The installation has been completed for several days now and the ground run was a success. I went over the aircraft with a fine tooth comb looking for errors but couldn't find any. Over the last few days Santa Maria has been covered with a layer from 1,200ft and the tops were around 2,400ft. Nothing to get excited about in the IFR world but all of our test flights must be completed in VFR conditions. An installation of this magnitude I require two pilots to be aboard; one to fly the machine and one to put all of the equipment through its paces.
Finally, the cloud base rose to 3,300ft so away Mr. Ford and I went. As we neared the coast line the ceiling started to drop which put a damper on checking out the ILS capture and altitude preselect. These functions did check good on the ground test so I had no doubt the system would operate correctly airborne. We called up a flight plan on the Garmin GNS 430 and activated it once airborne. The selected flight plan was displayed on the GNS 430 and the monster UPSAT MX20 MFD. I wish you could have seen Mr. Ford's expression when the MX20 displayed the flight plan, coast line and restricted areas. In my opinion, the ultimate pilot's package would be the combination of a UPSAT MX20 and a GNS 430/530. We've installed several of these packages and our customers just love them. Mr. Ford elected to order the optional ChartView for the MX20 but he hasn't obtained the service from Jepp's yet.
After takeoff we set the autopilot to GPSS and cranked in 600ft/min for a rate of climb; the S-Tec System 55X kept the Cessna pointed in the correct direction. Mr. Ford optioned for the Altitude Pre-Select and Flight Director for the System 55. Due to the weather I didn't have the opportunity of teaching Mr. Ford how these features worked but once the Cessna climbed to 2,500ft we pressed the Altitude Hold button and the nose leveled off. Mr. Ford set the rudder trim, power and was looking for something else to do. It was hard for him to accept the S-Tec System was now tracking the flight plan in the GNS 430 and would make the necessary turns and was keeping the altitude where Mr. Ford had selected. I told him he'd need to get used to monitoring the systems and dealing with ATC. There's no doubt a setup like this Cessna T210G will lessen the pilot's workload and we all know how nice that can be at times. As we started to descend, Mr. Ford pressed the Vertical Speed button, cranked in 500ft/min and the aircraft started down. He couldn't believe how well all the systems were integrated. When he found out his King KCS-55A HSI never need to be set or adjusted he was beside himself. He landed, kicked me out and Mr. Ford took off again before the weather closed him in.
As you probably read prior, this was the toughest installation we have ever completed. The Cessna 210G is VERY difficult to install an autopilot in the tail section, we had to replace a difficult trim cable and we had to deal with S-Tec and an engineer on changes with the autopilot STC that were not correct for this aircraft. I figure this installation took about three weeks longer than it should and Mr. Ford agrees. Bottom line is, I doubt you'll find a nicer T210G anywhere in the world. This aircraft has a new 310 horsepower engine installed and for you folks that say that extra power doesn't make a difference, you are wrong. Due to weather, I couldn't get some good numbers but the machine jumps off the ground and easily climbed 1,200ft/min. At 2,500ft, 28 inches and 2,500RPM this Cessna was flying just below the yellow arc! I can only imagine how fast this thing would be up high. Also this Cessna T210 is the smoothest and quietest I've ever flown. What Mr. Ford did was take an older Cessna, equipment with nice interior, monster engine and an avionics package anyone would lust after and did it for about the same price as a new Cessna 172. I was concerned about Mr. Ford's flying skills due to the fact he hadn't flown sense January but my concerns were not warranted. He handled the T210G like a pro during our test