Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, June 21, 2011

From The Editor: Moving On Up


As pilots, we're constantly looking to challenge ourselves and learn more about flying. One way to grow as a pilot is to transition to a bigger and more capable aircraft than the one we currently fly. Moving from a piston to a turbine represents an increase in cost, but the benefits are vast, including significant increases in performance and safety. In this issue, Turbine Editor Cyrus Sigari, who's well experienced as a mentor for transitioning pilots, offers 10 tips for those making the leap, be it from a piston to a turboprop or a turboprop to a personal jet.

When transitioning to a new airplane—whether you're stepping up to a bigger plane or just trying something different—you may need to untrain certain tendencies. Although perhaps unrealized by you, repetitive movements that you make in one airplane will give your muscles internal routines that they become used to. This "muscle memory" can work against you in a new situation, especially if the airplane requires different control inputs. Budd Davisson discusses scenarios where this may have a big effect, and how to recognize if you're falling into the trap.

We fly two very different airplanes in this issue, the Kitfox Super Sport, a high-wing fabric LSA with STOL capabilities, and the low-wing composite Diamond DA40. Senior Editor Bill Cox flew the Diamond DA40 at Sun 'n Fun, but it wasn't just any DA40. The Premier Edition from Premier Aircraft of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., features a number of upgrades—some that improve performance, such as a new three-blade Hartzell prop, and some that simply are extra treats, such as a personalized owner plaque on the instrument panel.

If you're looking to upgrade your cockpit but aren't ready to go all out, we offer 12 easy and affordable ideas to get started. Little touches, such as windshield sun visors or LED lights, can go a long way to improving the functionality and aesthetic of your airplane. More significant improvements, such as a replacement yoke or stick grip, can completely change your flying experience.

Also in this issue, contributor Clyde Butler shares some of the most memorable flying of his career, when he flew security patrol over Kennedy Space Center. It was with a sense of pride and nostalgia the he would orbit in a Cessna Skymaster in a one-mile pattern at 2,500 feet above the launch complex, watching over the space shuttle. The survey airplane was equipped with a remotely operated camera that transmitted real-time images to NASA authorities on the ground. It's a mission Clyde had flown many times, but each time left him in awe nonetheless.

One of reader Tucker Axum's most unforgettable flights took place this spring, in a Cessna 172 that he rented and flew from Louisiana to Texas. The company—his friend Jared—and the views—sparkling rivers—were great, but what made the day really special was his right-seat passenger: his 95-year-old Grandma Memaw. Being in the air was a way for Tucker to share his passion with someone special. Tell us about your best flight! Email us at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it with all the details.



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