Steep Climbs, Rudder Use and Gliding

I’m a little late in posting, but here goes. On Saturday September 10th (09/10/2011), I had my second flight lesson. Soon after I arrived, I noticed that Mr. Wallace was finishing off with a woman student pilot. When he was finished, we greeted one another and he gave me my ground lesson as to what we’d be doing today. I had read the first 3 chapters of the “Cleared For Takeoff” book so I was pretty familiar with what he was saying. Today we covered Steep Climbs, Rudder Use and Gliding.

From now on I won’t be explaining or writing about all the check-ups as this is done every time one flies (it’s a MUST) i.e. the Walk-Around, the Preflight Check (i.e. in the Cockpit), Before Start Check, Starting Procedures, Before Taxi Check, Run-Up Check, Before Takeoff Check, Departure, Approach (Descent Check, Before Landing Check) and Arrival (i.e. After Landing Check and Shutdown Check). All these are done before, during, as the flight is coming to an end, and after one has landed. Each step consists of further sub-steps e.g.

Before Start Check:

  • Passenger Briefing  – Make sure this is complete
  • Seats & Seat Belts – Ensure that these are secure
  • Parking Break – Set the parking brake
  • Flaps – Retract the flaps
  • Circuit Breakers – Check all the circuit breakers are IN
  • Electrical Equipment – Check electrical equipment is OFF

Perhaps you can now get an idea as to how much is involved if I explained everything every time. One difference this time was that my instructor just followed me arround to see if I performed all the checks correctly. Mr. Wallace told me that he would just walk around with me, and if he found that I missed something, or didn’t perform the check properly or if I had any questions, he was there to help. So once the Walkaround and Preflight checks were completed, I taxied the plane to the runway as Mr. Wallace called into the tower for request to take off. Although this was only my second lesson, I noticed that I was much better in using the pedals in taxiing the plane along the road to the runway and then later at a higher speed of 55 mph prior to take off.

As I gently pulled the yoke back we gradually became airborne but my instructor told me to level off a little as the nose of the plane was pointing a little too far upwards. So I gently pushed the yoke forward and the nose came down a little. The aim is to climb at a steady rate whilst keeping the nose in line with the horizon or just a fraction above it. “Once we’re at about 3000 feet, you can level off and maintain this speed and direction”, said Mr. Wallace. As we traveled out of Crystal I struggled to keep my eyes off the control panel and to fly simply by using my vision. All the DVD’s that I had studied so far, the book and my instructor have been telling me to keep my eyes outside of the plane away from the control panel. “Look at the panel to confirm things but don’t use it to fly. Otherwise you’ll find that you’re trying to manipulate the plane more and that makes it difficult to control it.” Said my instructor, and of course he was correct. I knew what I was supposed to do but I wasn’t doing it, or rather finding it hard to do it. By this time we were out of Crystal airport and over some lakes, fields and  homes and it was time to practice some maneuvers. My instructor took control of the plane and showed me what a steep turn was like and how we were to manage it and come out of it. Then I was to do it, but I was a little reluctant to turn the yoke and to use the rudder as I thought I might go too far with my turn, but my instructor continued to say, “A little more, turn it a bit more, that’s it….”. It felt great! It felt even better coming out of the sharp turn though! We did a few more until I got the hang of the steep turns. I found out how the rudder played an important part in the turn. Then, we did some gliding. We had briefly touched on this in the last lesson but we were going to do it again. What would happen when the propeller is turned off? What would we do? How would we manage the plane? What happens when once power goes out is, is that the plane rapidly begins to descend and we have to keep the nose up by pulling the yoke back and try to maintain the speed at about 75 mph or so, and try to find a field to land in, or some open space. We didn’t actually do so, because this was how to gradually take the plane into the landing phase. Learing how to land the plane comes a little later, so this lesson was about trying to control the plane at a slower speed. However, this was demonstrated to me, and my instructor said I would do this in my next lesson and we headed back to the airport as time was up.

As we went back into the airport building having disembarked, I asked the instructor how I was doing. I knew that it was perhaps too soon to ask as this was only my second lesson but I felt that I wasn’t progressing rapidly enough. It’s not like driving a manual transmission car where you can practice with your instructor and then go home practice with your friend who is a qualified driver. My instructor told me that I was progressing like anyone else, and it depends on the individual. “That lady student you saw when you came in, she’s had about 20 lessons and we still haven’t done some things that we should have done by now. So it varies. Don’t try to think about how fast you’re going to get your license, just concentrate on learning and doing things”. I thought that was good advice and I left thanking him and feeling a little reassured. “We’ll see you tomorrow!” Said Mr. Wallace.

Piper Warrior


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