Today was an interesting day to go flying.
The weather was definitely marginal with low cloud cover and some decent crosswind.
Instead of a 172, I was going to fly the Diamond DA-40 for the first time.
The DA-40 is a low wing, 4-seater aircraft, based on a glider design with a castering nose-wheel, which becomes very important for takeoffs and landings.
It's also quite lightweight and a fair bit more zippy than a C-172. It also takes a lighter touch than the C-172.
Taxi involves using the brakes a lot as you have no direct control over the nose-wheel. This took some getting used to.
Takeoff is at 60 knots and requires flaps, and it requires a LOT of right rudder as the small tail doesn't do much to fight the P-factor at all, and it climbs at 80 and can cruise at 150 knots.
Landing is a bit faster than a 172 and a fair bit different flare - not too much or you'll strike the tail, too little and you'll ground loop on the nose-wheel caster so it was a bit of a challenge to get it just right, especially in today's crosswind. There's two flap settings and you need to keep the speed up higher than the 172 in all parts of the pattern.
We flew out to Romeo and on the way I did some steep turns, a power on and power off stall (The Diamond doesn't have a pronounced break or serious buffet at all in a stall - you just start losing altitude like a bat heading to hell as the plane mushes. It also has a serious over-banking tendency that takes some close attention.
Arriving at Romeo we did some pattern work. Ray did the first landing and I did the rest with some subtle assistance. We had some little showers of rain but no major issues and at 2,500 feet were able to stay under the clouds without an issue.
It was interesting to fly something other than a 172. It was quite a bit faster and had some impressive cruise and climb performance. The controls were definitely very sensitive and only needed a light touch - hopefully that lighter touch will transfer over.
Not a bad 1.5 hour lesson with 5 landings.