Our long awaited brand new Grand Caravan just arrived in Congo and all the pilots have been getting checked out as it is SO different and new compared to our older one. Which is serial number 10 Caravan off the line from Cessna. This is the news Caravan in our MAF fleet and is longer and carries more. But the real difference is the cockpit. With the new Garmin 1000’s it has taken the jump into the next generation of technology. It is commonly referred to as a “glass cockpit” instead of what are now referred to as the old “steam gauges”.
I remember once being at the little hospital airstrip at Nkayi in Zimbabwe and showing my 206 to a very old chief who commented, “Oh, there are so many watches!” Coming from a time when the most complicated man made thing in his village was probably a spear that really amazed him. But the new Grand Caravan has just 3 big computer type screens that have all the flight instruments and engine instruments and navigation instruments right in front of you. Not only that, but by pushing a button you can see all the weather ahead of you and any traffic in the area and what the terrain looks like all around and if there are any hazards like that. Lightning strikes show up on a screen, a flight plan for the day, how much fuel you have and the burn right now, as well as a range ring showing how far you can get on the map at that burn. It is a wonder.
Actually, I am still in wonder all the time right now. I just took my first flight in N917KS yesterday with Brian Shepson, Chief Pilot from our headquarters in Nampa. Brian is an amazingly patient and thorough instructor and his deep knowledge of the systems and procedures makes learning so much easier. He is making it a joy to learn. I sometimes think that there is a real reason they come up with sayings like “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” But even after only one flight, I can feel things coming and most of it is very intuitive already. The 570 some pages instruction manual on the G-1000 highlights how much there is to learn though, and it will probably be a little bit before I feel like the plane is just an extension of my body as I feel in the other planes.
Well, I am sure there will be more on this later. I was too busy yesterday to take any pix of the cockpit or other things so you can look for that in the future.