Sunday, November 12, 2000

Mooney Zooming (in Germany)

This was an unusual lesson flown in a Mooney M231, Augsburg, Germany, with 1.0 hrs dual.

This worked out really nicely.  Friedrich Karl is a CFII/ATP pilot with 6000 hours fixed wing and 600 hours in helicopters.  He holds these ratings both in Germany and in the USA.  I contacted him through Julius Muschaweck, ORA’s new LightTools rep in Munich.  Mr. Karl first suggested moving thr flight to Saturday morning but had to fly to Frankfurt on business that morning, so it went back to Sunday afternoon.  The other change was that the C172 was down for service, so we flew a Mooney M231 instead – very cool!  The Mooney is a complex single – it has retractable gear, a 200 HP ingine, variable pitch prop, and even an auto-pilot!  So it was quite different from the C152 I normally fly, but I did OK and really liked it. 

The first strange thing (apart from the fact of flying in Germany at all) was that ATIS and ATC were essentially all in English!  Although I heard some German on the radio, it was mostly English.  I still had the CFI handle the comms since I had more than enough new things for one flight (airplane, airport, airspace, terrain, CFI all new for me!).  We also had no headsets so we used the speaker and hand mike for comms.  Preflight was fairly informal, and I handled taxi and run-up with some guidance from Fritz (let’s just call him Fritz here).  We had to wait for a lot of landing traffic before taxi into position and hold on runway 25.  Takeoff was OK (rotate at about 65 knots), though the control forces were more than I expected and it took me a few minutes to get used to the electric trim on the yoke, so I was really pulling hard on the yoke to try to get the nose up to a climb attitude for about 80 knots climb.

We then turned right to a northern heading, climbing to around 3000 feet and steering around a TV tower with airspace restrictions (I got to keep the 1997 sectional that we flew with), then looping around the airport to head south toward the Alps and the Ammarsee, a large lake close to Starnberg (where J and I later had a customer meeting).  Once out of restricted airspace for Munich and a couple of smaller airports (Dornier’s airport for new aircraft, plus a Luftwaffe base), I did a few maneuvers, mainly steep turns and a bit of slow flight.  I also had Fritz take the airplane a bit several times while I took some photos of the Alps, lakes, airports, towns, etc. (not sure on this – a bit of haze.  All the while he was entering GOTO points in the GPS (Garmin 100 I think) and setting the heading bug on the DG for me to steer too – not much navigation practice for me! 

Finally we headed back to EDMA and for this, Fritz gave me vectors to steer and had me follow steering cues and DME information until we intercepted the ILS glide slope.  Then I steered (small corrections!) to line up the glide slope and CDI indicators on the attitude indicator, looking outside very little (but no foggles).  Lined up with the runway, I did a simulated instrument approach and landing, which he logged as 0.3 hours of simulated instrument time – cool!  The flare was quite different and final approach speed was about 75 knots, bit of a hot landing, and my lineup with the centerline was only fair.  By mid flight and approach I had finally gotten the feel for the electric trim (I like it!) and was holding altitude pretty well.  Turn off and taxi to fuel pit for the next renter (with very few instrument rated pilots in Germany, a good weather weekend in November has every pilot at the airport). 

I liked the Mooney and the fact that it could cruise at 140 or 16o knots or more, but it really felt like driving a Cadillac or something, with similar good and bad points – nice to have the power and the bells and whistles, but it felt like I was isolated from the controls somehow, like power steering or something.  I could get used to this, but since I don’t anticipate a lot of long cross country or business travel trips, a slower airplane doesn’t seem so bad to me.  But who knows in the future?  I’m glad I got a chance to try a Mooney, and he only charged me the Cessna rate, so it was $150 for the whole flight ($30 for CFI, $110 for plane, $10 landing fee).

The cool thing is that Fritz might be able to help me finish my PPSEL – he flies several months a year in Texas and Oklahoma, next in February or March, and I could perhaps go there for a week or so and finish the license if I don’t get the time to do it before then with Mario at ORH.  This could require greater than a C152 – Fritz is a pretty big guy, and I’m sure we would be cramped and over gross weight in a C152!  We shall see [note from 2009: I did some planning for this, but it never worked out and I finished my lessons in New England, with a few done in Los Angeles, mainly some night lessons].

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