Saturday, November 21, 2009

Cirrus SR22 Flight Time

Mike B and I traded emails Friday afternoon and he asked if I was available for some right seat safety pilot time in the Cirrus SR22 on Saturday. Well, let me think, oh hell yeah I'm available! Mike sent me a text this morning and as I was texting back he followed up with a call. We were on for the SR22 flight. I would have taken us to Lancaster in the Sundowner but it's still at the shop. I offered to drive since Mike was providing the airplane so we decided to leave from my home. I swapped vehicles around so he didn't have to park on the street and Mary was getting ready to head out to visit her Mom in the Hospital and check on Pop.

Traffic was moving at a pretty good pace this morning as Mike and I retraced the path Rob and I made on the North East Flyer's Lancaster Fly-In. This time I was ready for the Rt. 30 bypass around Lancaster, it went much quicker. We found a parking spot close to the main door of Dutch Country Helicopters and unloaded our gear. This was a switch, Mike had the bag full of charts, checklists, headsets and anything else we might need and I was holding on to an AOPA headset bag with my Zulu's and knee board. We walked through the building and out on the ramp sat our ride for the day. A gorgeous SR22 trimmed in blue that screamed hot hot hot. I know, Mary and I just bought a plane and we both love it but someday I see us flying a Cirrus, hey it's my dream.
Ok, back to reality. Mike performed an extensive preflight and I followed around trying to soak this new stuff in. The Cirrus has the same fuel caps as the Beech except free of paint and on a much smaller scale, so easy to flip open and lock shut. A few things that caught my eye compared to the SR20. There is an 18-inch extension at each wing tip. The wider span provides more wing area, to better distribute the higher wing loading and improve initial climb and high altitude performance. Cirrus engineers also mounted a vortex generator on the fuselage just ahead of each wing root to keep air flow attached to the wing at higher angles of attack, which improves low-speed handling. The last change I noticed was the change in height, the SR22 sat a few inches higher then the SR20. I notice this stuff since I have to make the step up with the new hip parts. I would think this will help eliminate some of the prop strikes with the added clearance. While Mike finished up the preflight I pulled the chocks then climbed inside. It was chilly out today standing in the shade of the hangar. Once we were both buckled in we set up the cockpit with our headsets, secured the water bottles and flight gear. The preflight was completed and it was time to wake this 310hp monster from her early morning slumber. If I could only insert a few Tim the tool man Taylor grunts, it would be perfect.
We taxied out after contacting ground and were cleared to runway three one via Delta, Alfa and Bravo for our south east departure. We had to wait on three arrivals before we were instructed take off. Looking back I noticed there were a few planes waiting in line to depart, thankfully we were number one to go. Mike advanced the throttle and we were on the roll. If you read my post about the SR20 flight back in July you may remember my comment on take off that "This baby was screaming and it sure scoots along faster then the Archer", well take it up a few notches. Holy smokes, 310HP really push you in the seat and a roar is more the description then screaming down the runway.
I had a smile stuck on my face like a little kid at Christmas. Unlike the SR20 that needs some runway the SR22 jumped into the air and climbed as they say, like a homesick angel, I have goose bumps typing this. Things were happening fast as we followed our right turn on course as directed by the tower. The field was slipping away beneath us and we were looking at some ugly haze and cloud layers ahead. We leveled off to stay under the first layer then let 317G have her head as she pulled through the clearing and topped the next layer with ease. What a great feeling to point the nose and get to the spot you are looking at without concerns. We were hauling the mail as they say, moving along at a good clip holding 170 knots ground speed. The sun was shining on the misty haze layer below and the reflection was really bright. I could see the top of the Chesapeake Bay off our right wing and I mentioned that 08Romeo is parked down there at Elkton. Hopefully planes are like dogs, they don't really care who your with when your not with them and they love you when they see you with no strings attached. I really need to get 08R home and get some left seat time in the log. I'm instantly brought back to reality here as I hear a change in the engine hum of 317G. Mike noticed my quick glance over at him and he said that was me, as he throttled back the power.
We were turning on course for KCGE, Cambridge Dorchester as we crossed our checkpoint KEVY Summit Airport. I was so engrossed in this bird I didn't even pick up flight following although I did have Dover tuned in. I mentioned to Mike that Ridgely has jumpers and they do announce on Approach. It's always good to monitor if not on flight following. The SR22 TCAS was much more efficient then SR20 system as we identified and tracked contacts.
As we approached Cambridge TCAS was looking like a bee hive with planes everywhere. Mike was setting up to fly the GPS 34 approach and I was eyes out searching for traffic and creating the mental picture of tail numbers and locations relative to us and the field. I ID'ed a Cessna departing and one holding short but still could not locate the Mooney on down wind, he blended into the ground cover. Mike was out bound on roughly a 155* heading for the procedure turn and I was making the radio calls. Once turned back in on the approach I stepped up the calls reporting our position and working to blend with traffic. As we approached the field I noticed the traffic had eased and we had an easy shot for the straight in with only one aircraft reporting a 45* entry to the left down wind for three four. I did alert Mike we had a Cessna holding short and that I was watching it just in case we had to go missed. We work pretty good together on that CRM stuff!
