2003: CPPP
Last updated Monday, 23-Jun-2003 14:10:34 EDT
The "Cirrus Owners and Pilots Association," COPA, runs a "Cirrus Pilot Proficiency Program," CPPP (or C3P).

Believing in recurrent training, I had signed up for a CPPP at Evansville, IN (KEVV) for last October. The weather didn't cooperate and I was not able to attend.

So I signed up again, this time for a CPPP at Des Moines, IA (KDSM) for May 16-18, 2003.
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Image from AirNav.com
This time the weather cooperated and I departed my home base, Cuyahoga County (KCGF), at about noon into a 700' overcast on an IFR flight plan. Air traffic control, ATC, routed me out over the lake for a bit and then on my way westward at 6,000 feet. The weather cleared a bit along the way and I flew over an undercast for a while. 05_16-01.jpg
The weather continued to clear, providing nice views. I made a planned stop at Kankakee, IL (KIKK) to stretch my legs and to get AVgas (you can never have too much fuel). Talk about flat country! KIKK has an FAA Flight Service Station on the field. I was able to walk in and get a face-to-face weather briefing and file for the next leg. http://img.airnav.com/ap/02284
Photo from AirNav.com
The IFR-filed hop from KIKK to Des Moines, IA (KDSM) was routine except for my arrival. ATC vectored me into a left downwind for runway 13. They also routed a 737 over me into that same downwind and cleared me to land behind the commercial jet. OK, no big deal. I just made sure to have lots of time between the jet's touchdown and mine. There was no way I was going to take a chance with wake turbulence.

I made so much space and time that the tower cleared another jet for takeoff before my touchdown. Tower even had to ask me to make s-turns to give that second jet time to depart. OK, so lots of s-turns-on-final later, I made sure to land short (well before the jet's liftoff point) and didn't experience any turbulence after all. All and all, made me smile.
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Photo from AirNav.com
We used Signature Flight Services (now Aircraft Service International Group, ASIG) at KDSM for our planes and the Radisson Hotel Des Moines Airport for us. Both provided excellent service. Each very nice room in the hotel had free, high-speed, internet access!05_18-01_ramp.jpg
My SR22 is way in the back...
On Saturday, for group B, this CPPP course included 3-1/2 hours of ground school on normal and emergency procedures (given by Luke Lysen of The Flight Academy); 3 hours of ground school on weather (given by Jerry Seckler); and 2 hours of flight instruction (my instructor was the excellent John Fiscus also of The Flight Academy).05_18_Fiscus.jpg
John Fiscus in front of my SR22
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The program also included an informal dinner on Friday night and a real sit-down dinner on Saturday night. At the Saturday night dinner, Mike Radomsky (COPA President) and I traded shots with our cameras. Mike won, catching me mid-laugh with my eyes closed, making me the goofier guy.
On Sunday my group B had 3-1/2 hours of ground school on Avionics (given by Mike Radomsky) followed by about 2 hours of flight training. That flight training ended at about 2:45 CDT. Then it was a scramble to get refuelled (supervising to get every possible drop into the tanks), get current and forecast weather, file a flight plan, catch a breath, and launch.

I wanted to get home before dark and I would lose an hour changing time zones. So, I decided to go non-stop. This would be my longest solo flight to date (about 630 mi.).
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Image from AirNav.com
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The flight, at 9,000 feet, went so well that it almost became boring. Most of the time I flew over an undercast (again). With little else to do I took cloud pictures. Sometimes I was well above the clouds and sometimes I was just skimming their tops...
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Sometimes the undercast thinned out and the ground could be seen. Flying eastward, the sun was well behind me and that made for good contrast in the images.

While Cleveland Approach vectored me toward KCGF I heard other pilots asking if Approach really expected them to fly a visual approach. I had the same question. Just a few miles out from home base, at 3,000 feet, I was still in the clouds. Instructed to descend to 2,200 I broke out of the clouds at 2,500 and found excellent visibility. Was switched to CGF Tower and cleared for an easy visual approach and landing. Wheels down at about 8:15 in good light.

All in all, it was a great trip and a great learning experience. I will almost certainly attend another CPPP when time permits.