My next big flying adventure, across the country and then to Cuba, is coming up in the not so distant future and my plane has been down for quite some time now – three overhauled cylinders, turbo controller, etc.
Fortunately we are not taking my Cessna T210 to Cuba, we are flying my friend Mark’s pressurized P210. Since we will be taking turns taking naps in the right seat – I mean taking turns flying the plane left seat, I needed to get up to speed flying left seat in his plane. The two aircraft are about the same vintage and in many ways very similar, but they are also very different with a completely different set of avionics as well as how we each manage the engine operation. Put simply, Mark flies rich-of-peak and I fly lean-of-peak – which means my go-to engine parameters (Essentially RPM, manifold pressure and fuel flow) are meaningless in his plane.
Mark also has a sweet, sweet panel – all new Garmin 750s and a Garmin G500 among other things. Fun stuff! But it definitely helped to fly behind it and get used to the operation. I have a Avidyne 540 which is nice, but Garmin and Avidyne have a fundamentally different way they handle everything. Which sadly means I’ll to retrain myself on my own plane when I get back from Cuba!
It turns out one of the hardest things was recognizing a different N number! After flying the same plane for 18 years, “Centurion 31 November” is seared into my brain cells. “Centurion 7 Romeo Papa” often slid right by without so much as one cell firing. Well, actually if I were to be alone and concentrating on the radio I could do it, but of course Mark and I were discussing all sorts of things, and then out of the blue Mark would punch me lightly and say, “That was for you”. By then it was too late (although I’m sure his avionics has record and read-back capabilities I didn’t use it).
I could tell I was catching on after a time, which was good because it was frustrating to have to use a portion of your brain for N-number recognition when there are lots of other things you could be using your brain for.
The training trip was to Heber City Utah, where we stayed and skied at Deer Valley with the OK3 avionics specialist, Armand, who put in Mark’s sweet setup. You can get a pretty good sense of Armand’s competence and attention to detail just by looking at his tool box. Wow! He used his CNC Milling machine used for panel cutouts to cutout the liner for his tools.
I don’t mean to put down my plane in this blog post. For me, it is ideal for my mission profile. Mark has a nice pressurized and leather interior, but has some difficulty carrying large items because the pressure vessel cuts the interior into two sections. My plane, on the other hand, has mountain bike tire marks on the ceiling and I’m OK with that.