Sunday, February 25, 2007

Flight test study

I had my second review flight booked for this morning, but it was too windy to fly.

After my last flight Dave Emailed me quite a bit of study material and some exams to complete prior to my actual flight test. It seems that the examiner conducts a Q and A session prior to our flight test to ensure that I actually know all the stuff that I'm suppose to know before I fly. Alot of this material must be committed to memory. All of these emergency procedures and checklists are also kept in Fern within easy reach.

I've spent the last week reviewing this stuff and answering the exams, I should have it all burnt into my brain by the time flight test day arrives. After my next review flight Dave is going to give me a mock flight test, this will identify any areas where I need more work.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Flight Test Review #1

Today was my first flight test review flight.

In today's "lesson" we reviewed alot of old stuff in order to prepare me for my upcoming flight test. Depending on how I do, I'll have two of these review flights then a mock flight test with Dave to determine if I'm ready to be let loose with an examiner.

I preflighted Fern and then fired her up, since she was cold I waited a few extra minutes before performing my engine run-up to ensure that the engine/oil was warm. I noticed during my exterior preflight that the school had installed a couple of baffles on either side of the spinner openings. Obviously they were designed to reduce the airflow to the engine, so the engine runs warmer and the people inside are at less risk of freezing. Dave was inside with another student but appeared on cue and then we were off.

We started off with some straight and level, which went fine. Then some slow flight at 70 mph, I reduced the power too much and we started to descend, I adjusted the power and brought her back up, then fine tuned it from there. Once I had her 'levelled out" we did some slow flight turns. Simple.

In this configuration Dave had me do power on stall which went well, we did have a little wing drop but I brought it promptly back up with the rudder. I have to remember to do a full power climb during the recovery phase. Next it was a power off stall, the stall warning was screaming but the nose never did drop, we we're bleeding altitude pretty bad by the time I added full power. Dave mentioned that I have to remember to keep a close eye on the altimeter and recover once we start loosing altitude.

Next we did some turns both left and right at 30 degrees of bank, then some steep turns at 45 degrees of bank. This went well, I didn't wander too far from my starting altitude and stayed within flight test standards of 100 ft.

Dave then asked for control and without any warning at all put us into a vary steep left spiral dive and simply said you have control. I levelled the wings and pulled the power back to idle all at the same time, then I pulled us out of the dive at 165 mph. Dave commented that I should be a little quicker levelling the wings and not to forget to use the rudder as well. I should finish my recovery with steeper climb.

Next Dave without warning pulled the power back to idle and said, "wooops an engine failure, what are you going to do now"? I did my pax brief while I trimmed for best glide (75 mph). Then I did a simulated mayday call while I looked around for a good landing area. I ran through the cause check list that I have committed to memory and then attempted restart. (I forgot the obvious - carb heat.... damn). Then I came in on final way too high, Dave asked me what I thought and I replied that I was way too high, he then asked me if I'd make it and I said yep, but I'd touchdown just past the halfway mark with just enough room to stop, (it was a long field). He then called for a overshoot which meant a full power climb, which I didn't do. I have to remember to conclude many of these exercises with full power climbs and not the simple cruise type climbs at less then full power that I have been doing.

I then did about 20 minutes of instrument flying, which I found surprisingly easy. Dave then asked me to look outside and tell him where we were, which I did. Next he asked me how I would fly us back to the airport, I replied that I'd simply hang a left, which was not the answer that he was looking for. I then said that I'd follow the highway (which is what I did), or make a bearing to the airport using my map. As I entered the downwind Dave said that an aircraft just took off from the active but lost something, the airport does not have anyone to come out and inspect the runway and you have to land soon so what are you going to do now? I told him that I'd do an inspection pass beside the runway first and if it lloked safe I'd do another circuit then land.

On final I called tower and told then that we were going to do a overshoot. I flew beside the runway about 200 ft AGL at 80 mph, Dave said that I should have everything trimmed for level flight early so I can spend my time looking out the window at the runway and less time worrying about flying the aircraft. By the end of the runway I was down to about 100 AGL and Dave called me on it. I must be more watchful of my height. I really like this low flying stuff... maybe I should have been a crop duster.

Next I flubbed a soft field landing by dialling in only twenty degrees of flaps, Dave called me on it after it was too late to do anything about it, so I did a "firm" regular landing. We then switched runways and Dave asked me for a short field landing this time. I dropped full flaps and trimmed for 70 mph. Dave asked how short I could make it to which I replied "pretty short". He said alright then, lets see if you can put her down at the beginning of the thousand foot makers and have her stopped by the fifteen hundred foot markers. I replied, "you got it". I can just imagine Dave thinking to himself, "damn cocky students...".

My final was OK but I was a little low, so I fed in some throttle to keep us 30 ft above the runway for an extra few seconds, then I pulled power back to idle and we touched at 60 mph on the exact spot I had hoped for. (A little skill on my part and a whole lotta luck me thinks). I got on the brakes hard and kept the yoke all the way back for maximum drag, and to keep as much weight on the main wheels as possible. We stopped just short of the fifteen hundred foot runway markers! Dave commented that my landing was excellent but that I was a little too aggressive with the brakes.

We taxied back and called it a day, it was a good flight with plenty of useful review.

My next review flight will hopefully be this upcoming weekend.

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