Solo in the Archer!

It was kind of eerie. I had time in the Piper Cherokee Archer with both Dave and Greg and they said they were happy for me to take FWS up alone for some circuits, so thats what I did.

Its almost like stepping up a class from the Cessna 172, getting into the Archer. Although they are of a similar vintage the Archer looks newer on the inside and certainly looks sleek compared with the wing struts and stalky gear sticking out of the 172.

The only thing that stuck in my mind flying the Archer was the fuel system, which is very different to the nigh on fool proof gravity fed system the Cessnas have. The Archer has low wings, and the fuel is stored in the wings. It has to use an engine driven fuel pump and an electric backup pump to do what gravity does in the Cessna (although the Cessna does have an engine driven pump as well). Now the fun part is that the Archer has a rather large switch that allows you to change which tank the fuel flows from, as opposed to the Cessna's switch which has a handy 'both' setting which you just set and leave. Every 30 minutes in the Archer you have to switch tanks in flight, but fuel discipline starts on the ground before you start the engine.

As I've previously said earlier, the circuit is a busy place, and as you add complexity to your aircraft, the amount of things you need to remember to check and monitor grows. But the catchall checklist drummed into me from my first flights in the circuit still applies. Brakes, undercarriage, mixture, propellor, fuel, hatches and harnesses, landing light. There is more to check but at least you never forget.

I did a couple of normal touch and goes to get into the swing of landing and then started to experiment with precision approaches, flapless and glides. The Archer compared with the 172 doesn't glide as well so you need an awful lot of height to combat sink. One of my glide approaches I had to apply power to make the field. Another one I had to go around because I was high. A precision approach on the other hand is quite easy to do in an Archer because its such a stable plane you can just set it up and ride it in.

It was a good hour fine tuning things and next time I go up will be my MAUW check prior to getting a rating.