It does well with nominal back-pressure on the stick to bank angles up to 45 degrees, while
allowing me to porpoise slightly above and below my entry altitude.
workout with me threading the needle of
marginal VFR, flying made more comfort-
able by the Garmin system’s active Terrain
and Obstacle avoidance software.
Thanks to the help of the avionics, an
accommodating Approach Control staffer
and a bit of a break, we managed to circumvent the weather and come around to TLH’s
Runway 27, landing in a rain squall that
dropped visibility to under three miles. But
by then, we were on the ground, safe and
sound, and feeling just a bit worked over
from the day’s flying—but only 146 miles
farther than our last stop.
;us ended any hopes of making Tampa;
we’d covered 513 nautical miles when we
needed closer to 690.
;e next day we filed for our o;cial end-
of-trip desitnation: Tampa Executive (VDF),
177 nautical miles away. Cruising across the
northeast elbow of the Gulf of Mexico we
found none of the tail winds the forecast
promised—but no winds to hinder our progress, either. After a little deviation o;-route to
give Kirby a look at the runway on Cedar Key,
we interrupted our progress to do some of the
air work that normally accompanies a pilot
report. ;at’s when the SkyCatcher showed me
how slowly it can stall—high 30 knots, no
break—and how well it handles steep turns
and roll reversals. It does well with nominal
back-pressure on the stick to bank angles up
to 45 degrees, while allowing me to porpoise
slightly above and below my entry altitude.
;e experience left me wishing we had
time to play more—but we needed to remain
goal-oriented and turned back on course
Just under two hours after starting
our 10th leg of the trip, VDF came into
sight. After setting up for a right base to
Runway 27, and a nice short slipped descent,
one of my better landings ended the o;cial
SkyCatcher odyssey from San Diego.
Nothing inferior about this sport
airplane: The SkyCatcher demonstrated
a;rmatively that a small sport plane with
the modest primary mission of flight training as well as fun flying o;ers capabilities
beyond its original intent—real travel,
covering real ground, some 1,940 nautical
miles from San Diego. And the C162 looks
as good as it flies.
Dave Higdon is a Wichita-based aviation writer/
photographer and 5,000-hour pilot who started his
career flying hang gliders and ultralights.
This spring EAA will take delivery of
SkyCatchers serial numbers 2 and 3. The
aircraft were donated by the Emil Buehler
Perpetual Trust to help inspire, motivate,
and challenge youth as well as to support the future of aviation.
The SkyCatchers will be used by EAA’s
Air Academy to provide 20-minute orientation flights to campers, and by EAA
sta; and volunteers at Pioneer Airport
to provide Young Eagles flights.
SkyCatcher No. 1 goes to Rose Pelton,
wife of Cessna CEO and President Jack
Pelton. After seeing the prototype
SkyCatcher, Rose remarked to Jack that
it looked like an airplane she’d enjoy
flying…and thus the fate of SkyCatcher
No. 1 was sealed.