To get the 172 sign-off I had to take about 5-8 hours in instruction with my flight instructor which resulted in about 4 lessons including 1 night cross country flight! The extra instruction was to demonstrate I have the knowledge to safely operate the airplane. It had more complex systems and has a bit different setup. So what does the 172 have to offer over the 152? The largest difference are the 2 extra seats along with more than double the payload capacity. A few of the flying clubs 172s have autopilot’s which is nice for longer trips. All of the 172s in the flying club have full color map GPS navigation systems as well. The best part about the Cessna 172 is that it is the safest general aviation aircraft on record.
My cross country night flight was the highlight of my 172 training! The flight was planned from Redstone to Lewisburg, TN and back to Huntsville International then a final landing back at Redstone. See flight to Lewisburg, TN (Ellington Field) detailed here. We departed about an hour after sunset into a spectacularly clear sky at dusk, you could see literally for miles, probably 40 miles visibility at 5500′ altitude. The air was clear and smooth as silk which made for a very short flight.
On the return flight to HSV I was able to try out the auto-pilot, this was always something I wanted to do and it was pretty cool to activate it and watch it track the GPS course with very high precision. I’m not sure what I expected it to do but but it put a smile on my face as it took the controls out of my hands.
I now have 5 more airplanes to add to my list of planes to fly at Redstone, so aircraft availability shouldn’t keep me from flying. Now I have to work on getting some better weather, February was an awful weather month and delayed my 172 training. Hopefully spring is here to stay and good flying weather will be more abundant.
My Cessna 172 training flights used all 5 redstone 172s, they are a mix of 172N, 172S and 172R models ranging from 1978 to 2002 model years. It took a total of 6.3 Dual Training hours (with flight instructor) on 5 flights.