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I have done virtually all of my training and received my private pilot’s license in a 180 hp high wing Cessna 172 Skyhawk.  I have been checked out in the G1000 avionics as well, but I have always wondered what the “visual” difference would be like flying a low wing aircraft.  

Piper Arrow

Cessna Skyhawk

So I scheduled time with my instructor in a Piper Arrow.  Being the novice that I am I did not realize the Arrow was not only low wing, but a “complex” trainer.    The Piper Arrow has retractable landing gear and a constant speed (variable pitch) propeller.  Since the landing gear is retractable with additional horsepower, the plane is significantly faster than the fixed gear Cessna Skyhawk.  The Arrow is also used for training for students seeking their commercial license, instrument rating and/or instructor’s certificate.

So in a nutshell, I added some rather significant variables with landing gear, variable pitch prop and more horsepower, not to mention, a new manufacturer with some different instrumentation and equipment placement.   So we started out with a little bit of ground work to understand the systems of the Arrow.  Other than the obvious ones that were new to me, this particular aircraft had separate fuel tanks that needed to be managed and switch from time to time, and an electric fuel pump since it is a low wing.   Fuel is pump up to the engine as opposed to the high wing gravity feed …. hmmm, gravity, to me that sounds so much more reliable. 

So once I understood in general how the equipment works and the things to be concerned about we headed to for take-off.  It had been a blustery weekend with 15-18 kt winds out of the west with gusts up to 25, but when we headed to Runway 29 in the late afternoon the skies were clear and the winds were almost calm.   Perfect for a new experience in a new aircraft.   Rotation was different, Vy was different and when we got to cruise headed westbound I learned the phrase 25 squared.  2500 RPM on the prop, 25 psi on the throttle/manifold pressure.  I adjusted to 25 squared, trimmed the aircraft, headed west for the reservoir and enjoyed the view !! 

And what a view from this type of aircraft.  Flying felt more natural and easy when cruising, making turns and looking for traffic.  Of course, just like the Cessna, there are blind spots, but they just felt a bit more comfortable.  In addition, when making a turn, you didn’t have to do that little annoying “lift the wing, look, then turn”.  You just rolled into the turn and enjoyed the view.  Definitely a winner and I will go back for more training in this little complex trainer.