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RandallR

Flew my new favorite plane last night

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Guest Bart

The FBO I fly out of at Blueash got the new Katana DA-20 C1 in, I LOVE THIS PLANE!! Took the old CFI (Brian) along for a checkout ride in the Katana last night. Preflight was pretty easy. Record the "YUK" HOBBS meter, check the AROW, remove the string wrapped around the stick tied to the panel that serves as the control lock, check the wing spar temperature gauge nestled behind the seat cushion, if it displays a black 55 on a red background you have to leave the canopy open to cool off the wing spar, otherwise it'll melt and the wings will fall off!! :), clear the prop area and turn on the master switch. Cycle the flaps down, center the electric trim by using the lighted gauge on the panel and the switch on the center console, check the nav lights...something weird here is the Kat only has wingtip nav lights, no tail beacon or white tail light, just wondering how they got that past the FAA??. Walk-around check is a bit different, I'm use to hitting my head on the wingtip of a 172 during the walk-around, the wingtips on a Katana are at a different lower level...MUCH different level!! Once I could stand upright and walk again on with the rest of the walkaround (just kidding, you do have to be aware of them tho, it would definetly leave a mark in an area you'd need to explain when you got home!!). One kewl lil thing on the Katana is there is plexiglass panels on the underside of the wings by the ailerons and the flaps, they are preflight inspection panels to check the control linkage, if you feel like rolling around in the freshly cut grass that is. Fuel sump is an acrobatic challenge, the sump is almost dead center of the plane, it's a little aluminum tube sticking out of the bottom, you have to pretty much lay down, stretch WAY up under there, you don't want to get to close when you sump because unlike a 172 draining nicely into the sump cup this one sprays all over when you sump it, I'm figuring something in the ratio of 5 oz sumped for every gallon drained, make sure you have a rag to wipe off with. After the 100LL shower walk on around the empenage, might not have a wingtip to bump my head on but the elevator is just the right height. Wiggle the rudder and make sure there's a cable attached to each side, the elevator has a tube that runs up through the tail, make sure the safety pin is in place. Come down the right side, check the right wing, OAT sensor tucked away in an air scoop just forward of the right side step, unlock the engine inspection panel to check the oil, since it's fuel injected there's no sump for a fuel pump so you can keep your shoes dry. Come around the front, check for blockage on the aircleaner, check the wood/poly laminated fixed pitch prop and hop in. When you climb in make sure your feet don't hit any of the instrument knobs sticking out from the panel, the canopy rotates back when you open it so you can stand straight up when you get in, then fall down into the seat, just watch out for the stick!! WOO WHOO!!. It takes a little adjusting when you first get in, mainly the rudder pedals. I'm 6' tall, when I got in and sat down and my knees hit my chin, my first thought was "this is cozy", there's a handle in the middle of the rudder pedal assembly that you pull on and then push the whole assembly up under the panel to a comfortable distance. The seats are molded into the plane so they don't adjust, they recline at about a 25 degree angle (reason for this I'll explain later), very comfortable but it could use a headrest. The seatbelts keep you nice and secure, one around the belly and two shoulder straps. The cargo area is right behind your head on top of the 20 gallon fuel tank, plenty of room to put stuff but the max weight for cargo is 40 pounds, guess I could cram the 4 year old in there, she's only 30 pounds :). Panel layout is very user friendly, 6 pack and nav instruments are big and clear. They sit just below your line of sight so when you're scanning them you can keep somewhat of an eye outside to look for traffic. Lights, master and ignition switches are just below the 6 pack, everything is a very easy unobstructed reach. One Nav/Comm radio in the stack, GPS and a transponder are just to the right of the 6 pack, wouldn't mind having an ADF but no where to put it. The engine gauges and circuit panel are to the right of the radio stack along with a digital OAT and the horrible HOBBS meter. The upper part of the center console just below the main panel has the heater and parking brake controls, fuel shutoff is just to the right of those controls, the throttle, mixture and electric trim are further down on the console, friction knob is on the passenger side of the console, very comfortable arrangement of the controls. The C-1 has a 125HP Continental fuel injected engine, startup is easy. Master on, mixture full rich, throttle full open, fuel pump on. It has an electric fuel primer that you run for 3-5 seconds, pull the throttle back to 1/4 inch open and crank it up, set rpm at 1000, check the gauges for life and you're ready to roll. One thing to think about before you roll, you are in a 1600 lb max weight plane with 125 spinning horses in front of you, it only takes a small crack of the throttle to get it going but just the torque from that small amount requires almost full right rudder to taxi straight, 90% of directional control on the ground is done with differential braking. Taxi out to runway 6 is some close quarters at first, the parking area for the Katana is at the end of the line of Schmidt's fleet of 172's on each side, just before getting to the ramp you have to squeeze through the 45' wide space between the fuel truck and the nose of a Piper Lance, wingspan on the Katana is just under 36' so you have to make sure you're centered on the line. Run-up was not to bad, crank it up to 1500 rpm, mags check, systems check, etc. etc., the engine gauages are in front of the right seat, think it would have been better to install them at a bit of an angle to make them easier to see from the left seat, that way I wouldn't have to my head on Brian's shoulder to see them, gets you some weird looks from people in the plane next to you. One thing I didn't like was not being able to get a look at the rudder and elevator control from inside for that one last final check before taking off, visibilty is awsome to the front and sides but it could really use a back window. Takeoff run is a rush, set the flaps