Pilot Journal
Monday, November 1, 2004

Cessna 421 Golden Eagle

This one has really gone to the dogs

cessna 421Some pilots will do anything, use any subterfuge and resort to any rationalization to justify buying an airplane. With that said, Pat Cattarin’s excuse is more than a little over the top. He bought a late-model 421, specifically to transport dogs.
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According to Pat Cattarin (right), the Cessna 421’s reputation for being a high -maintenance twin is quite exaggerated. He claims that “the engines run very well and are fairly reliable,” as long as it’s flown according to the book. But what really impresses Pat is its wide cabin, which is ideal for the litter of greyhounds he usually carries in the back.
cessna 421

“I knew all about the Cessna 421’s reputation as a hangar queen, especially with those big, geared, 375-hp, hand grenade engines,” admits Pat, “but the extra performance and the higher pressurization differential were too good to pass up.” The 421 offered a 5.0 psi differential compared to the 414’s standard 4.2 psi, pumping up the cabin with more oxygen-rich air.

After a year-long search for the ideal airplane, Pat located a low-time 1976 Cessna 421C in good condition, and he soon began transporting his consigned greyhounds in style and panache. Both the Cattarins fly dog-delivery missions once or two times a month and, between the Seneca and the 421, they’ve relocated nearly 150 dogs in the last five years.

Despite his initial reservations, the pool executive admits that he has fallen in love with the big Cessna 421. Now that he has owned it for quite a while, he feels that the Cessna Golden Eagle’s reputation for high maintenance is greatly exaggerated.

“It’s certainly not an inexpensive airplane to keep in the sky,” he confesses. “At maximum cruise, I’ll burn 40 gph, one good reason not to use max cruise. Still, the 421 isn’t nearly as bad as I had heard. It’s important to adjust power slowly and keep from shock-cooling the engines under any circumstances, but if you do fly the engines intelligently and according to the book with medium power settings and reasonable TITs, the engines run very well and are fairly reliable.”

Pat bases his own Cessna 421 at Thermal, Calif., a few miles north of the Salton Sea, so he often must deal with high outside air temperatures in the summer, frequently in excess of 110 degrees F. Cruise climbs are the hard-fast rule with lots of fuel to cool the engines. In standard conditions, he sees 1,500 to 1,700 fpm in initial climb, 1,200 fpm through 15,000 feet.

Pat operates his Cessna 421 in the high teens or low 20s, where the air is smooth and the weather is below him. “The Cessna 421 is a Mercedes, with smooth controls, excellent stability and a wide cabin. The air conditioning is quite a wonderful feature, which works well for us in the summer.”

Labels: Piston Twins


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