Hey!  What are all these extra controls and why are the wings on the bottom, now? :0)

Pictured Above:  Piper Arrow III with 200hp engine with fuel injection, retractable landing gear and variable pitch prop.  A minimum of 10 hours in a 'complex' aircraft are required as part of the Commercial Certificate.


November 18, 2004

I'm sorry that I haven't posted for awhile... kept meaning to, but never got around to doing it.

I had my first day of flight in the complex plane at my FBO; a Piper Arrow III.  By the way,,,, in a low-wing, you can look up and see sky!!! :)

As most of you know my instructor is having me flying from the right during my Commercial training.  The flight in the Piper Arrow III (a low-wing aircraft) was no exception.
The best part of flying from the right side in the Arrow, was that I had no previous experience from the left seat in this plane, so being in the right seat didn't feel 'odd'.  One of the other things I liked about flying this particular plane from the right seat is that the door is on MY right :0) in an aircraft that has no other doors, except the luggage compartment for a possible emergency egress.
My first 'surprise', other than having to 'get down and dirty' to check the mains and drains under the wings came during taxi.  I knew something felt different about the rudder steering of the nosewheel and then I turned to my instructor and said "Hey!  No bungee-steering system <g>" (like in Cessna 152 and 172's).  The steering is a lot more 'positive' than in the planes I normally fly (Cessna high wings).  We had spent two hours the previous week in ground sessions on the particulars of the plane I was going to fly - so most of the important V-speeds were semi-permanently tattooed in my brain.
My only minor annoyance with the plane was that the PTT switch on the right yoke was on the left side of the yoke horn (makes it tough when you are flying with your right hand on the right half of the yoke).  Ground roll and takeoff were uneventful, though it was clear to me once we were departing on our downwind leg (right downwind departure) from Runway 31R, that I was going to be getting up to the altitude that we use in the training area a bit faster than I would be able to in the 172's that I fly.
We did the standard 'checkout' stuff and I got a good introductory feel into how the aircraft 'felt'.  For one thing it is heavier than the planes I normally fly, so it has a bit more inertia behind it which one immediately notices in terms of feel and response to control input.
Coming back to my home field, on final, the only real difference was the normal approach speed for this plane is about 10 knots or so, more than in the planes that I normally fly.  It WAS kind of interesting when doing the GUMPS check and realizing the 'G' would mean that I would switch tanks AND turn on the electric fuel pump (both were things I normally didn't have to do in the Cessna high-wings I fly), 'U' would actually have meaning now,,, making sure the landing gear were down and locked (i.e., before,,, my landing gear was ALWAYS down and locked <grin>), and the 'P' was different as well since I had a constant speed prop to change the pitch on so that it would be at the lowest pitch angle - full forward (in case a go-round was necessary - i.e., full throttle, with prop pitch at the lowest  pitch angle to produce maximum power).
The actual landing was just a little bit different from what I do in high wings, except when I started to do my roundout where I would normally do it in the Cessnas I fly, my instructor told me to hold off the roundout until we were a little lower (he later explained to me that we could do this because the low-wing would be more quickly in ground effect than the high-wings I fly --- I should caution you that I may have got his explanation wrong.... but either way,,, we rounded-out,,, lower than I usually do).
One nice thing about flying a plane one never flew before is that it made me see how 'good' I'd become at the planes I normally fly! LOL
Had a great time.  I asked for one more dual session on maneuvers next week (in the C-172), specifically Lazy-Eights.  Then, it will be a handful more hours in the Arrow and then I will be practicing on my own in the C-172 on getting down my Commercial maneuvers and the 'complex requirements' in the Arrow III.  Somewhere during my solo practice my CFII and I will schedule the dual night x-country, which I really welcome 'cause I could use a refresher on night flying since I really don't do it that often.  In-between, I will do my Commercial Written exam and after the dual night cross country I'll do my long Commercial solo 'cross-country' flight (has to be at least 300 nautical miles) - this event I'll promise to include LOTS of pictures on.

Good Flights!


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