Introducing a new companion

As announced in my previous post (Abeam.be’s 100th), I have finalised the era on flying with different airplane types: I plan to stick to one type, one aircraft now.

I am happy to announce my new companion: the Piper Turbo Arrow III ! This one is from 1978, and it is very well maintained and well-kept. Registration F-HRPC, colloqually known as “Papa Charlie”.

F-HRPC

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The aircraft is based in Lille Lesquin (LFQQ) which is a perfect location: open 24:24 and equipped with a local weather service and IFR approaches. Landing fees are low (3 euro). Lille is not too far away from where I live and work, so it is an ideal homebase.

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I have chosen a Turbo Arrow because:

  • I like the higher speed that this 200 HP airplane provides over other lower powered designs. I know it is not a Mooney, which goes faster, but speed isn’t that overwhelmingly important for the type of hobby flying I do. A higher cruise speed (over 150 KTAS at high altitudes according to the book) is making high altitude headwinds less influential
  • I like the turbo-normalised version at it increases the ceiling to 20’000ft while decreasing the time to get there. I like to fly high (with oxygen) because of the fact that you have the option to fly over inclement weather (excluding large CBs), and you can enjoy a higher cruising speed
  • While being a complex aircraft (variable prop & retractable landing gear), it is still docile. The complex features add to the workload, but this is part of the hobby
  • By choosing a classic Piper design, you rely on a long lineage where many design issues have been tackled and SBs and ADs have settled. Maintenance on this type of Cherokees is supposed to be moderate too.

The cockpit is reasonably well equipped with a GNS430W, another 8,33 MHz radio, Mode-S transponder, DME, ADF and fuel totaliser. No HSI, large moving map or stormscope though, so I will have to match the type of flight with the type of weather at hand with this aircraft. In other words: no hard challenging IFR that cannot be overflown. It also still needs to be re-approved for IFR flight.

The cabin is really neat with white leather seats. It has a total maximum mass of 2900 Lbs, which offers a lot of loading flexibility. 72G or 272l fuel capacity gives it an endurance that surpasses that of your bladder.

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Although I had flown Piper Arrows before, I had never flown a Turbo, so I got myself checked out with a local instructor. The last couple of days, weather was dreadful, but we manage to steal a 1 hr VFR slot.

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Now that I am cleared, I will focus on getting completely trained and at ease with this aircraft. Stay tuned!

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