Sunday, November 23, 2014

First flight in PW6

The club has a PW6, the two-seat version of the PW5 I have flown for many years. The club ships are categorized by performance and complexity, and the PW6 is in a higher category than the Krosno I recently got checked out in, so in order to fly it I need to go through another pair of instructor flights. (The Grob 103 that we brought over from OCSA is the same category: two-seat fiberglass ships.)

The design of the two ships is quite similar, but the PW6 is noticeably bigger and taller. The empty weight is 753 lbs compared to 419 lbs. Here are a few differences I noted:

  • The trim adjustment uses a different latching mechanism.
  • There are no side pockets in either cockpit! No place to stash my handheld radio, so I clipped it to my parachute straps.
  • Although it is larger, the front cockpit of the PW6 seemed more crowded. The seat seemed cramped.
  • No good place to put a Camelback in the front cockpit. Since we were doing short flights, it was not important, but I'll have to look next time to see if I can hang one somewhere. In the Grob 103, I can fit one next to me, but I don't think that will work here.
  • The O2 system is pretty kludgy, hanging a bottle in the rear cockpit under the instrument panel and in front of the control stick. Weird, but I guess it's not in the way. In our PW5, it's mounted on a rear bulkhead behind the pilot's head, out of the way. I thought that was standard or built-in, but now I see there's no mention of it in the PW5 manual, so it must be an add-on.
  • There's little to no room under the rear seat for emergency gear as there is in the PW5.
  • The weight and balance restrictions and calculations are more complex. The PW5 is pretty simple, having only minimum and maximum weight to consider.
So all things considered, it's set up OK for local flights, but it would be rather inconvenient for cross-country flights, though I know people do it.

The flight was pretty normal. It's of course not as sensitive and responsive as the PW5, but flies nicely. It does need quite a bit of rudder pressure in turns, because the rudder is fairly small. The instructor pointed out, and I confirmed, that this particular ship drops the left wing during stalls. It stalls more clearly than the PW5 does. We did not spin it.

It was a nice day, with lots of cumulus clouds early on, but diminishing by the time we flew. You can see from the position of the clouds against the mountains that cloudbase was probably about 8,000 feet. After demonstrating some steep turns and slow flight, I found some nice lift just about under a little cloud. We could have flown around quite a bit, but since it was just a check ride, we came in for a landing after 30 minutes. Others later that day had trouble finding lift, so I guess I got lucky.

The Initial Point and altitude in the standard operating procedures for Crystalaire have changed. The IP is just a little further out than before, but the altitude has been raised quite a bit to 1,600 ft AGL. I guess that was done to simplify the procedure for announcing entry into the airport airspace, but the altitude difference is greater than the distance difference, so I think it has the effect of requiring much more altitude loss during the pattern, requiring more spoiler or perhaps slip in some circumstances. I guess I could measure it on Google Earth, but that's how it seems to me. Other than that, my approach and landing were normal. 

So now I've flown six different models of glider.

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