Yesterday I met with Devin to get some familiarization training with the Piper PA-28 Cherokee. It’s a low-wing design, and I was eager to give it a whirl.
I’d heard that there were handling differences between the Cherokee and the 172s with which I’m familiar. I must say, the differences seem quite small; I was prepared for some sort of drastic comparison, but in reality the PA-28 was just plain fun to fly. Although mechanically of an older design — it is a 1965 aircraft, after all — I felt that it was powerful, responsive, and thoroughly stable in flight. In fact, I’d go so far as to say it was more stable than the 172. Either that or I was having a really exceptional flying day.
In particular, it stalls in an almost lazy fashion. Slow flight, steep turns, turning stalls…all were ridiculously easy. I almost think they should teach folks to fly in this platform instead of the Cessna!
Devin asked me to give him one more hour with me in the plane to practice some other maneuvers, special landings, and so forth. I’m glad to do so, but in my heart I already feel comfortable with the plane, and even an affinity for it. Yes, the plane’s layout and interior says “we’re trying to make flying as much like driving as possible” with its miles-per-hour airspeed indicator and lap belts. Yes, its panel is rough looking and its avionics are virtually antiques. But it’s fast, it has a great view, and it’s just plain fun to fly!