Flight schools are oohing and aahing over Diamond’s sleek two-seaters
Traditional wisdom in the aircraft business has always been that if you could build the perfect trainer, the world would beat a path to your door. No airplane is perfect, but Diamond Aircraft may have come as close to that ideal as anyone with the Diamond DA20-C1 Eclipse.
Given the way that prices on just about everything keep going up, it’s hard to believe there really is such a thing as an “undervalued” airplane. But such a thing does exist, especially when you look back at the older classics.
Okay, I admit it. I was a hot-rodder as a kid. Shortly after I was old enough to drive, a buddy and I began campaigning an old Ford on the second-gear, stock-car circuit around Anchorage and Fairbanks, Alaska. Later, I raced a Triumph TR3B and an Austin Healey 3000 in Sports Car Club of America gymkhana events around New Mexico. I didn’t win very often, but I had great fun in the process (until I realized how much money it was costing me).
With careful preparation, cold-weather flying can be great fun
Winter—it’s cold, it’s dark and sometimes it seems like spring will never come. But, lots of pilots live in cold country, and there’s no sense letting our airplanes sit idle all winter. Although it takes more effort and better preparation, winter flying can indeed be tolerable and sometimes even downright fun. So, if you’re up for the challenge, let’s consider some things you can do to mitigate the effects of winter and enjoy some flying.
Glass-panel functionality comes in a portable package
If you’re like me—a pilot who mainly flies airplanes with “steam gauge” instruments that look increasingly out of date—you probably salivate over the glass flight decks that are common in new airplanes. Even the latest (smallest) singles from Cessna and Piper have them. And while it’s possible to retrofit similar hardware in older airplanes, for most of us, the cost (in the high tens of thousands of dollars) is prohibitive.
The Garmin 396 is a powerful handheld weather tool
The trip was to be a long one: Watsonville, Calif., to Cedar Rapids, Iowa. It was supposed to take about eight hours, but the weather conspired to lengthen the trip to almost 10 hours. We planned to make one stop in Denver for refueling. It was typical western summer weather, which meant expectations of thunderstorms from midday on, so the Rockies were going to be problematic from a weather standpoint. As it turned out, so was much of the remainder of the trip.