Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Flying - The First Dakota Flight

Today the club's checkout instructor and I finally had a schedule that coordinated so i could begin my High performance endorsement and get checked out in the Dakota.

Unfortunately, weather conditions were a bit challenging, even as they were better than forecast.

After the preflight, I got the briefing on use of the constant speed prop and did the takeoff. The Dakota with 236 horses has a lot more pep than the Archer and took off and started climbing like a homesick angel.

The cloud layer varied but was around 3,000 so we stayed around 2,500, climbing up a large hole to do some ascents and descents. The prop sound does not change as you climb or descend so your sense of hearing isn't as helpful as it is in a fixed prop plane.

Getting it through your head that the throttle controls the manifold pressure and the prop control controls the RPM takes a bit of getting used to, as does the need to keep power in all the away until the flare. Also the sheer amount of trim to keep this thing where you want it is a heckuva lot more than in an Archer. Amazing what two more cylinders will do for you.

The Dakota will also climb if you take your eyes off what you're doing for an instant. Lots of trim needed to be used at all times. It's definitely a pay attention kind of aircraft.

At 65% power, we were still going as fast as an Archer at full. Kinda fun. It feels like a much heavier aircraft than the Archer, and has much better payload capacity.

At Lapeer, there were 13-21 knot gusting direct crosswinds that made landing a bit too sporty for the first time out. I did two go-rounds and the instructor said I showed good judgment by doing so. It was kinda hairy. Annoying as Lapeer is one of my favorite airports to land at, and I tend to have excellent landings there.

Then we headed west to Howell. Winds were 14-21 gusting at Howell but almost in line with the runway so only a slight crosswind factor and correction needed to be added. Two good landings there, and on the third a huge gust of wind caught me as I was in the flare and ballooned us up, causing a go round. Good training with very gusty winds.

On the upside, my go-round procedure is right on, safe, and properly done each time, so there's that.

Then we headed back to Pontiac, a beautiful downwind pattern entry to 27L and making a change over to 27R on base which I expected, and a nice approach, excellent final, about to touch down like a dream it's looking and feeling perfect and . . .

A really strong gust of wind had to come along just then and balloon us up, making the landing not nearly as pretty but serviceable.

The instructor says I'm doing very well, and just need more hours to satisfy the insurance requirements.

2.1 hours and 3 landings.


MrGarabaldi said...

Hey Aaron;

When I first saw your article from the title, I was thinking that you got checked out on the DC-3 because the Brits called her "Dakota". Still congrats on the flight, any day flying beats any day in court

Old NFO said...

Gusty winds ARE a challenge! Good work on the go arounds!

Aaron said...

MrGarabaldi: Yep, it can cause some confusion. Often n the radio its just identified as a Cherokee, but its a faster Cherokee.

Old NFO: Thanks! Was a definite challenging day for gusty winds.

Comrade Misfit said...

High performance, but not complex?

Aaron said...

Comrade Misfit: Yep, the gear is down and welded on a Piper Dakota, so not complex, but over 200 HP so it's a high performance aircraft.