Final Touches before Sun-N-Fun
Got the wheel fairings done,
and it's almost ready for the show. I got the rear seat headset
jacks in and done right, so they look good, and I hand-crafted a nice
wire cover to hide the GPS/WSI antenna wires just aft of the windshield
support tube. There is now a not-too-well-done headliner in place
in the front area. I had intended to put a dome light in, and
wanted to wait until I figured out what I wanted for a light, but with
the show here, I thought I should make it look a little nicer. I
will later try to either replace my wire cover with something nicer, or
add an overhead light to it, but it will be reworked slightly at a
In addition to preparing the plane, I've also tried to prepare myself.
I just did an IPC (Instrument Proficiency Check) with a CFII.
See below for a quick write-up of that experience for those who like the panel technology.
Today I had a truly fun flight in preparation for the trip to Sun-N-Fun.
I like going out and flying approaches, but haven't had a chance to do
any since we sold the Sundowner back in August/September. Having been
more than 6 months, I needed to complete some approaches before I could
fly IFR, and I thought it best to skip the safety pilot method and
just grab the CFII from the FBO. He's ALWAYS interested in getting some
time in the RV-10, and the glass cockpit is a bonus to him.
Previously, I have gotten familiar with the Chelton system, and on a
couple earlier flights I at least figured out how to load and cancel
approaches on the fly. Once I got the concept down, it seems pretty
easy. There were some little "tricks" I learned along the way that
at first I didn't catch, but once I knew them, it made loading an
approach very quick.
As we left my home base and tracked inbound to a VOR to start an
approach, the CFII asked if my screens would display the hold or not.
I thought so, but said "let's see". Loaded the approach and there it
was, complete with hold entries. It was a breeze to fly to the
VOR and enter the hold. There is a predictive turn indicator that
shows your arc that you'll take at the current bank angle. It's
really cool and makes it simple to put in the proper bank to match
up with the teardrop or other hold entry. Once in the hold, the
altitude bug was automatically set to the proper altitude for the
approach. We did a couple of turns, and as we passed by and
did a turn, instead of continuing the approach, the system put the
approach into Suspend automatically. I flew maybe 4 turns, all very
easy despite the wind, because of the great map-view display on
the screen. Once I decided to continue the approach, I flew to
the fix and the system came out of Suspend and the approach continued automatically. By the way, the day was very hazy and with the sun,
we only had maybe 3-4 miles of forward visibily, so it made practice
very good. The CFII was amazed at how perfectly representative the
screen was to the outside view...the runway was exactly in the same
place, and you could easily tell where you were and needed to go
on the approach. To me, being under the hood, I went from feeling
rusty on my approaches to feeling fairly well and being amazed at
how easy the approaches were. We then went missed, and the missed
approach activated and took us to the published missed approach.
It's hard to describe, but I have that GNS480 in the panel, but
it has absolutely no comparison to how easy it is to fly an approach
on the Chelton system. The Chelton screen and map view are just
leagues ahead of anything you'll get flying an approach on a
430/480/530. In fact, if you're not flying a system like the Chelton
and you want to do some serious approaches, I would recommend a
nice MFD like the MX-20 or Avidyne. They really are sweet.
We then continued on to our next approach, a DME arc to an ILS. I
didn't know for sure if an arc would display, but sure enough
you choose the destination airport, IFR approach, transition which
includes the IAF for that end of the arc, and the destination runway.
Then the arc is there right in front of you. We took a heading
that would intercept the arc, and headed out. Using the turn predictor,
I easily put us right on the arc, and then I manually jumped the
approach sequence to the arc segment. The HITS (Highway in the sky) boxes, by the way,
make flying an arc, or any other part of the approach, a real
no-brainer. It's amazing stuff. I was able to hold a very precise
arc all the way to the lead-in radial. It led me in using an intermediate fix towards the Localizer, and when it picked up the
localizer the indicators changed colors to go from GPS to NAV
display using the GS/LOC. I then continued on towards the runway.
With the great display of all fly-through fixes and everything else,
it was easy to have a nuts-on approach to the runway. Again, the
CFII and myself were both amazed, as the display on screen was
really a completely accurate depiction of the airport environment.
Very easy indeed.
He commented to me, as does everyone, "It would be interesting to
see if you could still fly old steam gauges if you go back from
this glass." My thought is, why in the heck would anyone ever
want to go back. I mean, I own an RV-10 now...why would I rent
some beat up old C-172 and fly steam gauges....it just wouldn't
be something I'm interested in anymore.
We went out and did some unusual attitudes, which disappointed him
because the screen has all sorts of stuff to help you correct
your unusual attitude, like directional chevrons telling you what
to do. It makes it too easy.
So then it's time to do some partial panel. I thought to myself
that this would be very interesting...losing all 3 glass panels
and still trying to fly an approach. It's kind of funny though,
because I *only* had an airspeed, turn-n-bank, coarse altimeter, inaccurate compass, and GNS480+CDI to get me home, flying a
VOR/DME approach to my home airport. "Only" is strange way to put
it, as this is pretty well equipped compared to some planes, but
hey, it is only a small piece of the functionality in my panel.
With an aux battery bank, and redundant screens, there really isn't
any reason I would resort to these backups other than maybe
an air data and AHRS failure. He flips my 3 screens to all
engine pages, and we begin the approach. Surprisingly, it was
still very easy to fly the approach, even with "minimal" equipment.
The GNS480, when punched in to the destination, displays both
the GPS distance to the airport, and the DME distance from the
VOR. The coarse reading 0-20,000' altimeter is surprisingly
easy to hold something relatively close. I saw no need for a VSI,
and the compass, even being innacurate worked ok to at least
fly straight. I could watch for the needle to swing, and it didn't
really matter what the compass said, it still gave me enough to
approximate my correction. I got to my dropdown fix, and the
CFII said that the altimeter was accurate enough that it "looked"
right. I got to the missed approach point, and sure enough I
was still right on for the approach, with everything looking just
It was a real confidence building day to be able to jump in to
a system I was not overly familiar with, and know that I could
successfully load and fly an approach. I can't believe at how
far advanced the equipment is, and how easy it makes some of
this type of flying. I can say now that I'm very happy with
the package and panel I put together, and everything, from the
electrical system, to the instruments and placement, is exactly
what I would have wanted. Stein was a big help initially in
getting this stuff coordinated. Beyond that, I had a cardboard
real-sized mockup panel and real-sized avionics that I stuck
on it and moved around until I found something I liked. I advise
everyone to take the time to plan your panel fully like that.
It's well worth the exercise. It was this type of day though
that made me know that I can launch on a trip to Sun-N-Fun
with no major reservations. I still don't want to fly in any
extreme conditions for a bit longer, but knowing that you're
not going to be totally lost in space with your new gear
is a great feeling.
If you stuck with this post this long, I hope you liked it.
Can you tell I'm a bit pumped?