Saturday, December 22, 2012

Flying a 182

N20791 - a Cessna 182P on the line at the flight club.
Never one to rest on my laurels long, as soon as I could after getting my Instrument Rating I arranged to start working on my high performance rating with my CFI.  I'm not sure "rating" is the right term but the FAA requires additional flight training and sign off by CFI before someone can act as PIC in a high performance aircraft.

A Cessna 182 is essentially an overweight Cessna 172 with a high horsepower engine and constant speed propeller. Flying a the 182 introduces the concepts of managing manifold pressure via the throttle and RPM via the prop controls.  It also challenges a 172 pilot's capability to stay ahead of a plane that is suddenly going quicker than a typical 172 will. Top cruise speed on a 182P is about 20 knots faster than the 172N. They can carry more payload and fuel and fly higher as well.

I had flown in 182s many times since my husband, Jeff, got signed off to fly them two years ago. On longer trips I've taken the controls (or sometimes the autopilot monitoring duties) and flown while he rested or did other things, so I'm not totally unfamiliar with the way the planes handle in the air. I also have the advantage of having watched how Jeff's managed manifold pressure and prop before. I believe this experience is serving me well so far.

I've done two flights in the 182 shown here to date. The first flight was late in the day so I did my very first landing in a 182 at night (thus the dark picture above). Not the best possible situation but I did pretty well. I was all smiles as we taxied back to the club to park the plane and told my CFI that it was fun. I really enjoyed how comfortable I felt flying the plane... Even in a new type of plane, maneuvers such as turning, climbing, descending, and straight and level flight require no conscious thought to make the plane do what I want. I am a much less awkward bird than I used to be when I started this blog :)

It is a lot of fun to learn new airplane systems and operations after spending so long flying 172s. So far I like managing manifold pressure actively on climb and descent. While I am accustomed to using the sound of the engine RPM as another input on airplane attitude and a constant speed prop removes that input, I like being able to set the RPM and leave it there.  A big difference between flying a 182 and a 172 is the glide characteristics (or lack thereof) of the 182. If you pull power on a 172 it glides pretty well. If flown right you can pull power abeam the numbers, fly a standard pattern and land on those numbers without adding power once in a 172. In a 182.... forget it. The thing glides like a brick. So I have to fly the plane with power on all the way down to round out and then pull power slowly. Once the plane is in landing attitude right over the runway, pull the last bit of power out and the plane lands smoothly. I got to practice that two more times (in daylight) on my second flight and did well.

The biggest challenge of flying a 182 for me is the descent planning. A 182 is the first plane that I've flown where the saying "you can't go down and slow down" is true. Reduce manifold pressure to start the descent, airspeed increases significantly. I have to slow the plane down too. That requires a plan for that as a separate phase of flight. It takes longer to slow down in a 182 than a 172. Not only that, I have to plan on a smooth reduction of manifold pressure, adding of fuel (mixture) and reduction of altitude to get to the right altitude at the right speed with the right manifold pressure and mixture so I can start the deploying the flaps for the approach. Its a good thing flying itself doesn't require so much attention anymore because this descent process certainly does.

My next 182 flight will be in a bit over a week. In the mean time I'm planning on taking Jeff with me on an instrument flight on Christmas Eve if the weather is good enough. In the mean time, its nice to be reviewing my notes and planning my strategy for both 182 flying and instrument flying. I'm in my happy place - learning about flying.

1 comment:

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