And now, with that disclaimer laid down, let me tell you about the most marvellous weekend I've had since Hamilton Island.
Having recently taken delivery of the most beautiful Australis in the country - VH-FIF, or FIFi, as she's now lovingly known - I've begun the most exciting part of my job: showing her off to pilots and potential pilots all over my territory. So, when OzRunways' Bas Scheffers mentioned he'd be at Mount Gambier Aero Club for a masterclass, and that I might like to come along and demonstrate the new SR22, I hopped (well, flew) to it.
Firstly, of course, I had to get those landings up to speed. Having not had a demo aircraft since the sale of ZZD, I had become rusty, to say the least. With my transition training completed in Avia's SR20 VDR, I hadn't landed a 22 since Tasmania in November. I booked in a few sessions with CSIP Nige Clark and hit the Bankstown circuit. I'd forgotten so much about the power differences between the SR20 and SR22 (nearly a THIRD more horsepower in the 22) that my right leg was aching after an hour of training and I went to bed that night dreaming of yaw dampers.
|The very patient Nige Clark|
On approaching Mount Gambier, Graham took over to demonstrate the IFR features to Dean, conducting an RNAV with vertical guidance, which blew all our socks off! I took over at 1000ft and managed a very passable landing (still more practice for me!) which set me up for a great evening (who doesn't let bad landings ruin their day?!)
Upon arrival we were met by the warmest reception from the members of the Mount Gambier Aero Club, with event organiser Paul Goodman and his lovely wife Sue offering us their car for the weekend. After a beer, we headed into to town for a gorgeous meal at the Commodore Hotel.
The next morning, we were joined by Cessna, showcasing their new 182 (which, suprisingly, has a 100KG smaller payload than the SR22!) and pilots from all over the state in Sportscruisers, Diamonds, Pipers and of course, Cirri, as well as a few C210s.
With FIFi parked up on the grass shining in her fullest glory, I commenced my favourite part of the job: showing people the aircraft and organising demos. With three lined up for Sunday morning, OzRunways commenced their masterclass.
|The wonderful chefs of Mount Gambier|
After the first course, the crowd were regaled by tales from Horsham Aviation's Tony Brand, a natural public speaker who presented with charm and grace. During the first course, it became apparent that my images were not going to play on the club's projector, and so I sought out Paul and told him it might be better if I abandoned my speech and let people simply enjoy the wine. However, Paul was having none of it, claiming he'd made up a great intro and I was simply to get on with it.
So, with perhaps a little more wine on board than is professional, I shot from the hip and told the story of the careers officer who claimed I was too stupid to learn to fly. Thank goodness for the generosity of the Mount Gambier club members, who were kind enough to offer applause!
After partaking in the very best red the region had to offer, and meeting some of the loveliest pilots in the state, I realised I was getting a little too glassy, and designated driver Bas drove us back for a great night sleep.
The next morning, we were served a breakfast fit for any Sydney cafe, followed by Geoff's very own freshly brewed espresso; I declared Mount Gambier my kind of town. Had it not been for my beautiful demonstrator needing to be flown back to Bankstown, I might have just stayed.
Mount Gambier Aero Club, Cirrus Australia thanks you for your wonderful hospitality; you have set the bar so very high for the rest of the Cirrus Demo Tour!