As much as I like the aero mods, the real gem is the No Doors main and nose landing-gears upgrade, which removes the troublesome 210 gear doors and hydraulic system for a "no-door," no-hydraulics system that doesn't seem to cut cruise speed a bit. I seldom give a completely unconditional recommendation, but in this case, it's a no-brainer. At around $6,000 total installed for doing both the main and the nose gears, it is an upgrade that will almost certainly pay for itself, if not the first time you have to bring the airplane into the shop, then surely the second time. Indeed, a lot of 210 owners get the mod when they arrive at the shop to get gear-door issues fixed. True, it's not as attractive in flight, but think about it: Who sees you when you're up there anyway?
Flying the Sierra Super Centurion
For pilots looking for a good value in an existing transportation airplane that they can upgrade, the Centurion, as I said, has much to offer.
In many ways it's two airplanes in one, a low and slow Cessna and a versatile cross-country machine, and Sierra's mods have done nothing to change the feel of it. Many 210 owners like the solid and predictable way the 210 feels, and I can see why. I do like the cabin, which, while not quite as roomy as my Cirrus, is plenty comfortable. I was just a bit closer to Gary than I would have been had we been in the Cirrus. The headroom is good, and Tom, sitting in back, looked plenty comfortable as he enjoyed the scenery and took photographs of the displays with my Pentax while we bumped along. The two far rear seats are small, but big enough to accommodate adults. I've seen it done.
The visibility from the 210 is good enough, even though I had to crank my seat pretty high to be able to see well over the nose. Like every high-performance piston single, the T210 is a fairly loud airplane. I was glad to have brought the Bose.
Because it was a short trip, we stayed down at 5,500 feet, and it was bumpy. Down at non-oxygen altitudes like this, the Turbo 210 is a 165-knot cruiser, which is 10 to 15 knots slower than the new-airplane competition is but faster than is a new Cessna 182 or Cirrus SR20. In the mid-teens, where some turbo owners fly, the Turbo 210 is comparable to the nonturbocharged Cirrus SR22 or Cessna Corvallis 350.
Then again, none of the new competition can compete with the 210 for load-carrying ability. At 3,800 pounds maximum takeoff weight, the 210 is a big airplane. It's also an excellent hauler. With tanks full — which gives you more than 800 nm of no-wind range — you can carry four 200-pound adults and their bags or four adults plus a couple of kids or smaller adults. Together, the rear seats and the rear baggage area with outside-only access give you some flexibility in how you load the airplane.
Is a 1977 Turbo 210 a true six-place airplane? That depends, I guess, on what you mean by "true." You can get six adults in the airplane with enough fuel to go somewhere meaningful, which is a lot more than you can say about many other six-seaters. But the two back seats are tight no matter how you cut it. The good thing is that the 210 feels a lot lighter and is easier to land when the CG is toward the back of the envelope.
Sierra's R/STOL High Lift kit does indeed seem to give the Centurion some extra margin at the low end. Flying my approaches at Cessna's book speeds, I was just too fast. Moreover, once in the flare, I could feel the aileron control well down into ground effect in a way I haven't felt in other 210s.
No doubt the right Cessna Centurion represents an excellent used option, though with Sierra's extensive refurbishment, the price — $385,000 for this particular low-time airplane — doesn't sound cheap. But considering all it offers, it's sure to command some lingering looks from pilots considering buying new but working out in their minds just what more — and what less — they'd be getting for that extra $200,000.
For more information about the Sierra Super Centurion or any of its numerous other mods, visit Sierra's site, sijet.com.