Friday, March 27, 2009

First 15-or-so hours in the Warrior

I’ve flown about 15 hours now in the Warrior, and am getting to know the airplane better the more I fly it. It’s quite different than a Cessna is a couple notable ways (and almost exactly like a Cessna in most ways, of course).

The differences become most apparent during approach and landing. In a nutshell, airspeed matters a lot more in the Warrior when landing. Too fast over the runway and you’ll float, float, float.

The Warrior is a Cherokee with a tapered wing. Mine is a 150 horsepower model. What I’ve found is that unless my approach speed is about 75 miles per hour, I’m too fast over the runway and the ground effect float is just too much. If I try to raise the nose slightly while in ground effect at, say, 80 miles per hour, the plane just wants to climb. At 70 to 75 miles per hour I can descend through the ground effect much more effectively while keeping good control authority, substantially minimizing the amount of runway needed to land. the high wing on Cessna aircraft really fly differently when you’re a few feet above the ground. Of course, that’s in my plane. Yours will almost certainly vary.

Over the past couple weeks I’ve been able to fly in slices of decent weather. A couple days were downright beautiful. I’ve flown to get lunch in Independence a couple times, flew over my home, took a friend and his dad up for a scenic flight over the Columbia River, and over the past couple days the neighbor kid (who’s on spring break this week) went flying with me for a night flight over downtown Portland and then yesterday for four hours of cross country and fun. I think he’s hooked. He’s already asked how old you have to be to get a pilot’s certificate and how much it costs. Hah.

The plane has flown more in the past couple weeks than it did in the past four or five years combined. When an airplane doesn’t fly one has to be a bit skeptical about the potential problems that can result from non-use. But things are looking good. The engine is running well and everything seems to be working just fine, so at this point I’m glad I found a great deal (and got a thorough pre-purchase inspection). Oil consumption is very low and the engine is delivering power quite well. There are a few minor things to be addressed, two of which were negotiated as part of the purchase: The carb heat lever needs to be adjusted because it slips a little bit, and the interior red light is “inop” (so I use a head-mounted red LED light, which works pretty well). Another minor issue that needs to be addressed is a slightly “sticky” front landing gear. It holds proper pressure and the mechanism works just fine absorbing any landing shock, but the O-ring seals are older and have hardened somewhat so they need to be replaced, which will allow the seal to travel a little more freely up and down.

So far, so fun. Time to start planning some cross-country flying and find some places around the area to visit that I have never been to before. Looking forward to exploring!


  1. I am so completely envious. Green, green, green with envy.

    Congratulations on your new purchase and your new passion. I am looking forward to seing both of them.

    Be safe.

  2. Hello Greg,

    I've really enjoyed your blog. I stumbled across it while looking for a flight instructor. You seem to have such a great experience at Twin Oaks and with Kelly that I decided to take the plunge. I had my initial flight last week (got my log book and everything) and my first official flight lesson is tomorrow. Maybe I'll see you out there sometime!

  3. Keith - I will make it down there sometime, maybe even this spring or summer or so. You'll see me when I do. Especially since you'll be in the right seat at least part of the time. :)

    vidar3D - That's awesome! Kelly is a great teacher. I'll look forward to meeting you at Twin Oaks! I'm there st least a few times a week, and with the weather shaping up I plan to be there frequently. There's a pancake breakfast that the EAA puts on on the first Saturday of every month at I think 8am(ish) (ask Kelly). I try to make it to that, it's fun and there are often a zillion really cool airplanes that fly in. It's fun to look at them all.