to takeoff setting, once lined up on the centerline just go ahead and put in full right rudder before you even touch the throttle...you'll need it!, any crosswind control during the takeoff run is done with the braking, push the T handle on the throttle full forward and hold on!! Those 125 horses press you back in the seat and throw the nose over to the left, keep the right rudder pushed in and add just a little drag on the right brake until the wind over the rudder starts pulling you back to center. Rotation is at 44 kt, you'll get off the ground at about 52 kts, hold about 60 kts on climbout to about 400 (AGL), lower the nose and let the speed build to about 70 kts and raise the flaps to cruise. You can raise the flaps lower then 70 kts but you'll get a very noticeable vibration until you hit 70 kts so, to avoid THOSE looks from anyone riding with you keep the flaps in till 70 kts. Hit the electric trim switch next to your leg on the center console to hold 70 kts Vx, lil thing climbs like a rocket, one of the other flight instuctors had just taken off in a 172 in front of us, we stuck our tounges out and wiggled our hands in our ears as we climbed right thru them, not sure but what he flashed back didn't look like a tounge!, leveled off at 3k and headed north for the practice area. Trimming for cruise was a little weird at first. Being use to the picture out the front window on a 172 I pushed the nose down to about that same attitude and was still climbing at about 100 fpm, remember up there when I mentioned the reclined seat angle on the ground? To trim for level flight you actually are in a nose down attitude which brings you into an almost upright position in the seat. Cruise rpm is 2300, reach next to your leg, a few downward pushes on the electric trim till the pressure comes off the stick, set the mixture and sit back and enjoy the panoramic view. With the nose down attitude you only see the very tip of the cowl out the front, the wings are set back a bit, no window or door posts, when you look around you forget you have an airplane attached to you. I have some pics I'll post on my site later but the visibility is unbelievable. Once we got to the practice area it was stalls, steep turns and slowflight. Steep turns are unbelievable, laying into a left 45 degree, since the wing sits back a bit when you look out the left side all you see is ground, pretty much the same on the right side except for the big blonde head with a headset growing out of in the way. Slow flight dirty is 35 kts at about 17-1800 rpm, you'll feel a buffet the whole time you're in slowflight but this is a very hard airplane to stall which they are very gentle and controllable, because of the design of the wings the ailerons still have some authority in a stall, recovery is very easy. Controls are very responsive, you can move the stick about a 1/4 of an inch and go into a 10 degree bank, forward pressure just push a bit with your thimb, back pressure requires a little umph but just hit the trim button a few times and no problem. Rudder control is very smooth, just scrunch your toes and you can feel the rudder yawing the plane. After a few sets of manuvers it was off to Middletown (MWO) for some touch and goes. After the first touch and go and looking at Frisch's at the end of the runwway the next one was a full stop and dinner, I had to buy of course...sheesh!! After a few Big Boys and grazing at the salad bar it was back to work. Good we burned off some fuel on the way up because after what we ate we'd never get off the ground with a full load! Climbout at 70, we hit pattern altitude turning into crosswind, pulled the throttle back to 2000 rpm, leveled off at 80 kts for the downwind leg, add T/O flaps and lower the nose a bit to compensate for the initial lift and trim it out. A Lear called three mile final to runway 5 when we were 1/2 downwind by the time we got to base turn he was across the threshold...show off!!. Pull back to 1300 rpm, drop in the landing flaps, trim for 70 kts. Final turn pull out the throttle and trim for 60 kts, something I found out on my first approach is if your speed is 61 kts, your going to float for about 10 miles when you flare, you HAVE to hit the speeds on the mark. Second time around I just caught out the corner of my eye something changed on the panel, that and the sneer on Brian's face I knew he did something, them grubby lil fingers are just to close to the circuit panel. Set up on downwind put in T/O flaps, lowered the nose and no lift, he pulled the flaps fuse, pulled up hit the trim to trim for 70 kts/no flaps/best glide, he also pulled the trim fuse so it was all stick. Holding back pressure on that stick takes quite a bit of effort, especially on a full stomach, held 70 kts all the way across the threshold, floated about halfway down the 6000' runway at Middletown before the tires screeched, nailed the throttle and climbed out at 70 kts. We did 5 more touch and goes and then headed back to Blueash. It was dark by the time we left Middletown and a beautiful night for flying, especially with the view out of the Kat. Since neither one of us could get to the wire on the HOBBS meter we just headed straight back, about a 10-15 minute flight. Entered the downwind for runway 6, got knocked around on final catching all the thermals coming up from the houses below, dropped in over the trees, little crosswind correction, flared out, chirp, chirp and hold off the nose wheel till it sets itself down. A big drawback about landing the Katana at night is it doesn't have the best taxi and landing lights, they're out on the left wingtip and not real bright, they really don't do much to aide in seeing where you're going. One thing nice about the parking spot for the Katana coming back in is you can kill the engine halfway across the ramp and coast into the spot, hey every tick less on the HOBBS is one more beer during the debrief!! I would HIGHLY recommend a flight in a Katana any chance you get, if you're a pilot or just take an introductory flight in one, it's well worth the time. Brian told me before we took off I'd get addicted to this plane after I flew it, he was right!Hope you enjoyed this lil trip in a Katana, post some pics soon as I canc ya :-waveBart flyhelp@zoomtown.comhttp://bartsflyplace.tripod.com/pics/ryans...ight/flight.gif http://bartsflyplace.tripod.com/bart_logo3.jpg

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Guest Colins2

Heya BartNice report, made interesting reading.When is the Fly!2 model due :)Colin

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