Diamond DA40

The weather has been hit and miss (mostly miss) this summer. Doug and I scheduled all afternoon to fly together. I was planning to fly up to Franklin County, about 20 minutes from his house, pick him up and fly around the lake to the north near the Virginia border. I had everything planned and ready, but the weather made a turn for the worse. The clouds were hanging around after a cold front passed and they were too low to make the trip safely, so we scrapped it.

It was, however, Second Saturday at the club, so I decided to go to the airport anyway and eat and hang out. There were a lot of people there; most of them I didn’t recognize. Future Members is what our president likes to call them.

Premier Aircraft Sales was at the club with a Diamond DA40 and a DA20 on display. They were giving demo rides in the DA40 for those that signed up. After eating and chatting for an hour or so, I sat in on the new Student Pilot Group meeting that the club is trying to start. I’m not a student pilot anymore, but it’s a support group that can benefit from those that have already been through the process.

About half way through the meeting, the Diamond sales guy came in and said they had two more seats on their last ride if someone wanted to go. “I’ll go!” I left the meeting and met with two others (both student pilots – one interested in buying a Diamond some day) and the sales guy. We gave some info and signed some papers (if we crash, it’s not their fault, etc.) and since I was the only non-student pilot, I got to sit left seat. That’s right! I was going to fly a Diamond DA40! Woohoo!

We piled in and Ryan, the demo/sales pilot in the right seat, gave us all a preflight briefing and told me that he was PIC (of course) but that I’d be doing most of the flying (cool!). He started the plane; I taxied out and he did the runup.

It has a G1000 glass cockpit with all the fancy computer-driven instruments, weather, traffic, etc. Too much to take in at once, but I had some exposure to it in computer flight simulators, so I knew enough to get by.

I took off and climbed out like never before. I’d never flown in a small low wing plane, so the view was much different. It handled very nicely; smooth and requiring very little input to make it turn and climb/descend. At 2000 feet, just below the clouds, I did a couple turns, then some slow flight. Wow! What a difference. Slow flight in a C152 gives me no visibility straight ahead. In this thing, it was much the same as straight and level flight with a slightly nose-low attitude. I could see were I was going!

After slow flight, I did a stall (or so said Ryan). It was hardly a stall to me. The plane handled it very well. So well that I couldn’t really tell that it stalled.

Ryan took over and demoed the auto-pilot. He pointed out nearby traffic on the display and had the auto-pilot line us up for an instrument approach. The airplane flew itself into position for a straight in approach on runway three. After intercepting the glide slope, it started to descend. With a couple hundred feet to go, Ryan had me turn off the auto-pilot and left it for me to land (with him at the ready to help). It was actually quite easy to land. No flaring like in a C152; just ease it on to the runway letting the main gear touchdown first. I taxied back and Ryan parked it.

Now that was fun! Any brand new plane would be fun to fly, but it was nice to fly one for free and get an intro to low-wing, glass cockpit, and a stick (instead of yoke) all at once.

With a price tag over what we paid for our house, I won’t be buying one any time soon.

P.S. I got my permanent driver-license-style Private Pilot Certificate in the mail today. I don’t think I’ve ever held a more expensive (and rewarding) piece of plastic. It sure is pretty.