Flying Katana

Flying Katana

Visibility: good
Temperature: 16°C
QNH: 1008hPa
Location: Drewitz
Equipment: DA20 Katana

As part of my training, I have to fly two different kinds of aircraft. My flight school has a deal with a flight school in Drewitz. They train on a DA20 Katana, an Austrian built light trainer.

Today is a great flying day. In the morning I had the second part of my theory test. In the afternoon I go flying.

The plan for the day is to take the trusted Cessna over to Drewitz. There we will fly the Katana for about an hour before we go back to Strausberg. The weather conditions are easy and we will not file a flight plan for the half hour trip over to Drewitz. But we plan the flight on the map and talk about the Fürstenwalde VOR which is about half way on our route and will be our guide.

Cottbus-Drewitz Airport (EDCD)

Like many airports in the region, Drewitz is a relic of the cold war. The runway is the right size for an airliner and the hangars are reinforced concrete, overgrown with grass. On approach I’m having a hard time. The runway is so much wider than the one in Strausberg that it is hard to estimate the altitude correctly. There is a new, beautiful terminal building that my flight instructor is making fun of. There are no commercial flights in or out of Drewitz.

The Katana D-ELPN (“Papa November”) is waiting for us already. We park the Cessna next to it on the apron and change planes.

DA 20 Katana

The DA20 is a very popular trainer. It is about the same size as the Cessna but that about sums up their similarities. The Katana is a low wing composite aircraft. That means the fuselage is mounted on top of the wings. It is made primarily from composite materials, not from sheet metal.

The aircraft is powered by a Rotax engine, much like the ones powering many Ultra Lights. It is very efficient and quiet. Last but not least, this Katana has a constant speed prop. The pitch of the prop is adjustable. This allows the engine to run at it’s most efficient RPMs. The constant speed prop is new to me and the settings are a challenge.

Up, up and away

We go through the check list and the flight instructor takes his time to explain “Papa November” to me. We start the engine and go. The Katana has a free moving front wheel. The steering works by breaking the main wheels individually. It takes me a long time to get used to that and I’m sure the controller on the tower has fun watching us meander down the taxi way.

We take off and the air flow through the small windows is cooling us down. We were starting to steam under the large glass canopy. Once airborne, I feel at home in the DA20 instantly. She reminds me of the Ultra Light aircraft I fly but is a bit more stable. The visibility, without the wings above us, is stunning.


We climb above the pattern altitude to do some air work. While we are doing our “lazy eights”, we hear a formation of military C-160 Transall transporters announce their intention to perform some short landing maneuvers in Drewitz. They are very close to the ground and we decide to stay out of their way and watch the spectacle from above. They are coming in low and slow, touch down on the outmost edge of the concrete of the runway and break violently. Watching the large turboprops from up here is a treat!

After the two big guys are gone, we have the pattern to ourselves again. We do two or three touch-and-go’s before we call it a day. The Katana was clearly a great experience but I am also happy to be back in “Lima X-Ray” for the way home. The trusted Cessna and I have become friends.

To be continued…


(originally posted on May 11, 2012 by tilbo at

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