…<hummity hum> … ♫ getting to know all about you…♫
Well anyway — been flying ‘BeeGee’ and ‘getting acquainted’ as it were.
We had a group conflab out at the airfield to finalise paperwork and numbers before having a good pore over the aircraft and a few snaps.
Since very few of us have much (or any) time in Cherokee our very useful instructor-member is acting as checker-outer-in-chief to get us all up to speed. (Or more to the point, since we have no toebrakes, making sure that speed and most especially momentum is foremost on our collective mind!)
It was a pleasant novelty of having acquired a four-but-three-really-seater to park myself in the back while Gwyn flew with Alan up front.
You see different things as a passenger. I couldn’t hazard a guess how much time I’ve spent overhead various parts of Gower, but there’s always something new. The clouds, which had been lifting all morning, were spread across the sky as though someone had combed them. The bright sunlight now spilling between them picked out dark shadows of the caves in the cliffs around the bays and paragliders were weaving back and forth from Rhossili Down above the walkers on the beach below.
Another item we don’t have is rear seat intercom so I gazed out of the window at all of this in blissful ignorance of the conversations up front as Gwyn and Alan banked hither and thither, speed up and slowed down and generally put the aeroplane through her paces.
I watched the approach with interest – she doesn’t half come down with full flap on!
Then it was my turn and I squirmed from the back to the front – being small helps but there’s even less dignity than in the Tommyhawk!
Once ensconced in the left hand seat I was quite startled by how much muscle memory I’d built up and how thoughtlessly my hands and eyes went to where switches and instruments are in a Tomahawk.
(Once airborne I honestly think I spent a few seconds trying to steer a course by the clock…)
And don’t get me started on the fact that the spangled electronic radio which had replaced our “clicky numbers on a dial” defaults to D&D when you switch it on!
Anyway, such minor fumblings and embarrassments out of the way ( I did find the Starter button eventually — no start setting on the key…) and we were up again.
Both the trim and the rate of climb differed considerably with just two up, and I did rather have to haul her off the ground, not having added enough back trim to start with.
The checklist says “Trim Set to Takeoff” with no indication there or on the indicator what that might be – perhaps on purpose because it varies?
In the interests of reducing our fumbling at least a bit, Alan had taken his chinagraph pencil to the roof and drawn in two big UP and DOWN arrows beside the ‘sunroof-winder’ trim handle there.
Odd to use though it is, the trim was very effective and sensitive and the aeroplane seemed very much inclined to stay where you put her.
We spent a bit of time just experimenting with power settings and seeing what sort of airspeeds and rates of climb/descent we got.
We did some low speed handling and some flat out stuff, and I did some (rather wibbly out-of-practice) steep turns.
Alan picked up on a few of my bad habits and a few things which I could kick myself for because I would never normally do, and which I suppose I can write off to lack of capacity while getting familiarised.
Mental note to self to use the checklist carefully and methodically — some of the things I did by memory, owe more to physical habit than brain and I skipped a few things which were in different places.
Chief among these ‘misplaced’ controls which I did manage to keep on top of is the fuel selector — placed somewhere near the pilot’s left shin for some unfathomable reason…
Ergonomics had apparently not been invented in 1968 and the switches, instruments and control are a rather random scatter across both sides of the panel.
The tacho is oddly positioned way on the passenger side and suffers a certain amount of parallax error from the pilot’s side, though I suppose we’ll just adapt to flying on what it looks like it’s reading! The mixture is also a bit of a stretch, but I’ve got long arms…
I initially thought the flaps might be heavy, but the leverage from way down there on the floor is so great they were fine.
In any case, all niggles and fumbles aside it was completely and utterly glorious simply to be airborne on no one’s schedule but our own, dawdling about with no particular plan in mind other than “fly ’til you’re comfy’.
We’re going to have lots of fun with this old girl…