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11 Answers

Training for my Private in a Cardinal RG

Asked by: 2715 views Student Pilot

I am training for my private pilot and want to learn in my own plane.  I have found a Cessna Cardinal 177 RG locally (Hawaii) and have the following questions;

1. Is there a concern learning in a high performance retractable?

2. Are there any concerns in this aircraft for making trips from Oahu (where I live) to Molokai (where I own a vacation home) as I'll be crossing 45 miles of open water.

Thanks,

jeff

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11 Answers



  1. Jacques Dery on Dec 29, 2013

    I’m no CFI but feel I can answer

    1 – Gaining experience on an RG adds to the learning curve and risk be overwhelmed especially when falling behind in critical phases of flight. I would not recommend it.
    2 – Yes. An engine failure would mean ditching. No margin for safety here

    Jacques Dery

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  2. Best Answer


    Mark Kolber on Dec 29, 2013

    Short answer: no.

    The fact that a Cardinal is a complex airplane means that there may be a little extra training time pre-solo. But the trade off for learning to fly your airplane is usually acceptable. I’ve known people to did primary training in Cessna 182s and even in 210s.

    Btw, unless you have an unusual Cardinal RG, it’s complex but not high performance.

    Btw #2 Cardinal: great airplane.

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  3. Mark Kolber on Dec 29, 2013

    Also.

    Oahu to Molokai – none different than any other single-engine airplane.

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  4. James Fritz on Dec 30, 2013

    First check the insurance requirements. I owned a Cardinal RG and hours they require are much more than a non-complex airplane. Can be done but would take at least one and a half more instructional hours than a simple airplane and be more difficult but may be worth it as the Cardinal RG is a great plane to fly once you have really learned to fly it and are truly comfortable(don’t have to stop and think about what to do all the time with the basic requirements needed to be learned) flying it. Must have a lot of patience with the learning yourself and for the instructor also. Would not be easy but quite possible.

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  5. Jeff LeFebvre on Dec 31, 2013

    Thank you all for taking the time to respond. This site is GOLD! I feel I should be paying you ( or at least buying you a beer!).

    Thanks again. I met with the owner yesterday and hope to move forward…

    Jeff

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  6. Brian on Jan 03, 2014

    A Cardinal RG has a 200-horsepower Lycoming, and thus qualifies as a high performance plane for insurance and regulatory purposes.
    A Cardinal (either FG or RG) has different landing characteristics than most Cessnas or Pipers. You don’t “fly it on” to the runway. If you do, you’re likely to end up in a nose-gear bouncing oscillation that can escalate out of control without quick action on the throttle. It has a name: “the Cardinal Hop.”
    A Cardinal is a great plane for instrument training (great handling characteristics and outstanding stability), but I would not recommend it for primary training. Learn basic landing tecniques in simpler aircraft.
    My advice: Find a taildragger and fly it for 40-50 hours. Then move to a C150 or C172 or a PA28 and fly it another 50 hours. Then go out and get yourself a roomy 1970-1978 fixed-gear Cardinal. It will cruise at 125 knots on 10gph, has very few maintenance issues and will carry just about anything you’ll want to bring along in its roomy cabin.
    I’ve flown our C177B to all corners of the lower 48 since we purchased it in 1992.

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  7. Brian on Jan 03, 2014

    I’m not a CFI, but I can tell you some things about Cardinals.
    A Cardinal RG has a 200-horsepower Lycoming, and thus qualifies as a high performance plane for insurance and regulatory purposes. Keeping the landing gear safe and trouble-free requires vigilance and a bigger maintenance budget.
    A Cardinal (either FG or RG) has different landing characteristics than most Cessnas or Pipers. You don’t “fly it on” to the runway. If you do, you’re likely to end up in a nose-gear-damaging porpoising bounce that can oscillate out of control without quick action on the throttle. It has a name: “the Cardinal Hop.”
    A Cardinal is a great plane for instrument training and IFR trips (great handling characteristics and outstanding stability) and comfortable long-distance cruising, but I would not recommend it for primary training. Learn basic landing techniques in simpler aircraft.
    My advice: Find a taildragger and learn to fly in it, and fly it for 40-50 hours. Then move to a C150 or C172 or a PA28 and fly it another 50 hours. After you earn your private ticket, go out and get yourself a roomy 1970-1977 fixed-gear Cardinal of 180 hp and constant-speed prop. It will cruise at 125 knots true on 10gph, has very few maintenance issues and will carry just about anything you’ll want to bring along in its roomy cabin.
    I’ve flown our C177B to all corners of the lower 48 since we purchased it as our family transportation in 1992.

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  8. Mark Kolber on Jan 03, 2014

    >>A Cardinal RG has a 200-horsepower Lycoming, and thus qualifies as a high performance plane for … regulatory purposes.

    No it doesn’t Brian. I can’t say how any particular insurer may decide to rate an aircraft for its own risk management purposes, but it is definitely not high performance for regulatory purposes. The applicable reg defines a “high performance” airplane as “an airplane with an engine of more than 200 horsepower” (Ref 61.31(f))

    The Cardinal is one of a number of 200 HP aircraft (the Arrow is another common one) that are close to but not high performance. As the story goes, the manufacturers purposely kept them at 200 HP specifically in order to avoid the HP classification.

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  9. LTCTerry on Jan 03, 2014

    The US military does primary training in turboprop aircraft. Their average time to solo is essentially no different that that of the civilian/GA world training in 152s. If you’ve never flown a simpler aircraft, then prop/gear handle are just a couple extra items on the checklist.

    A Cardinal doesn’t land differently if you’ve never flown anything else…

    Now, what the insurance company has to say about it is a different story. However, once the OP has passed his checkride, he’ll be very comfortable in the aircraft.

    Just my opinion. 🙂

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  10. Yogi on Sep 17, 2014

    Hi folks,

    Brilliant discussion, many thanks to all of you.

    I have been reading quite a bit about the Cardinal FG vs RG…I have yet to figure out the real advantage of a RG over FG esp for a Cardinal? 200 vs 180 HP so a little better performance? About 4-5 Kts extra speed? Better looks? I personally regard the last one as irrelevant as it looks great when in the air but the pilot is inside, he/she can’t see that look 🙂

    Is it worth the hassles of higher insurance, more training/currency/hours to get insurance. Fear of forgetting to open the gear?…

    thanks a lot for your inputs.

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  11. Jeff LeFebvre on Sep 18, 2014

    Great Comments! (Love this site!)

    I was able to obtain insurance through AOPA for just under $3k/yr with assurance that my rate would drop with time in type. Given that I am a student pilot with no time I was thrilled I could even obtain insurance…

    Regarding RG vice FG – I only selected this type as the inventory is VERY limited here in Hawaii and the plane was in awesone shape, low hours (1400 TT, 90 SMOH) and maintained by a motor-head who went the extra mile in care for the plane… I would have preferred FG for simplicity, insurance cost etc but it wasn’t available…

    Having said that, my CFI has me working the gear (running cgumps) with each takeoff and landing and if I remain methodical in my processes I hope to never experience the gear-up landing.. I’m an older guy (49) and fully aware of my mortality so I’m not a risk taker.. I’ll follow my checklist carefully…

    I do feel the plane is faster than I would like but I suspect that in this stage of my training any plane would feel that way… (wish I started my training 30 years ago…)

    As I’ll be commuting back and forth with my family from Oahu to Molokai I do wish I had more payload (empty wt – 1764, Gross wt – 2800) but I’m so jazzed about this plane right now it will be some time before I move up to my target aircraft (PA 32 6/300) 😉

    Thanks,
    Jeff

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