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Seduced by the DA62 & Rusty PPL to MEP/IR - in eighteen months

Meet Nigel Cleave, a proud #DiamondAircraftFamily member, and learn how he got seduced by the wonderful DA62 and how this has led him to go back in the air again after thirty years.

About Nigel Cleave
I commenced my career as a navigating cadet officer with Cunard, providing an excellent foundation for a business career in an industry that is based on resolving daily challenges, by taking a practical and common sense approach. During my first trip to sea I was very fortunate to circumnavigate the world and, after having come ashore, I flew my first solo in 1983, also obtaining my CAA PPL(A) during that year.
With over 40 years in the maritime industry, holding group CEO positions within the global ship owning, ship management and maritime training sectors, this simply left no time to fly. However, this all changed in 2018 when I flew MJ267, a two-seater Spitfire, culminating in passing my instrument rating in a Diamond DA62 in November 2019.

Nigel, your background is in the maritime industry. Which things do the maritime and aviation industry have in common?
Having been a navigator at sea which, prior to the development of the more sophisticated Omega and GPS navigation systems, involved fixing your position through sun and star sights using a sextant, the principles of both industries have a great deal in common. In fact, as just one example, the collision avoidance rules are based on similar rules adopted by vessels at sea.

How and when did you fall in love with aviation?
I always had a passion for aviation but upon leaving school there were very few career openings in this sector. Once I came ashore, however, I started flying immediately and absolutely loved it. In 1983, I flew my first solo, but for the next thirty years, I was completely engrossed in a very demanding career, leaving no time at all for any other activities, including flying.

After such a long time, what made you go back in the air again? Is there anything you would recommend to pilots that have let their currency slip?
In 2018 my sister purchased a ‘Flight in a Spitfire’ gift card for my sixtieth birthday. The Spitfire flight was obviously the catalyst to get back in the air. I recently wrote an article for Pilot magazine (UK aviation magazine), encouraging all those “rusty” pilots out there who, for whatever reason, have let their currency slip and/or remain apprehensive at the thought of getting back into the air after what might be a lengthy period, to resume flying irrespective of how long ago it has been or what aircraft and level they intend to fly.


What prompted you to choose a Diamond aircraft and especially the DA62?
I spent a considerable amount of time researching the multi-engine aircraft market and, in my opinion, there is simply no contender that comes anywhere near Diamond and the DA62. Safety was the absolute number one priority, with this aircraft ticking all the right boxes in so many respects. Additionally, the design, airframe, propulsion and avionics, including 7 seats, 2,300 kg MTOM, Jet-A1 fuel, single lever power settings, protected fuel tanks and TKS, to name just a few, all contribute in making this a really state-of-the-art and very special aircraft for me.
Mention must also be made regarding the pre-purchase experience and knowledge imparted from Diamond Aircraft’s Florian Bauer and Martin Scherrer, all of which was invaluable. The MEP and DA62 systems training at Wiener Neustadt was also magnificent. 

After 165 flight hours on your DA62, what do you like the most about her?
The DA62 is very responsive, comfortable and a remarkable aircraft to fly. Each time I land and step out of the cockpit, I am simply amazed at just how perfectly well designed the DA62 is. The avionics are superb and really assist when flying in low IFR conditions.

How do your passengers like the aircraft?
Two comments always made by passengers is in the comfort and feeling of safety whilst in the aircraft, as well as the excellent view and airy feeling from the very large windows.

What was your most impressive flight on the DA62?
Perhaps my cross-country IFR exercise, which took me from Long Beach (KLGB) to Hayward Executive (KHWD) near San Francisco, to Monterey Regional (KMRY) and back to Long Beach, being 740 nm in all, consuming exactly 265 liters of Jet-A1, yet still leaving 57 liters in reserve. The return leg was at night, providing a lasting impression from the dazzling lights below when flying over Los Angeles.

Where will you fly when this (coronavirus) situation is over?
The intention is to fly IFR to Oxford, Cyprus and Iceland in the DA62.

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