Polishing Super Seawind Flight Skills in a Piper Arrow Ahead of Oshkosh

20160616 N2145M Arrow HAFB BFR

After completing most of the annual inspection on my Super Seawind I ordered polish so that it could sparkle on the ground at airports as I fly it across the USA this year. I was very proud to have reached this point where Jay Drury and I could and would be free of N71RJ maintenance. Whoopi! My Seawind had absorbed so much of our discretionary time that we both put flight training, a high priority, on the back burner. It occurred to me that it was high time to break out the polish on my own daily declining flying skills so Jay and I scheduled a Piper Arrow and two consecutive days of air time. In the five or so days lead time I reviewed the Arrow normal and emergency procedures, avionics manuals, airport procedures, airports, navigation systems and my own physical condition. I wanted to be as prepared as I could be for performing the equivalent of a Biannual Flight Review, BFR for both VFR and IFR environments in a complex airplane similar to my Seawind.

Day one: Normal flight procedures consisted, in part of flying straight and level, stalls, standard rate and steep (45 degree) turns holding altitude, short field landings and take offs, non-towered airport operations, and diversions. Then it was on to emergency procedures; lost radio, electrical fire, engine failure, navigation loss, and engine fire.

At first, my skills lagged what I mentally knew. My ability to catch up with the Arrow increased markedly with time. Jay coached me through a few things I just could not seem to remember fast enough. By the time we landed, I felt like the Arrow was a good friend I had too long not spent time with. We were back in synch. I knew the more I fly the Arrow, the better I’ll fly my Seawind.

Day two was an escalation of skills with IFR operations in the busy Boston Bravo air traffic area. Precision and non-precision approaches, holds, missed approaches and emergencies were reviewed and practiced in flight until I got them right. I’m amazed by how much my skill eroded since I last flew six months prior. Like the first flight, my abilities climbed rapidly and gratefully. Jay is a great instructor who won’t accept second best and he knows how to get my flying to the next level.  Back on the ground his debriefing advice was simple: “Keep flying.” It’s advice I’ve taken to heart. This year I fly my Seawind more than ever and I know I’ll love it. I hope my loved ones fall in love with my Seawind too. I’ll keep flying. That way I won’t have to order so much more polish. Maybe I’ll see you at Oshkosh Airventure 2016! http://www.eaa.org/en/airventure


Steve Wightman

Super Seawind, N71RJ, pilot.


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