Monthly Archives: September 2008

Flight School Day 33

Today was more practice for the check ride.

We started by practicing a soft-field takeoff where you get the airplane off the ground as early as possible and fly in ground effect until you pick up speed and begin climbing.  We flew the pattern a few times and practiced short field landings where the idea is to get the airplane on the ground as close to after a specified point as possible.  I still come in a little low on final approach, but it was much better today than it has been.

We then practiced flying “under the hood” with only reference to the instruments–this went well and we practiced unusual attitude recoveries as well.

We then performed some power on stalls where you get the airplane at around takeoff speed, apply full throttle, and pull up to simulate a stall on takeoff.  On one of the stall attempts, Aaron cut the throttle and I recovered by immediately pitching the nose down.  He was trying to see if I’d pull back, worsening the situation.

Then we climbed to 4,500 feet and practiced spins.  The first time he had me spin once and recover after two rotations on the same heading.  I came out just about exactly on the right heading.  So we climbed and he told me to count the revolutions until I got to three and then begin recovery.  Around three revolutions the spin stabilizes and it ended up taking about another revolution after I started recovery before the spin stopped.

When we got to the airport we did some more short-field landings and everything turned out really good.

Flight School Day 32

Today was another review for the check ride.  Aaron had me plan a cross-country flight to a local airport and when we got to the second checkpoint he asked me to divert to a different airport to see if I could find it.  The airport was a grass strip that I-65 bends around north of Huntsville at Ardmore.  He said I’m the first person he’s known to find it.

We did a short field landing on the runway which had a nice path down the middle that had been worn in and 2-3 foot grass/weeds on the sides.  So when we took off we practiced a soft field takeoff where you lift the airplane off the ground early and float in ground effect until it’s really going, then you climb out.

I was surprised how close we were to the Saturn V rocket–so close that I was afraid we might be in Huntsville’s airspace, but we were actually quite a way out.

On our way back to Madison County Airport I flew with the view-limiters on so I had to fly only by reference to the instruments.  Aaron put the plane in some unusual attitudes which I was able to recover from successfully.

We practiced short-field landings when we got to the airport.  I had been coming in too low last time–in order to land precisely on a point, you have to aim before the point and float in ground effect until the airplane stalls and touches down where you want.  This means you end up aiming a bit before the actual runway if you want to land right on the numbers.  So in the process, I was probably aiming a bit too far out and coming in low and having to add power to make it to the touchdown point.  This time I was better, but still had to add power a couple times.  Instead of needing to add power at the end I should be needing to slip slightly at the end to lose altitude.

Flight School Day 31

I passed my written test with a 93% on Saturday and so now we are preparing exclusively for the test.

I told Aaron we still haven’t practiced any turning stalls, so that was the first thing we tried.  I was really concerned about getting in a spin from a banked stall but conveniently enough the high wing is the one that falls and it seems to automatically help level the wings.  So there was really no big problem with banked stalls.

Then he showed me accelerated stalls.  The idea is that airplanes stall at a particular angle of attack not a particular speed.  In straight and level flight the speed is fixed, but if you are experiencing more G’s the airplane will be at a higher angle of attack for your speed and stall at a higher speed.  So he had me turn really sharp–close to 90 degrees of bank–while attempting to keep the nose above the horizon.  This led to a higher than usual stall speed but the recovery was still about the same.

Next he decided to teach me how to perform and recover from spins.  This won’t be on the test, but it’s a good thing to know how to do.  Basically we turned off the throttle and pulled back until the airplane started to stall when we completely pushed in one rudder peddle, this causes the plane to roll all the way over on that side and enter a spin.  When we decide to recover we relax the stick and apply opposite rudder to stop the spin and pull up to the horizon.  We did this about 3 times–that many times in such a short period of time is quite dizzying.  We did it with the gyro turned off and when we were done it was rolling uncontrollably about 3-4 times per second which I’m pretty sure is faster than any roll we performed.
Here’s a video of someone else performing the same maneuver in a similar plane:

We finished with short field landing practices.  The landings were all very smooth, but I was consistently quite low on the final approach, so we will probably spend some more time practicing this for the test.