Jill Tallman

Best of both worlds

July 25, 2008 by Jill W. Tallman, Associate Editor

On Tuesday, Associate Editor Ian Twombly and I flew N208GG, AOPA’s Get Your Glass Sweepstakes Archer, from Brandywine Airport in West Chester, Pennsylvania, to Frederick, Maryland. I was pretty excited about the opportunity because I have a bunch of Archer time, and this beautiful airplane didn’t disappoint me. Where to begin? First, there’s that Knots 2U baggage door strut. If I had a Cherokee and $179, that would be the first upgrade I’d do, thinking back on the times I’ve accidentally let go of the baggage door and hit myself in the head. Then there’s that sleek black leather interior. Admit it, you’ve had the same thoughts as me: Black leather interior? Won’t that be hot, and not in a good way? The airplane had been sitting outside Penn Avionics’ hangar on a 90-degree mid-July day, and when we opened the passenger door and climbed in, I braced myself for the expected pizza-oven blast. None came. The interior wasn’t cool as in “Oh, thank God for air conditioning,” but neither was it the unbearable heat you’d expect. You can thank the LP Aero windows for that. And you will, trust me. Oh, and those seats? They’re so luxurious, you’ll wish you had them in your family room.

Flying the airplane was simple yet still great fun. It’s still an Archer, and it flies like an Archer. But those speed mods work. At 3,000 feet msl and 90 degrees F we were seeing indicated airspeeds of 130 to 140 mph.

Here’s where you’re expecting me to wax poetic about the airplane’s avionics. Time for a brief confession: I’m a steam-gauge pilot, so I don’t have much to compare it with unless you count one brief flight in a Cirrus SR20. I will say that the Aspen Avionics EFD1000 primary flight display is straightforward and didn’t overwhelm my unused-to-MFD eyes. I could glance at the back-up airspeed and attitude indicators if I needed to, so basic flying was uneventful. On a mid-summer afternoon where every cloud deck looked as if it might have convective potential, I also liked the fact that we could get weather via the Avidyne MLB 700 datalink and lightning information via the L-3 Communications Avionics Systems’ WX500 Stormscope.

Ian is flying N208GG to AirVenture next week so that you can see all of these cool upgrades for yourself. An Archer might not be the fastest ride to Wittman Regional, but 208GG will get Ian there in style, no question about it.

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