February 27, 2005
Over the past few months while flying out of Blue Ash Airport I have encountered a fun looking plane called the Diamond Katana. I have always wondered what it would be like to fly it. I decided to find out first hand. For the past two weeks I have been planning to fly the plane but have been hampered by the weather. Saturday, the weather was hazy but clear enough to allow me to fly.
The plane is owned and rented by Blue Ash Aviation. It is the neighboring fixed based operator to the one I normally fly with. Before I could get out to the plane I had to fill out a few forms and have them review my logbook. But, that was only about a 15 minute set back. Then I met with Tom, a nice flight instructor, who would walk me through the pre-flight and accompany me on my flight and help familiarize me with the plane and its characteristics.
This plane is drastically different to the Cessna's I am used to flying. Here are some key differences:
- The Katana is a low wing plane
- The Katana uses a control stick rather than a yoke
- The are no doors only a sliding canopy
- The plane is built from plastic not aluminum
- Fuel is not gravity fed but requires a fuel pump
We spent 10 minutes reviewing the cockpit features then did a thorough walk around pre-flight check of the plane. After the pre-flight review was completed we climbed in, started her up and headed out to the runway. On our way out to the runway we reviewed the flight performance information. The Pilot Operating Handbook for this plane recommends the use of flaps for takeoff and has a specific takeoff setting for flaps. With the use of flaps the plane begins its takeoff rotation at just 44 knots. Initial climb is at 57 KIAS and then after flaps are raised the final climb is conducted at 78 KIAS.
I could not believe how quickly the plane jumped off the runway as soon as I pulled back on the control stick. This plane wants to fly! One of my biggest concerns for this flight was going to be flying by control stick versus the yoke I am accustomed to. Getting used to the control stick took about 10 seconds if that. It is really and easy way to fly.
We flew direct to the practice area. On the way I enjoyed the enjoyed the great view from the Katana's great canopy window. Once at the practice area I performed some 45 degree bank turns. It was at this point that I realized this was a sports car compared to the Cessna 152 which is a dependable plane but not built for performance. The plane maneuvered through tight 45 degree banks effortlessly. Next we performed a variety of stalls: Power off, Power on, Takeoff configuration, etc. Although the plane would stall it took barely any effort from me to recover from the stall. The plane naturally wanted to rotate back into a safe flying attitude. This plane just wants to fly!
We then returned to the airport to work on landings. Landings were my other concern coming into this flight. I wondered if landing a low wing plane would be much difficult from a raised wing plane. It really was not. I made four really nice smooth landings.
After the final landing the instructor said he was signing me off on the aircraft so I am free to fly it on my own. I am sure I will soon as it was a joy to fly!
February 18, 2005
This weekend I plan to take my first flight in the Diamond line of aircraft, flying a Diamond Katana rented from Blue Ash Aviation. This will be my first flight in over a month and I am itching to go. As a private pilot you can only rent planes you have been checked out in by the renter. So when I fly the Katana the instructor will familiarize me with the plane and ensure I understand how to fly it safely. After this flight or a subsequent flight I will be "checked out" on that plane and be able to rent it on my own.
To date I have only flown Cessna 152 and 172s. The Cessnas I have flown have been raised wing aircraft with a traditional yoke control. The Katana is a conventional low wing aircraft that is controlled by a control stick between the legs rather than a yoke. I always love new experiences so I am looking forward to flying a plane by stick and rudder. It will also be cool to have a new perspective from the air that will allow we to look up through the Katanas clear canopy.
I read a brief review of the Katana on AVWeb that makes it out to be a fun plane that is excellent for training flights. I will post a review after my flight with my review.