Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Glass Panel Skyhawk with the Garmin G1000

I didn't realize so much time had passed since my last entry. Since the last entry I've been to Germany, Rhode Island, Ohio, Homossassa, Tallahassee, and a few other places that I've forgotten about. I flew myself and my golf partner to Myrtle Beach for the first time in August. It was a challenge figuring out how to load two sets of clubs in the cargo area of a Skyhawk, but we managed. Having a travel bag around the clubs makes a huge difference.

Now for the subject of this post...Maureen and I wanted to go to Palm Beach for the weekend to visit her parents, but all of the planes I would consider flying cross-country were booked. I want something with modern avionics, decent airspeed, a reliable engine, and I prefer an autopilot or at least a wing leveler to ensure the smoothest flight possible. Maureen tends to get motion sickness in all but the smoothest air. Sterling recently added a brand new Cessna 172SP to its fleet. This one has the Garmin G1000 glass panel - aka the Cessna NavIII option. To fly this aircraft, an additional 2 hour checkout is mandatory.

I did a little research and discovered a number of articles that discussed the difficulties associated with transitioning from traditional panels to the PFD/MFD (Primary flight display/multi-function display). Not being one to cut corners, I purchased Garmin's G1000 simulator from their website and printed out their entire manual. I then spent my evenings reading through the manual and flying the simulator to ensure that I was comfortable with it before my checkout ride.

I had never flown with the instructor before. He joined Sterling after I completed my instrument training. Chase Rider is a great guy to fly with. He knew a great deal about the panel and showed me several things that I didn't remember from looking over the book including the METAR page that will show the latest METAR for the selected airport. I think there was only one thing that I knew that he didn't. When using the Direct-to option on the GPS, you can specify a course for the destination and the direct-to button will plot a course to intercept the desired approach course. This could be very useful for lining up with a runway that doesn't have an instrument plate.

Anyway, we flew down to Flagler and flew the GPS approach ending in a landing and taxi-back due to the ridiculous rules against touch and goes. Then we tried to request an approach at St. Augustine, but they asked us to break off at 3 miles - - not much of an approach, but it gave me a chance to at least intercept the localizer and fly the glideslope. We then went on to Craig where we requested the ILS 32 approach, but the tower had too much traffic going the opposite direction and due to time constraints, we had to land VFR.

The next post will have details about the equipment, etc. For now, the flight was enjoyable and amounted to 2.0 hours of dual cross-country with 0.2 simulated instrument. The two hours were enough to get me signed off so I could take the plane down to F45 for the weekend.

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