I won’t make any bones about it. We were getting our butts kicked as we climbed out on what seemed as though it should be an ideal early spring afternoon. The conditions were CAVU, dry air and severe clear blue skies cradling the green and rolling Hill Country of Central Texas as we headed slightly west in search of lonely runways and empty airspaces. Thankfully, both remain plentiful in the Lone Star State, and while I should say that it wasn’t technically spring but still winter, it honestly felt more like summer. The slight haze and mildly gusty conditions presaged a less than velvety ride. We were thankful, at least, that the air cooled as I hand-flew the Skylane to 8,500 feet, just barely above the haze layer and most of the bumps, engaged the autopilot and prepared to go play.
I was flying the 2017 Cessna Skylane with Cessna demo pilot Randy DeLong trying to keep me out of trouble, which, in this case, meant my searching for buttons that weren’t where I thought they should be. This newest Skylane has the latest Garmin flat-panel avionics system, the G1000 NXi, and it’s a great fit for the 182. It’s the third NXi-outfitted airplane I’ve flown so far, and each one of them has been markedly different from the last. In the 182, NXi is a near clone of the original G1000, but its capabilities far surpass those of the original. While the transition from G1000 to G1000 NXi won’t be tough for most pilots, learning the many new capabilities of the system will take some time, unless you’re as lucky as I was to get the tutelage of an instructor who knows the new system inside and out, like Randy, who’s the most expert G1000 instructor I’ve flown with.