rancho Murieta, but it had been getting overhauled or something and hadn't been out here yet. Well, about a week or two before this flight it made it out. It's a low wing plane, which is just different enough to require a check ride in it from an instructor. So I figured I'd kill two birds with one stone and do my three landings while getting a checkout in a low wing plane,

February 5, 2003. The last day of my currency. If I didn't do it today, I'd have to go up with an instructor the next time I flew regardless of which plane it was in. The weather had only been decent for about three days, it'd been pretty crappy before that. But it held, it was a beautiful day. I scheduled some time with Donn to go up and figure this thing out.

Well, the first curve was that it was hangered. Not a big deal, I just had to figure out which hanger, get the plane out, and preflight it. I got the hanger on the second try, got the door opened, and started going through the preflight process. The concepts are all the same, but the things you gotta look at and/or touch are all in different places, so it took a while. But I was in no hurry, I was here to learn.

It's a really cool plane. It had just been painted, and the seats looked newly covered. I didn't care, it was a cool looking plane. I have this thing for low wing planes. I don't know where I got it, but that's just what an airplane is SUPPOSED to look like, y'know? Cessna's are fine, I don't have any problem with them, it's just an asthetic thing. I like low wing planes. :-)

There are a few differences, like the throttle and mixture controls. They're different. Well, so's carb heat. The two biggest things were flaps and the elevator trim. The trim was the least of the two, and technically on this plane it was 'stabilator' trim, not 'elevator', but it was just in a different spot. The big difference was the flaps. In a 172, there is a big, flat toggle swtich on the instrument panel that you push to move the flaps. In the Warrior, it is like an emergency/parking brake in a small car - the lever in the floor between the seats. Pull up on it to lower the flaps, and push the button on the end and push down to raise them. It's not hard, and lots of people say they prefer it to the switch, it's just different.

Oh, and there's a fuel pump that has to be turned on on take offs and landings. In the high wing plane, gravity feeds the fuel. In a low wing, a pump feeds the fuel.

We did the standard stuff - stalls, turns, slow flight, landings, steep turns, a simulated emergency... I had a ball. Did fairly well, too. I had a tendency to come in low on the landings and flair early, but not bad. Just not textbook.

Anyway, we came back and parked the plane outside the hanger, and I swear I started to reach for the flap lever to set the parking brake. :-) I caught myself, though. We got it fueled and pushed back into the hanger, and now I can go get it whenever I want. The only thing stopping me is $80/hour...

The only difference between men and boys is the size and price of their toys...

Email me!
Back to Flying Main Page
Back to Home Page