Cirrus SR22 Conversion No Time To Muck About

Approaching Lanseria Runway 250 in a 21 knots gusting 33 knots crosswind.  Hang on folks.

I’m officially a twit.  An idiot.  Lazy. Incompetent.  Criminally stupid.  Pitifully backward in a world full of forward.   A chump.  A lump.  Or as my latin teacher would repeat regularly,  a Philistine.

This is all because I have decided to put on hold my attempts at writing all nine commercial pilot aviation exams at this point.  It’s all because of law.  Aviation law.  I manage a measly 60-odd percent when the pass mark is 75%.  So instead of suicide or further laceration of ego,  I decided to convert to the Cirrus SR22 from the SR20 while the proverbial licking of the intellectual wounds continues.

Why? I hear a veritable chorus of voices yell, oh why?

‘Cos its much faster and has more power.  In a nutshell.  So there, its public.  The vague ramblings about aviation philosophy have been replaced by a simple edict.   It’s got a bigger engine.

Approaching the threshold Runway 07 (opposite 250) – after an orbit to the left.

We’re a pathetic lot, us boys.  Still,  it took 4 hours instead of the usual 3 because I spent the last training session more worried about an upcoming gig at a wedding that afternoon than really concentrating.  And when you’re whizzing about the world at 300 kph you better have focus.  Sorry Steve (my instructor) who looked irritated after my shoddy landing back home at Lanseria.

But allow me to wax at least a little lyrical about said SR22?  Can we please look at some of the performance indicators.

It cruises at a whopping 184 knots,  or 340 kph.  It climbs at 1400 feet per minute (sea level), whereas planes like the Cessna Skylane only managed 924 fpm. To give you an example just how good that is,  an  Airbus A320 climbs at around 2200 feet per minute.


Well I know, its an explosion of gasps! !!  Yes folks,  the SR22 is a performance aeroplane.  After converting my first flight was to take a photographer (my son) on an excursion to Potchefstroom at low level.  That was exciting as there was an 18 knot cross wind at Lanseria.  Take-off was fine and we were off.  But before leaving Lanseria airspace I realised that there was just no way we could continue.  The plane was bucking and the turbulence was extreme.  And because of no flight plan,  I could not climb to a high altitude to escape the effect of wind whipping over the nearby hills and throwing us around like mad dolls.

So I contacted Lanseria and requested a return to airfield.  Runway 250 was in use with the wind coming from 330 – virtually 90˚ to the right.  It had increased to 21knots which is the Cirrus Cross wind capacity.  I wasn’t too worried,  having trained in heavy crosswinds through my great instructor’s insistence.  Russell Donaldson is a legend and he made me land the unforgiving Maule MX7 in a 30 knot crosswind so I was sure it would be fine.

That was until we were steady on short final,  when ATC advised me that the wind had begun to gust at 33 knots.  Leaping from 21 to 33 knots as a virtual 90˙ crosswind is a completely different kettle of fish.   That leads directly to what’s known as wind shear.  I considered aborting,  but then decided that my setup on the final was steady and I was in a good frame of mind that we’d go ahead.  However I decided should we have to do a go-around,  I’d fly to Pilansberg and wait there for the winds to die down.  Pilansberg would see that wind coming a lot straighter down the runway.


Ahead a Cessna 172 had bounced on landing and was warning about the extreme wind effect.  That made me a little more nervous.  Then we hit the wind shear which shifted the plane both down 50 feet and around 50 feet off the centre line.  But I was ready and pulled the plane back into line with the rudders,  aileron hard down into the wind, crabbing and we were over the threshold.  I held off as long as possible, then she was down.

See those dots?  Cows in a field. ©Keegan Latham 2016

We drifted a little to the right as I hadn’t straightened the rudders enough,  but not by much.  A good landing that could have gone extremely badly.  My son was calm throughout and said he was happy to be on the ground.  The SR22 is not to be trifled with,  heavier engine, faster, more right rudder.

We took off two days later in calm conditions and completed the video and photoshoot.  All safe.  All good.









Commercial pilot madness

I'm flying a Cirrus SR 20, and have a Maule MX7, Sports Cruiser and Cessna 172 rating.
I’m flying a Cirrus SR 20, and have a Maule MX7, Sports Cruiser and Cessna 172 rating.

The spirit of indominatable energy has flooded through the hallways at Latham manse.  It must be the first few days of a new year,  or perhaps its the sound of a mid-life crisis part II.  Bit like a world war, but fought introspectively, yet publically.  How quaint.  It has become necessary for the blogger known as ANC (aviate navigate communicate) to enter into that crazy world of commercial piloting.

Now don’t be confused.  The author is over half a century not out, and looking at making a ton.  So what would reduce this perfectly abnormal quad-dad into setting himself up to write the dreaded Commercial Pilot’s exams?  Perhaps its the psychosis of a youth born in the 60’s where men (mainly) walked on the moon?  A desperado intent on throwing his ageing chromosomes into the stratosphere?  Yes, probably.

In 2009 I managed to pass both the PPL exams and the crucial flight test to earn my wings as a Private Pilot.  Notice the words are in upper case.  Private Pilot.  Yes, we are a besotted lot, all whenwe stories and machine logic.  Still,  if anyone reading this is thinking of entering the aviation world through the General Aviation back door,  a few words of caution.

At the controls of the SR20 after landing. Note the side stick which takes some getting used to after a yoke and central controls.

It’s about dosh, darlings and daring.

The dosh part you get.  It’ll cost you around R250 000 in flying and training fees.  Then add transport costs to and from the aerodrome. Books.  Then exams. Then insurance (oh, and by the way,  no company offering life insurance will cover you until you earn your Commercial License… so don’t die before then please.)  It’s going to cost you a pretty bitcoin.  If you find anyone out there who’ll accept bitcoins.   While you continue to pay those other bills in your life.  Like rent, food, school fees, holidays to the Seychelles.  You know, the basic costs.

The darlings part are your loved one’s.  Changing your life to fit flying into the scheme of things will have an effect on your private life.  If Darling A et al aren’t ready for your new Starship Enterprise Endeavour – it’ll be divorce or dislocation.

Daring.  Do you really want to swing around the sky upside down attached to a small aircraft that responds to the buffeting atmospheric conditions like a wasp in a sandstorm?  Do you have the nerve.  No really, do you?  It’s not like buying a super Evinrude-powered speed boat and zooming up and down the Vaal while showing off to your entangled mistress and her two brats.  This is life and death in a moment stuff, solo.  If your tree falls in the big wide blue forest,  no-one will hear you scream.

And that’s just the beginning.

But like all folks who start flying then can’t stop,  I love the drug.  It’s true life, no buffing.  No outcome based rubbish here.  If you’re not good enough, boys and girls,  you just die.  If you are,  then you are still facing life and death decisions.  And that’s the drug, my puppies.  There’s no place for losers who bewail their imperfect youth and unequal social standing, waiting for some knight in political armour to offer a bail out clause for failure.  No place for the paternal state to assuage  your ego because you’ve maybe .. kind of .. not met the required outcome.  If you can’t fly,  you FAIL.

It’s pure.  No obfuscation.  Any dereliction and you’re putrification.  To misquote Puff-Adder-Diddly.  {The alternative fashion conscious rapping rockerbilly.}

As we meander our way through this commercial flying malarky,  I’ll keep updating this miserable little blog with the hope that somewhere, somehow, someone reads it an donates the further R300 000 I require to become a fully fledged ATPL Instructor Class 2 pilot.   Or even a full R500 000 to further cover other day-to-day expenses.