The day was a dappled gray when I arrived at Long Beach Airport in California for my chance to fly the brand-new Diamond DA40 XLS. Rain had been forecast for the afternoon, but the thin overcast had given way to broken clouds with a deep blue sky peering from behind them. Morning rain had washed the air clean, and the light winds made it a perfect day to fly.
So much has been written about Diamond and the DA40 that I wanted to do something different. Instead of merely putting the airplane through a repertoire of aerial tasks, I decided to fly the XLS like an everyday pilot and take the futuristic-looking craft on a little cross-country. My partner would be Robert Stewart, territory manager and demo pilot for USAERO (www.usaero.aero), an authorized Diamond distributor for the Southwestern United States.