Ready for Multi
At the beginning of the week, two more multi-engine flights were left -- both basically simulated multi-engine checkrides, with the stipulation that if any maneuver was out of limits, we would practice it until it was within limits. But, since I had already done so well on the previous flight, Milen did not think that there would be any difficulties.
The flight with Milen, as anticipated, went quite well. Just about the only thing I needed a bit more work on that we repeated multiple times was the Vmc demo. I just could not seem to get the rudder pushed in far enough in order to induce Vmc at anywhere close to the published value of 65 knots. Instead, the plane began to be directionally uncontrollable at 75 knots or so. Granted, the published Vmc value is the value determined under a very specific set of conditions -- none of which were probably true at the time of our demo. But, at the same time, Vmc tends to go down in real-life, due to the fact that we rarely fly right at sea level and with the most rearward center of gravity, just to name a couple of the conditions. So, I guess the fact that it occurred at a much higher speed than published means that there's really a bit more rudder travel available, and I just needed to make sure to use it all.
The next flight went fine as well. This one was with another instructor -- he would check on my progress and make sure that everything was fine for the checkride. The dreaded Vmc demo seemed to go a bit better -- maybe the speed at which Vmc was occurring was the same, but the process was definitely a bit more smooth. But, as on every flight, there was a surprise! A circuit breaker was pulled on me, and as luck had it, it had to do with the landing gear system. I had to do an emergency extension -- but on retraction, I did not quite follow the checklist procedure, and I forgot to close the emergency gear extension dump valve. The gear wouldn't retract (duh!) It took me a while to figure out what's going on, but in the end, going back to the checklist ensured that I was able to complete the procedure successfully. Lesson is: use the checklist. And make sure you do not skip items.
Speaking of the landing gear -- time for an opinion. The emergency gear retraction on the Duchess is somewhere in the middle, as far as ease of use is concerned, out of all the retractables that I've flown (which, granted, is not too many). It's not as easy as the Piper Arrow, where you just hold an easily accessible switch, and the gear free-falls. But, it's not as hard as the Cessna Cardinal RG, where you have to hand-pump the gear down -- and it takes a considerable number of hand-pump strokes to actually do so. The Duchess, on the other hand, facilitates emergency extension by requiring the pilot to turn a dump valve a quarter turn to the left -- using a special "emergency extension tool." Couple of issues there: if you do not have the "emergency extension tool" handy, then extending the gear becomes much harder, if not impossible. Above that, the dump valve is located on the floor, between the pilot's legs. IMO, requiring someone to maintain heading and altitude in instrument conditions, with turbulence, while extending the gear using this method, would be challenging at best. But hey, I still think it's better than a hand-pump.
Anyway, the next flight in the twin will be the checkride. Both Milen and Dave (the check instructor) said that I am more than ready. I'll be taking the checkride with exactly 7.0 hours in the Duchess -- and less than a week after I had started my multi-engine training (I'm a bit behind with the posts, as usual). Wow!