Ingo Noka

First Flight Piper Warrior II

In Flight Log, Private Pilot License on March 12, 2011 at 11:23 pm

After my First Flight with Piper PA-28-161 9m-FRR

I can add a new aircraft type to my “Aircraft I have flown”  web page.  This weekend I took off for the first time with one of the club’s Piper Warrior II PA-28-161 (9M-FRR).  The two Pipers came from the Singapore Youth Flying Club late last year (they have a picture of a PA-28 in the yellow-blue livery of the Youth Flying Club on the Piper Cherokee Wikipedia page).

(The call signs for the Pipers are a torture for my tongue.  Niner-Romeo-Romeo, just doesn’t roll off as Charlie Foxtrot does.)

First of all let me say that I was keen to get my conversion to the Piper started, because the Cessna seems to be in Subang now most of the time.  So it has become increasingly difficult to book the aircraft over the weekend.  Don’t get me wrong, I like the Aero AT-4, but I want to practice with a certified aircraft too.

If you want to know how the Piper “feels”, I would say it feels like a cross between a Cessna and an AT-4.  It has the low wing feel of the AT-4 and the heavier controls and the archaic General Aviation cockpit of the Cessna.  If you come from the AT-4, you will notice the much heavier controls and the somewhat more stable flight characteristics.  The “left-hand” yoke drive is a big difference as well.  The one thing hardest to get used to, however, is the need to trim the aircraft.  The AT-4 is so light on the controls that it is hardly necessary to trim, but with the Piper (and the Cessna) a successful approach and landing, for example, requires proper trim.

If you move over from a Cessna, you might look on the wrong side of the aircraft for a door to get in.  The Piper only has one door, which is on the passenger side.  Tall or somewhat bigger pilots look funny when they struggle into the pilot seat.   The other main differences to note for a Cessna pilot are the Johnson-bar style flaps control, the need to switch left and right tanks every now and then (there is no “both” position) and the frequent use of the electrical fuel pump.  It is a mystery to me why nobody has thought of changing this tank-switching requirement, which I understand has been part and parcel of every Piper PA-28 from the start to this day.  It is only a matter of time until I forget to switch after half an hour (hopefully on a flight that is short enough to get me “there” on one tank).   And doesn’t the use of fuel from just one tank affect the longitudinal balance of the aircraft as well?  Anyway, remember to switch every half an hour (start with the left tank) and switch on the electric fuel pump before you switch!

In the air, the controls, especially the aileron and elevator, are somewhat lighter than for the Cessna.  The difference isn’t really that big, at least as far as I can tell.  I noticed however that the ball kept wandering to the right, so that I thought I always had to apply a bit of right ruder to compensate.  During my next flights I will have to test this out a bit more carefully to see whether I subconsciously do something that would create this effect, or whether the aircraft really has this tendency.

We did quite a number of stalls, with flaps and without.  The Piper behaves similar to the other aircraft I have flown, maybe with a bit more pronounced pre-stall “wobbling”.  It is easy to recover from a stall, and this time I even remembered what the HASELL check was all about.

The speeds (IAS) are almost the same as for the Cessna: rotate at 60 kts, climb at 80 kts, cruise at 90 kts, baseleg at 70 kts and final at 60 kts.  I believe there is some flexibility in these numbers.  For example the aircraft would probably already rotate at 55 kts, depending on the weight.  The baseleg can be flow at 75  kts to 70 kts and final probably works between 60 kts and 65 kts.  In fact I don’t see this aircraft stalling at 55 kts either.

The Piper certainly rotates more sluggish than the AT-4.  To build up speed you have to keep the nose so low that you can still see the end (of the very long) runway of Senai Airport.  Once you got your 80 kts the attitude looks close to the Cessna.

The trim wheel is a bit hard to reach.  It is located between the seats, which are very close, so that the wheel need to be moved with two fingers.  You have to reach behind to operate the wheel and in mid-flight the position indicator is hard to see.  (In the Cessna the trim wheel is much easier to reach and to see.)

I like the handle to operate the flap.  It is easy to get the flaps into the right position.  Just press the release button, pull up the handle while letting go of the button, and the handle will automatically arrest in the next available flap position.  The flaps don’t seem to be as effective as in the Cessna, though, probably because they are smaller.  That may also be the reason why the flaps can be lowered at 103 kts and below.  In other words in the landing sequence one has to worry less about the speed when lowering the flaps than in the Cessna, where the white arc starts at 80 kts (I think).

The landing characteristic is closer to the AT-4 than to the Cessna.  The special thing I noticed was an audible and hard touch down of the front wheel, once the elevator lost the ability to keep it up.  The aircraft also floated a bit longer, which I attribute to the lower wing and therefore stronger ground effect (my own theory).

The whole flight took place in the training area north of Gunung Pulai (GP) at about 3000 ft.  Little tip:  you should stay between the North-South highway and the western and northern border of the Senai TMZ.  That way you do not interfere with aircraft operating west of GP and with aircraft on cross-country from Ringgam Sempang to Kulai.  It may also be wise to stay away from VFR lane Alpha, which goes straight from Kulai to Benut.  The attached track shows what I mean.

Flight Path for first flight with Piper

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