February 06, 2007

Mr. Hat

The Cirrus has one of those little hat switches on the sidestick for electric aileron and elevator trim (just like the yoke for my sim). It's nice that it has both types of trim, and that it's in a convenient place on the stick, but it's touchy, especially with aileron trim. It's taking me some time to get used to it, and I'm learning that you have to use a lot of slight nudges in one direction or another to slowly converge on the correct trim without causing a major upset. But getting trim correct on this plane is important — it's barely dynamically stable, and has a bunch of oscillatory modes that manifest themselves as altitude swings or subtle turns, and flying it manually with the sidestick can be tiring over longer distances, especially as the control stiffness can cause you to jerk the bloody stick too far to one side or another, with predictable results.

So the trim hat switch has become something of an obsession for me: I find myself thinking of it as "Mr Hat", an alter ego at the end of my hand that seems to have something of a life of its own. Maybe I'll start talking to it with a Mr Garrisonesque accent. I dunno. But it's true that during this evening's hand-flown ILSs in the Cirrus I actually found it easier and more productive to keep Mr Hat at arms length (sorry), and only work on the finer points of trimming after almost everything else was taken care of. This does seem counterproductive, I admit, and it's something I need to work on more.

(And if you don't know who or what Mr Hat is, oh well, never mind).

* * *

Anyway, this little … wrinkle … aside, after another flight or two whose details I won't bore you with, I'm signed off for renting the club's Cirrus, I've maintained my instrument currency (but not necessarily my proficiency…), I'm 80% of the way through my BFR (just need to do the oral part), and I'm night current. Woohoo. Now if only the weather would improve….

4 comments:

Paul said...

Your club has a Cirrus? We've been told that no insurance company in the world will write a policy for a Cirrus.

Some fly-by-wire aircraft have what seems like a great idea for a trim switch - you just touch the button and it trims out all the control force.

Hamish said...

Yes, the club (California Airways) has a Cirrus, but it's only the SR-20, not the big-boy SR-22. And yes, it's insured (and the rates aren't too bad from what Keith's told me), but there are restrictions on who can fly it, including a prohibition on primary instruction. Other than that, as long as the club can get critical mass on members flying the damn thing, it's a goer....

And wouldn't I like a trim system like that -- but then that'd take all the challenge out of trying to get the Cirrus flying straight and level :-). And besides, in real life I'd just put the autopilot onto the task...

kiwiruth said...

Hi Hamish

Yes it's the kiwi back! I have just had a couple of days of flying. As a passenger - but it's still flying! Two of the flights were commercial on a very small airline from Paraparaumu airfield (my local) to Nelson in the South Island. Flight down was in a Cessna Caravan at between 1600-2000' ft-real good for seeing the scenery of the Marlborough Sounds. I returned today- as the only passenger with the very small airline in a Piper Seneca. Then on an off chance I went to the aero club and was offered a seat in the back on am IFR training flight. Now I can understand some of the terms you have been using lol. Being able to listen in on the headset and having a C cat instructor in the back drawing me diagrams was great. Part of the flight was through thick cloud, part above the clouds with no sight of the ground, and part in beautiful weather. The funny thing was, the flight was over the same ground covered this morning!
Isn't flying great!

Hamish said...

Hi Ruth! Good to hear you're still mucking about in aeroplanes -- sounds great! I've always wanted to fly from somewhere like Wellington across to the South Island. Maybe one day...