Mike crossed the fence at 80 knots and greased the landing, very nice. We taxied to the ramp and found a spot to park, it was time for some lunch at Kay's at the Airport. I would never let my readers down by not reporting on the eats. I ordered up the crab cakes that came out on english muffins covered in cheese just crispy on the top with a tomato smothered in there too. Mike had a tuna salad that was piled high and could have fed two people. We each had a tea in the typical mason jar serving containers. I had to have the sweet tea, which is some of the best around, in my opinion.
Mike filed from KILG to KMDT Harrisburg. The plan was to fly to Wilmington, shoot the ILS 1 approach then pick up the clearance and head to Harrisburg and shoot an approach there before heading back to Lancaster. Mike preflighted and I climbed aboard 317G. The Mooney had left along with a Sierra and a few Cessna's. I think there was maybe two of us left on the ramp. We fired up and taxied out to runway three four and announced our departure. Once again I was very impressed with the power of this bird, not to mention the awesome sound. We were climbing out and heading north for ILG. I dialed in Dover approach and requested flight following, he handed me off to Patuxent.
Ok, Patuxent approach Cirrus 317Golf off of Cambridge 2,200 climbing 5,500 VFR to India Lima Golf. We copied and entered our squawk code and were on our way. We had one traffic call out that we acknowledged 1,000' low and across the nose, no factor. Shortly after the traffic contact we were handed back to Dover. We road along for a bit and we exchanged control of the plane. I was flying the bird and enjoying every second of it. The SR22 handles very smoothly, in turns I had to work to keep the nose level but got used to it fairly quickly. The nose up trim felt good but any touch of nose down trim and you could quickly feel the shift. This ain't your Daddy's family wagon, this here is a sports car.
I transferred the controls back to Mike so I could take a picture of a balloon passing by our right wing tip, actually mike had to dip the wing so I could find my target. I made a request to Dover asking if we could fly the ILS runway 1 into Wilmington when handed off to Philly. Dover turned us over to Philly and off we went. I asked Philly for the ILS runway one approach for ILG, he responded your VFR now? Affirm, VFR requesting the "practice" approach ILS runway 1. Philly gave us vectors for the ILS which consisted of maybe two tuns to intercept the localizer. We were handed off to the Wilmington tower and I checked in with 317G on the ILS with the current ATIS, which escapes me at the moment while I type this. The tower cautioned us for bird activity and indeed there was some feathered foes out there at the threshold. Mike extended to clear the birds, then executed a nice touch and go. We were climbing out for the published missed. ILG handed us off to departure and I made the contact; Philly departure 317Golf on the missed approach ILS runway 1. Mike suggested I should have given a heading flying on the missed, I file that one away. We requested picking up our clearance to KMDT, Harrisburg and advised ready to copy. Philly gave us cleared MDT, radar vectors, V469, maintain 3000. Mike responded with a request for direct MDT, Philly acknowledged.
Philly handed us off to Harrisburg who then provided a few vectors to intercept the ILS Runway 31 approach. We intercepted the Localizer somewhere between the MTJOY intersection and the Final Approach Fix HINTO. Mike was on the instruments, or glass as the case may be and I was eyes out playing safety pilot. We had traffic on the TCAS within 100 feet in altitude crossing left to right across the nose and an audible warning. I alerted Mike right before the audible warning and he went eyes out also to confirm my visual on the traffic. He made an immediate left turn and at the same time Harrisburg approach started to call out our tail number then went quiet. The twin engine traffic passed just off the nose and very close to us. If we were in the soup and didn't have the TCAS we would have had a very rude awakening. Mike was quick with the evasive maneuver and avoided a problem. The twin never flinched, kept on course maybe never saw us. Approach never said another word and we turned back to keep on the localizer. Mike made a nice approach and went missed following the instructions to turn out on a 050* heading and climb to 3000'. Harrisburg gave us a direct to KLNS Lancaster.
The haze was thick and I didn't see LNS until we were 6 miles out. Once handed off to the tower we were directed to enter a left down wind three one and report midfield. I acknowledged and reported, we were now in the home stretch. Another smooth landing and roll out to taxiway Delta had us switching over to ground. We shut down in the same foot print we had left from just out front of the hangar. A great day of flying! I could have done without the excitement on final into Harrisburg but none the less a great day in a fantastic flying machine! Thanks for the invite Mike!!!


ddf said... VERY careful, you might just fall in love!

Steve said...

And that's why midairs scare me so much, you just never know where airplanes will appear from! We've all had such experiences tho and I'm glad you were able to turn out of the way.

What a wonderful ride that SR22 is, I've got to get me some time in one too.

"I would never let my readers down by not reporting on the eats."

^ Funny you said that, as I was just thinking to myself as I started the article... "I wonder what Gary had to eat this time?" :)

All American Packaging said...

The SR22, by Cirrus Design, is a single-engine, four-seat, composite aircraft. It is a more powerful version of the Cirrus SR20, with a larger wing, higher fuel capacity, and a 310 horsepower (231 kW) engine. It is extremely popular among purchasers of new aircraft and has been the world's best-selling single-engine, four-seat aircraft for several years.