My favourite competition

We had the club competitions recently to determine who would represent the club at the regionals.  I entered my favourite competition and the one I am the defending champ, the liferaft drop. What was different this year was that we were going to use a Piper Pa28 Cherokee 181 Archer for the drop rather than the tried and true 172M JGP.

Why this occurred is quite technical, but it boils down to a little read part of the 172 flight manual which forbids door-less ops for everything except parachuting unless an approved restraining device is fitted across the door frame and the occupants are harnessed in using an approved harness system.

The aero club doesn't have an approved restraining device to put across the door frame, and apparently the seat belts are not an approved harness system either.  The cost to engineer one, have it wrangled through the relevant bureaucracies in order to get it supplemented into the flight manual would cost an arm and a leg and quite frankly would also be a waste of effort because missions requiring door-less ops are quite rare and it would take years to repay the investment.

However, there is a supplement in the Cherokee flight manual which permits removal of the cargo hatch door as long as the occupants are restrained using the safety belts provided by Piper.  Problem solved!  Also there is an initiative to change the flight manual supplement for the 172 so that liferaft dropping can be included in the list of approved door-less ops.

I didn't notice too much difference flying the Archer without the hatch, other than the increased wind noise, but it was no where near as loud as it gets in a 172. My intrepid dispatcher Andrew thought it was easier to manage his role as well.  As far as the actual flying is concerned I quite liked using the Cherokee for this task, and I may opt in future competitions to use it over the 172.


interesting. I'm gonna take a look at my POH. I think our flight school does photo shoots with the doors off.
It horrified me to see it at first ....