Opinions Quietly Fade
By: Ian Coristine

People buy this airplane because they are attracted to it due to all the unusual and interesting things it can do. Things that are more interesting and different than any G/A aircraft can do. What many don't realize, however, is that this also means it flies differently. Not a lot differently, but differently. Like transitioning to a glider or a taildragger, for example, where a thorough checkout would never be questioned by anyone.

This is not a Cessna, Piper, or Beechcraft. That's one reason people buy it. But they need to understand that the way to learn how to fly it is not by relying on their prior experience and skills (in nonrelated aircraft) but by being checked out on it by someone competent who can show them what it can do. Not just so they can fly it safely, but so they can explore and learn its unusual capabilities which are entirely different from the airplanes they are used to. There's no way they can know this stuff because their G/A airplanes can't do it.

Too many times I have heard "experienced" pilots say this plane is tricky, only to hear that opinion quietly fade away as they gain experience with it. In fact, here in Canada, we have a very large number of EXTREMELY experienced pilots (senior military, airline, and widely experienced bush pilots) who buy Challengers (actually, they're the easiest sale) and interestingly, it is never these guys who try to duck a checkout, though in many cases they don't need much of one.

The guys to be concerned about are those who have spent their time exclusively in Cessnas and Pipers, and who (often) don't think they need a few hours to relearn some things. I would dare say that you will not find any pilot, who has been properly checked out in a Challenger, or who as spent any reasonable time in one, that will EVER say it is difficult to fly. Only the low timers, especially from G/A, might voice this opinion. With experience, their opinion will turn 180 degrees... every time. Give it a shot. Try to find ANYONE who knows this plane that will call it difficult to fly. You won't because it isn't. In fact, precisely the opposite is true.

I would add one final bit of advice. If someone wants to post opinions about Challengers that someone else might consider to be based on an informed opinion, they should first find out if that writer is really knowledgable. They should then consider if that "informed opinion giver" has an axe to grind or perhaps, a different plane to sell.

Then they should check with Challenger owners, about what they're hearing. Our Canadian Challenger Owners Association has something close to 500 members that can be questioned. At the risk of causing a deluge of e-mail, the head of our ICOA with a list of owners is Major Claude Roy. His e-mail address is: arm-roy@cyberus.ca.

After an unmatched 20 year track record with well over 3,000 Challengers having been sold as of late summer (2003), if they had a problem of ANY sort, it would be WIDELY known, not just whispered about on obscure websites. You can't hide dirt on 3,000 airplanes. It just can't be hidden.

Ian Coristine
Canadian Challenger Dealer