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Astronomy From West Virginia

FLYING THE PIPER COLT

Recently, I had the occasion to fly a Piper Colt from a small grass strip in West Virginia.  The purpose of the flight was to test fly the plane with thoughts of purchasing it.  The Colt proved to be quite an experience, and I thought I would write a bit about it here.

 

When you first see a Colt, the impression is that it is tall.  I did not measure it, but the seat seems to be eight or ten inches higher than the seat in a Cessna 150.  The tail sits up high and the fuselage seems massive, almost as if it has been inflated like a balloon.  The overall looks of a sharp Colt cannot be beat, however.  This plane has some style.  I could not help but think that it looks a little like an airplane from a Japanese cartoon.

 

The preflight inspection is very simple.  There are no flaps, and the airframe is simplicity itself.  The engine is the Lycoming O-235 and it is easy to check out.  In short order, you are ready to fly and you climb up - way up - into the cockpit.  I was reminded of a Monocoupe I once sat in.  Though the Colt is a tri-gear plane, the lineage of the plane goes back to the 1920's and 1930's, and it shows.

 

Takeoff from the grass strip was not particularly fast.  In fact, the little Colt seemed to have a hard time getting itself into the air with two on board.  Once we were airborne, we passed over the trees way too close, and I got the chance to enjoy the scenery at low altitude for at least a mile.  The Colt climbs very flat, indeed!

 

Once at altitude, the plane is a delight to fly.  It is as stable as can be, and feels very steady in turbulence.  I loved flying the plane around at cruise.  It seems like a Golden Age airplane, and it handles like one too.  It is slow, but rather quiet, and the visibility of the ground is quite good.

 

Approach with no flaps does not present any troubles.  With the power at idle, the plane comes down - very fast.  You can reduce power and push the nose over and little speed will be picked up.  We set down and had the plane stopped in a thousand feet or so.  The plane actually is much better for short-field landings than for takeoffs.  With about fifty more horsepower, this would be a great plane for small strips.

 

As it was, the poor climb weighed on my mind, and I decided not to buy the little Colt.  It was a shame, because the plane was beautiful, with new Poly-Fiber and an overall condition that was "good as new." I'll always remember my flight in the Colt fondly.  - GW

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The Colt is a tall little airplane.

Takeoff from the grass strip was slow.

The Colt is a great plane for admiring scenery and just cruising along, low and slow.

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