Turns Around a Point and S-Turns Revisited

Since Lesson 5, today, October 8th 2011, was finally a breezy enough day for me to practice Turns Around a Point and S-Turns. We didn’t have enough time to practice the Rectangular Course. Yes, this IS lesson 8 and you’re not seeing double. I cancelled last week’s lesson due to computer problems.

I arrived earlier than usual today (actually 20 minutes earlier) for my 8.00 am class as Tim had told me the last time, that if I arrived earlier and finished the Walkaround before 8.00am, we would have more time to fly. As I was going through the check list I mentioned to Tim that I had memorized the Phonetic Alphabet and I don’t know if he took that as cue to start me off on communicating with the Air Traffic Control Tower, or if he had decided that it was time for me to start communicating anyway, but today was the day that I communicated with the Tower for the first time. I was a little anxious about when Tim might start me off with these communications as I had read my text-book and seen the DVD’s where it’s mentioned that many students are very nervous when they first start to communicate, or just don’t like doing so. Up until now it was Tim who was requesting permission to taxi, or requesting clearance for takeoff or to land. Realising this, Tim made it easy for his students. He had created a cheat sheet. On this sheet entitled “Crystal Airport Radio Information Guide”, he had a list of what to listen to as far as the weather was concerned on ATIS i.e. Automatic Terminal Information Service, what to say to Tower when departing under the sub-heading “Radio Call Guide” and what to say at the time of wanting to take off. So the first thing we did was to listen to ATIS for the weather and this is what I filled in to the blank sheet Tim had provided:


ATIS Code:   DELTA (Tim said this code changed every 55 minutes as the weather is recorded at these intervals).

  • Wind:              190 11 019 (This was said as, “one niner zero one one zero one niner”) 
  • Visibility:         10 (one zero)
  • Clouds:           7000 SCT
  • Temp:             22 (two two)
  • Due Point:      11 (one one)
  • Altimeter:       3001 (three zero zero one)
  • Runway:        14R (one four right) 14L (one four left)

Now, I don’t know what all these figures mean just yet. I do know that the there are two runways that are marked as 14R and 14L. The Altimeter reading is set to 3001.

Next it was time to call in to request for departure from Ground Control, and this is how it is to be requested:

Radio Call Guide:

  • Who are you calling?      Crystal Ground
  • Who are you?                 Warrior 536PU (Warrior Five Three Six Papa Uniform) This is the name and number of the plane I’m in.
  • Where are you?              Thunderbird (I’m at Thunderbird Crystal Airport)
  • What do you want?        Taxi to active for NW departure (I want to taxi to the run way so I can fly in the NW direction)
  • What is the ATIS code?   DELTA

So basically this is what was to be said, in the order shown above and this is how I said it:

“Crystal Ground, Warrior Five Three Six Papa Uniform, Thunderbird, Taxi to active for North West departure, Delta”.

You don’t say, “Hello”, or “Hey what’s up guys” or “Thanks” at the beginning or the end.

This is the reply received from Ground:

“Taxi to One Four Right via Alpha and Echo, Cross Six Right and Six Left, Warrior Five Three Six Papa Uniform”.

You REPEAT this exact information back to Ground to show that YOU have understood their directions.

Then you taxi to the runway and wait before takingoff and once again you must request permission, but this time you’re asking permission from Tower Control.

Radio Call Guide:

  • Who are you calling?  Crystal Tower
  • Who are you?             Warrior 536PU      (Warrior Five Three Six Papa Uniform)
  • Where are you?          At 14R                   (One Four Right)
  • What do you want?    Ready for takeoff  (i.e. Clearance for takeoff)

And here’s how you would put that together: “Crystal Tower, Warrior Five Three Six Papa Uniform at One Four Right, Ready for takeoff”.

And the reply from Tower:

“Cleared for Takeoff on One Four Right Warrior Five Three Six Papa Uniform”.

Then you take off.

Today I really didn’t do anything new (other than the above), only that I practiced some maneuvers in a different environment i.e. a windier environment. Turns Around a Point, S-Turns and the Rectangular Course are best practiced in the wind as these maneuvers are all about managing the plane in the wind. Tim had brought his GPS device which he fixed on the co-pilots’ yoke. This GPS device is unlike the usual GPS devices I’m used to, i.e. those found in automobiles. This one could track your path by showing a trail on the screen so you knew exactly how you were flying. So I found a cross-road as my reference point in order to do the Turns Around a Point. I made sure the wind was behind me as I entered the circle and whilst keeping the wind in mind I managed the plane through steep and shallow turns. My first attempt wasn’t too bad said Tim, it was slightly oval and the reference point was not in the center of the oval. Tim proceeded to explain why this was so and he said, “Do another one, but keep in mind not to level the plane. You should be in some kind of turn throughout you’re making the circle, even it’s a one degree bank”. So this time I made sure that I did not level off the plane and after I was finished we checked the GPS and found that it was almost a perfect circle. After a few more of these, we decided to do the S-Turns.

To do S-Turns one needs to find a straight road and then again with the wind behind you, you cross the road at a given point and then turn the plane to cross the same road again, so you form a semi-circle, but you continue the other way and form a semi-circle on the other side of the road so by the time you’re finished, although you’ve formed two opposing semi-circles on each side of the road, when seen from above it the path looks like an S shape. Put a vertical line through the S (representing the road) and I think you’ll know what I mean by forming the opposing semi-circles and the path to be taken (represented the S). Again you have to pay attention to the direction of the wind and manage the plane accordingly. Then Tim said, “If you come out of the semi-circle at a steep angle, you enter the next semi-circle in a steep angle, if you come out of a semi-circle at a shallow angle you enter the next semi-circle at a shallow angle”. I tried a few of these and it was really fun.

Then it was time to go home, but before we headed that way, Tim took the controls and asked, “Do you plan on becoming a Commercial Pilot or making this into a career?”, I replied in the affirmative and Tim said, “Well I was asking because I want to show you a fun maneuver that you will do when you take the Commercial Pilot’s course. The maneuver is called Lazy Eights”. Then he proceeded to take the plane straight up at high speed and then drop down, a little bit like when you’re on a roller coaster. The figure eight is made in a lazy way in the air. It was very exhilarating to say the least! He then put a pen on the dashboard and did the maneuver again, and I kid you not, the pen sort of floated in the air and it floated as if in slow motion. It seemed like the weightless objects that float in space. It was all very quick but very clearly evident. At the same time you could feel the G force as the plane went up and the stomach felt very light when we went down suddenly. “I like to show students some of these maneuvers to show them how fun flying really is, and that it’s not all about books and the same old maneuvers all the time”, said Tim.

There’s no class tomorrow as Tim’s daughter will be 2 years old, and he’s taking the day off to celebrate her birthday.


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