A few weeks ago, I had the awesome opportunity to take a flight lesson in Gulf Shores, Alabama. I flew out of Jack Edwards Airport (JKA), with Rod Kellogg as my flight instructor. You can read about that flight + see photos and videos via this link: Piper PA-28 Warrior Flight Over Gulf Shores

Rod was so kind and welcoming to me as a new student pilot to the area. After we finished up with our Piper Warrior flight, he offered me the chance to fly in another type of plane I hadn’t ever flown in — the Piper PA-32 Cherokee Six (N43998). I was to fly with Joseph Olmstead, a PPL holder that just graduated from High School and is around my age (a few years older). I sat in the right seat of the plane, Joseph, in the left, and Rod (an instructor), in the back.

The Piper Cherokee Six was much larger than anything I’d ever flown before. The Cherokee Six can carry 5-6 passengers with one pilot. It’s nearly 28 feet long and has a wingspan of nearly 33 feet. It has a gross weight of 3,400lbs. In addition, the Cherokee Six has a cruise speed of 168mph (max of 174mph). It also has a range of 840 miles and a high service ceiling of 16,250 feet. N43998 is a Piper PA-32 300 which was built in 1977.

Doing the walk-around on the Cherokee Six was pretty cool. It was especially different for me to look into the cabin of the aircraft and see quad seats, facing each other. The plane was by far nicer (interior wise) than anything I’d flown. In the back, it had a built in cooler, cup holders, etc. The cockpit section of the plane is a lot more spacious as well. The plane just felt bigger and heavier in general.

The plan for the day was to take off from JKA, head over to the shore, and get me to do a few maneuvers in the plane–to get a feeling of what it’s like to fly a heavier, larger aircraft. We took off from Runway 6 at JKA and headed Southwest at about 3,000 feet.

Here is a video from my youtube channel (MartinsAviation1) of our first takeoff from JKA:

I really enjoyed flying the PA-32. It felt heavier than anything I’d flown before…but also felt more smooth. With added weight, there is less of a feeling when you hit any bumps in the air. The controls were smooth and easy to manipulate. I did a few steep turns, ascents, descents, and turns to a heading. (just some basics to get the feel of the plane). I was a little hesitant at first to really put the plane into a steep turn because I hadn’t flown anything that large before.

After our quick flight, we headed back to JKA for a landing on Runway 6. Coming in a little high, I found it really cool how the heavier aircraft could bleed off speed and altitude very quickly. In the video below, you can see Joseph land the PA-32 on runway 6… an excellent landing! We went around for another pattern just so that I could see more characteristics of the aircraft. Here is the first landing and subsequent takeoff:

I want to thank Joseph and Rod for giving me that chance to experience a different type of aircraft, it was a great opportunity! Hopefully I’ll be back in Alabama soon and will visit again with the guys at Gulf Air Center.

Thanks again,
-Swayne Martin
Twitter: @MartinsAviation

About The Author

Swayne Martin

I started this website to show you why you'll love becoming a pilot. As an owner and editor of Boldmethod Pilot Training, I've spent years working with pilots all around the world to make their dreams a reality. For a full bio, click the "About" tab above. Use the "Contact" tab to shoot me a message.

2 Responses

  1. Karlene Petitt

    This is awesome! Maybe this is the plane I need to get. I’ll have to check the useful load. Heavier planes are much more stable for sure. I’m so excited to see your video of your first 787 someday.

    Reply
    • Swayne Martin

      Thanks Karlene! And it was awesome to fly, I’m sure you’d love it!

      I really like how it has the seats facing each other in the back… so cool, and a little unusual for a single engine prop!

      Thanks again for the comment,
      -Swayne

      Reply

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