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Flying: High Performance Endorsement

After you get your GA license, there are several more levels of aircraft that you need a special endorsement to fly. Among these, are High Performance (more than 200 HP or faster than 200 mph), Sea Plane (self explanatory), and Complex (Retracts, Flaps, Adjustable Prop).

Most high performance aircraft also have constant speed props.

This past weekend I got my High Performance Endorsement from Plant City Airport (K). I've been busy going around to all the local airports around me and getting checked out to rent aircraft lately, so I can rent from anywhere that's convenient for me.

This started out as an idea I got one day when I couldn't fly at my regular FBO because the plane I usually use was out of order, and the other 172's are pretty beat up. I realized that I could just as easily get checked out at another airport and have an alternate rental option if I needed it.

After I got checked out at Tampa North, I had a bad run of scheduling luck with them and got shafted out of the specific plane I wanted for four consecutive weeks, and got stuck with another that was not nearly as nice, but was the same price. I made the best of the situation and flew the older plane anyway, but when they called during the next week to tell me they wanted to cut my next week's reservations shorter on the older plane after I'd been such a good sport, I decided I was getting taken for granted and I needed to find another alternative.

I had been over to Plant City Airport to meet the staff before, so they were my next choice for an FBO. I've landed there before and the people are all very nice. Well, when I got there, I found out that their 1975 Cessna 182 was about $30.00 per hour cheaper than the new 172 SP's I'd been renting, so it made sense to get my High Performance Endorsement there because it would cost about the same per hour with the instructor.

This particular 182 has an 0-470 with 240 HP and a McCauley Constant Speed Prop. Being an older 182, it's got 40 degrees of flaps, but drops like a stone if you use them. Easy to see why Cessna quit offering that option.

It really roars on take-off compared to those O-320's and IO-360's I've been flying. With that big Constant Speed Prop, this thing climbs straight up at 90.

I called ahead and made an appointment with an instructor, and took my renter's file along so that I could start right away. I keep a file with my proof of insurance, birth certificate and license info so that I can stop anywhere and get checked out to rent or get lessons. I got there a little early and got all that taken care of before the instructor arrived.

He turned out to be from Georgia, and is a technician for Raytheon during the week, and an instructor on the weekends. We hit it off well, so I decided to go ahead with the rating. We started by reviewing the Vspeeds, etc. of the aircraft, and my current experience with flying. We then discussed the Constant Speed Prop, and the difference in the way the engine is controlled, etc.

The first thing I noticed about the 182 is how much bigger it is than a 172. Huge tail feathers, big wing, way heavier. On my preflight, I noticed that it was low on oil, and the instructor topped it off for us. I didn't check the filler cap again afterwards, and it came back to bite me as soon as we took off.

I saw the little puff of mist come off the prop right as I reached full throttle. It was almost invisible, and everything was in the green, and I thought it might have been dust or something. As we climbed out, I noticed a little mist of oil on the corner of the wind screen on my side. I pointed it out to the instructor, and we climbed to about 3500 feet and watched for a few minutes, but no more oil was hitting the windscreen, so we continued. We just made sure to stay up around 3500 feet in case we had another problem.

We adjusted the prop for cruise/climb, and did some steep turns, followed by some power-off stalls. As we recovered from the second or third stall, I saw a few specs of oil hit the windscreen. I saw that more and more was hitting the windscreen, so I decided to go back to the airport.

We Came around to land on 10, and made a decent landing while peering through an oil-spattered windscreen, and taxied back to the FBO to check things out. The oil cap was off, and we'd lost about a quart of oil on the cowl and windscreen. We put the cap back on and cleaned the oil off the cowl and windscreen, and started it up again to make sure we were OK. No more oil spatters, so off we went again.

We did more stalls and turns, practiced some speed management (it's a much faster plane than I'm used to), and did some landings. We met again the following week, and continued the training. This time we added soft field takeoffs, touch and goes, power-on and power-off stalls, steep turns, speed management, etc. We flew over to Winter Haven's Gilbert Field (K), and did our touch and goes over the beautiful Chain-of-Lakes.

By the end of this time, he gave me my endorsement. I can now rent anything up to the 182 at Plant City, and can legally fly High Performance Aircraft from now on whenever I want. I can also rent a 182 anywhere else simply by doing a check ride at that FBO and getting it in their file on me.

During the last few weeks while I've been doing this, my regular FBO has sent out an email informing their rental customers that they have just acquired a brand new 172R, and I jumped right in and reserved it for the next three Saturdays. After that, I've got another lesson scheduled in the 182 with Tom, when we'll do a cross country and maybe some hood work. This'll also make the rest of the time requirements for my next level of wings in the FAA Safety Foundation Program. These hours have to be endorsed by a CFI or CFII.

I also plan to get in some night flying in the 182 soon. All in all, I'm very happy with having at least three local airports to rent and fly from, and thrilled to have my High Performance Rating so I can fly 182's now. They can really cover an amazing amount of ground! I can't wait until some newer 182's become available to rent in this area.

I haven't decided on my next training pursuit yet. I might get my Complex at Tampa North, using their 172 RG Cutlass, or I might go down to Sarasota and do some Irregular Attitude Recovery with an instructor I met at an FAA event a couple times over the past two years. He uses Zlin's for training aircraft, and I'd LOVE to fly one. IO-540 and a stick. Plus, the safety factor of being able to recover from virtually any attitude would be a huge comfort for me and my passengers, too.

Anyway, whatever it turns out to be, I hope it is as enjoyable as the High Performance rating was. Happy flying!

--- Wingnut


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