Final Touches before Sun-N-Fun

Added 3/30/2006

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 later date.

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 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?