Lesson 172
29 June
1.3 hours

I went up with Adam for my first flight in a Cessna 172.  It looks so much like a 152 that most people don't notice any difference. There are four seats instead of two, the engine produces 150 hp instead of 108, and it's harder to get into the thing.

If you're getting the idea that I didn't exactly fall in love with N7739G this afternoon, you're getting close.

It's about 400 pounds--about 25%-- heavier than a 152, and it goes 5 or 10 knots faster.  It has a back seat.  That's all nice.  On the other hand, it has an absolutely screwy front seating arrangement.  To get in, you have to slide the front seats back two or three feet--and then slide them forward again so you can get your feet anywhere near the rudder pedals.

I found that it flies smoothly and is quite stable.  It needs a lot of trimming, though--with every little change in power or airspeed.  If you don't trim, the controls get heavy fast, and I found that in some situations when I hadn't trimmed I had to haul back rather hard.  If I hadn't already learned the utility of trimming, the 172 would have made a believer of me fast. Your arms would soon get tired from pulling and pushing.

We flew west a few miles and did some steep turns--which seemed quite easy in the 172--some stalls, slow flight, and an engine-out simulation.  Then we went back to the airport and did some landings.  Here's where I found out what I don't like at all in the 172--the flap mechanism.  In the 152, there's a long flap lever, with detents for 10 degrees and (in most of them) for twenty degrees.  No flaps and full flaps are at the ends of the lever's range.  (There's also a flap position indicator but the position of the handle is easier to see and feel.)  In the 172, however, there's just a little spring-centered toggle switch, with absolutely no indication of flap position to it.  There IS a flap position indicator, but it's a round dial far over on the right and almost impossible to read.  And of course you have to LOOK at it in order to know where the flaps are.  I found it easier just to look out the window at the flaps themselves.  You can count seconds while pushing on the switch, but that's not exactly the most intuitive feedback method.  The flaps go from zero to 40 degrees, but I was never sure of where they actually were.   And the flaps retract so slowly that tough-and-goes could get hairy on a short runway.  It took me quite a while to get the hang of flap control.

Anyway, I did a few landings, but wasn't too happy with any of them and will get Adam to go up with me again for a few more before I try carting any passengers along.

Frankly, I found flying the 172 rather boring, compared to the 152--and especially after tooting around in that little RAN S-12, the other day.  So I guess I learned something today.

Back to "Learning Flying"
My home page.