Saturday, November 19, 2005

Lesson #3 Climbs and Descents

Another great lesson today, are they all like this?

This was my first flight with my new instructor, his name's Dave. He's a class one instructor with more than 2500 hours, he seems pretty laid back, which I like. Today's lesson was climbs and descents, we also did some engine out / best glide work and practised some balked approaches, finally the lesson ended with me doing my first landing!

We started with a preflight brief to go over what we'd be covering during the lesson. It took a little longer than usual as there was much more material to cover, plus we chatted about some other things as well. We then headed out to the hanger to preflight the aircraft, she needed some oil, then we pushed her outside to finish the preflight inspection. It was chilly and FFRN was bit reluctant to start.

I handled the calls to the tower, and wrote down the airport advisory, I then taxied us out to runway 28 (which takes about five minutes) and performed my second takeoff. I found this takeoff mush less stressful than the first, however the sun was in my eyes which made it hard to see the the airspeed indicator. We flew west northwest of the airport to our practise area, and spent the next 45 minutes practising different types of climbs, descents, simulated engine-out glides and then some balked approaches.

The first climb we did was for best rate (Vy), which is achieved at 83mph at full throttle. The first thing we did was scan for traffic, next we checked the gauges to make sure everything looked good, then I brought the nose up to the angle I wanted, which reduced our speed, then I applied full power, adjusting our angle of climb to maintain 83 mph, then I adjusted the trim to eliminate the pressure on the yoke. Every thirty seconds or so I'd drop the nose a bit to do a quick forward scan and then point her skyward again bringing her back down to 83 mph.

The second climb is for best angle (Vx), which is even slower at 69 mph than a Vy climb. A Vx climb starts by scanning for traffic, checking the gauges, then pointing her skywards at a even steeper angle than before, then apply full power while adjusting your nose up attitude to bring your speed back to 69 mph. Again I'd lower the nose every 30 seconds or so to make a scan out front for traffic and then and point her skywards again. Vx climbs shouldn't be maintained for long periods of time as the airflow is reduced to the engine and overheating is a concern.

Next we practised some en route climbs which are done at a faster speeds and lower climb rates. These types of climbs are more comfortable for your passengers and allow you to maintain good forward visibility.

Next we did some simulated engine out / best glide speed practise, best glide is achieved at 75 mph.

We then moved on to descents, both power off and power on. We trimmed the aircraft for level flight at an indicated 110 mph @ 3,000 feet, (If memory serves me right I think that this was 2500 rpm - which is a fast cruise). Dave then had me pull the throttle nearly to idle, hands off the yoke. We immediately started to descend while maintaining 110mph. At low power settings and high descent rates one must remember to apply engine power for about ten seconds or so, every 500 feet, to prevent shock cooling the engine.

I then did some power on descents, these types of descents are done with reduced engine power, so shock cooling wasn't a concern as the engine was still turning 1,700 rpm.

Next we practised some balked approached. Basically I set us up for a landing (at 2,000 feet though), 75 mph with 20 degrees of flaps. Dave then had me apply full power and then bring the flaps back up. The plane would immediately start to climb. After a couple of these we decided to head back to the airport.

We were about 10 miles out and I had planned to enter the normal left hand circuit for runway 28, which involved crossing at midfield. I made my call and the tower came back and gave us the option of a straight in approach for runway 21, which would save us a few minutes of taxiing. Some fancy flying on my part to correct our approach for the new runway, got it lined up, lowered the flaps 20 degrees, reduced the engine to 1,700 rpm, and brought IAS to 75. This put us in a nice gentle glide to the runway.

I found myself crabbing just a bit to the right due to a 6 knot crosswind coming from my 90, but I didn't have any problem lining us up with the centerline. Everything went well and I did all of the flying with Dave adding just a bit of input to assist with the "flare" at the end. It was by no means a greaser landing, but I've experienced worse as a passenger on some commercial flights, so I was pretty darn pleased with myself, to say the least.

A quick recap of my third flight lesson:

- I did nearly all the radio calls today and didn't mess anything up, one minor error.
- I did my second takeoff.
- I'm getting more comfortable and more confident flying the plane.
- I did my first landing.

Another great lesson, can't wait till next weekend!


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