Sunday, January 08, 2006

Lesson #6 Slow Flight

Didn't get out flying on Saturday due to crappy weather.

Sunday I was up early to coach my son's hockey team. The sun was just coming up and I didn't have time to check the metar, I took a look outside but I'm not great at judging cloud height and it was still pretty dark, so I wasn't sure what the day would bring.

Our hockey game went well and when I walked out of the rink I was greeted by a sunny and nearly clear sky... so I called Dave as soon as I got home and booked a lesson.

I arrived at the airport about an hour later and chatted with Dave for a few minutes, did the prebrief and I went out to the hanger to preflight the aircraft. The preflight went well but they must have just changed the oil, as it was pretty clear and it was hard to tell what the level was at first, in the dimly lit hanger. After I realised that the oil was nearly clear instead of the usual black, I was able to determine the level, she was good to go.

Pushed her outside and snapped a couple of pics, hopped in and finished the preflight using the checklist, called tower and then taxied out to 28. This takeoff was much better than my last one, although I did rotate a bit early and I got a little wobble from the front wheel just before liftoff. I quickly trimmed her for a nice climb at 80 mph and made sure I kept a bit of pressure on the right rudder to keep us straight. I was much happier with this takeoff.

We flew to the northwest at 3,000 feet and started things off with a 20 degrees of bank turn. Halfway through I noticed that I had gain a few feet (less than 50) and I was able to correct early so that by the time I finished my 360 I was back at the height I started at. I then did a 30 degrees of bank turn the other way, this turn is much faster and more back pressure is needed to maintain height.

It's funny how you can get used to things, at first I found a 30 degrees of bank turn to be very steep and a bit exciting, now they just seem like a normal turn. A 20 degress of bank 360 takes forever.

Next we practised flying for endurance. I already knew from my previous lesson that flying for endurance is achieved at about 1,800 rpm, but this was a colder day and there was less fuel in the tanks so Dave had me started off at a cruise rpm, I then brought the throttle back 100 rpm at a time, trimmed to maintain altitude and repeated. VFE was achieved a couple of minutes later at slightly more than 1,700 rpm.

With this review out of the way we started on today's lesson, slow flight. The definition of slow flight is flight that is just above the stalling speed and below the speed for best endurance. We did our HASEL checks and then Dave slowed us down from normal cruise to slow flight, he went thru the characteristics (poor forward viability, sluggish controls etc.) then brought us back up to normal cruise, then he had me do the same. We practised slow flight with and without flaps. Dave then had me do some turns in slow flight to get a feel of the aircraft.

With today's lesson in the books we touched on our next lesson, stalls... by doing a couple of them. It was kinda cool to see the airspeed indicator drop below 40 mph, stall horn wailing. Doing something like this a few lessons ago would have caused a "pucker" moment for sure, now it's just new and exciting.

We headed back to the airport just as traffic was starting to pickup. A Mooney had just taken off for Moncton. I called tower to let them know we were inbound for the cz and that we'd being doing a straight in approach for 28, (the active into the wind runway). I asked them for a traffic and airport advisory, they replied that a Dash 8 was on short for 03. there was also a 737 about 15 minutes out coming in for a straight in approach for 03.

A few minutes later we were on final for 28, by this time a cherokee called tower, they were on the apron finishing their runup. A couple of months ago all this chatter would have totally confused me, but I was able to pretty much visualize where everyone was.

Dave then called tower and informed them that we were going to do a touch and go to the circuit, which was news for me. Tower asked if we were going to do some circuits, Dave replied that we'd just do the one touch and go and that we'd be doing a full stop after that.

I setup for landing, it was a bit choppy so I was kept busy on the yoke. Reduced power maintained altitude to bleed off speed, flaps to 20 degrees, trimmed for glide slope, maintain speed (65 mph), watch for correct slope etc. All this keeps me pretty busy, juggling everything at once, the choppy conditions didn't help either. It was a decent landing with Dave adding some assistance on the yoke. I find our decent during the last fifty feet steep, so I have a tendency to flare a bit early, this is wrong and I must remember to stop doing this.

We slowed to about 30 mph or so, Dave put the flaps back up and then pulled off the carb heat and I went to full power and we took off. I brought us backup to circuit height and did the circuit.

My next landing was perfect, at least from my standpoint. This time I fought the urge to flare early, brought us down with Dave talking me through it the whole way. After we touched down (gently) Dave informed me that I had done that landing by myself, he didn't provide any assistance on the yoke. I was so busy landing the plane I hadn't noticed that he wasn't helping me.

This was my first landing all by myself, without any "hands on" assistance from my instructor. I felt like a million bucks.... I'm still smiling.

I know that this is getting repetitive, but another great lesson!


At 4:50 AM, Blogger Oshawapilot said...

I remember my own first few flights when things started to go "Click", and I realized I was actually *flying* insteading of just being along for the instructor-assisted ride.

The grin was almost impossible to wipe off my face, too. :-)


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