On departure, I held runway heading and pointed the nose up to maintain 110 knots, a speed that kept us climbing well in excess of 1,500 fpm as we headed up in steps toward our final altitude, FL 240. The Corvalis doesn't have a yaw damper, but it does have an electric "rudder hold" feature that will hold the approximate current rudder input in the climb. It's a nice muscle-saving feature, though I wish there were a yaw damper, even if it would add some weight.
Like any TSIO-550-powered single climbing at full power, the Corvalis TT burns a lot of fuel in the climb, around 35 gallons per hour, and that's one of the least desirable things about climbing high. You burn a lot of fuel getting up there. A reduced power climb burns less fuel but takes more time. It's a tradeoff depending on if you're getting enough of a push, and on that day heading west and with very light winds, there was no good reason to climb to 240, except to see what it was like. Moreover, you probably hate the mask as much as I do, which is a lot, though I'll put up with it for 70 knots on the tail. On many trips, 20 knots would make it worthwhile. Four knots? Not so much.
In cruise, the Corvalis is a remarkably comfortable platform from which to while away the hours while assessing the progress of the flight. There's a full contingent of tools for both purposes. The XM Weather is there to get the latest updates on cells, fronts and conditions at the destination, as well as wind reports. Because I fly in the teens a lot, the winds aloft feature on XM has become a favorite of mine, Even in descent, the G1000 comes in handy, allowing me to dial in the desired altitude at any given point in the plan and calculating a rate of descent to that point, or just letting the GFC 700 autopilot do it for me.
As I said, the airplane hand-flies very nicely. On approach to Houston's David Wayne Hooks, I flew the approach — we broke out of the broken layer at around 1,500 feet. The Corvalis is a delightful airplane to fly on final, stable and responsive.
And the airplane is just as nice to land. I was aiming for the first turnoff on 17R, which we made easily despite it being just more than 1,000 feet down the runway. And it was my first landing in the airplane in about a year.
The level of performance and style you get with the Corvalis TT comes at a price: around $650,000 very nicely equipped.
What the Corvalis has going for it is a combination of features, from the most sophisticated, like synthetic vision, to ones you'd never notice, like redundant attach points on every control surface, carefully crafted gull-wing doors that close easily and positively, lumbar supports on the seats, push tube controls and the electrically inflatable door seals to quiet the cockpit. Everywhere you look with the Corvalis you see another way that its designers worked in ways both large and small to make it safer, more comfortable and more durable. And for lack of a better word, all of those features add up to an unmistakable sense of quality, which, in my book, is the ultimate feature. For more information on the Cessna Corvalis visit www.cessna.com.
For more photographs of the Corvalis and its redundant systems, download the January iPad editon of Flying available on the App Store.