Climbing & Descending Turns

In which I make a very silly mistake and learn how to turn while climbing and descending.


Today’s mission was Climbing & Descending turns.

Climbing & descending turns involve the same three elements as medium level turns:

  • Bank
  • Balance
  • Backpressure

The angle of bank for these turns is less than for medium level turns – only 15 degrees. This is because if you bank the plane too far during a climb, the plane will turn but no longer climb.

It was a shorter briefing today becaus the main basics had been covered previously with medium level turns and climbing & descending. So, I was sent out to do the preflight. I am slowly getting the hang of checking everything, althought it still seems to take less time than it should. I did, however, make a breakthrough today – I discovered that it is possible to adjust the position of the rudder pedals. One of the main problems I’ve been having is reaching the rudder pedals and moving them closer made a huge difference!

J came out, we climbed in and I did the startup. It took a few times to get the engine to start, I think the throttle might have not been fully closed, because it started after J adjusted something. I put on my headset and was a bit confused to find no sound! I looked around to find J plugging it in (oops) and gave him a rather sheepish grin :P.

I taxiied to plane to the runway (also easier with the moved pedals), went through the last checks and J did the takeoff.

It was rather windy today which posed more challenges. There were a few big bumps at the start of the lesson but luckily it was smooth enough to continue the lesson. It certainly was more challenging to keep the aircraft on a constant heading – it kept wanting to roll and turn. I managed to fight it and keep it going where I wanted though.

First J explained the basics of climbing (which I wanted a recap on). To climb, the power is set at full and the attitude is the horizon just below the bottom of the windscreen.

He then demonstrated a climbing turn, a descent and a descending turn. To descend, power is set at 2000rpm and the attitude is the horizon about halfway up the windscreen. Before I took over, he demonstrated what would happen during a climbing turn if the plane was allowed to bank at 30 degrees or over. It was interesting to see how the rate of climb slowed and then eventually the plane stopped climbing at all.

Then it was my turn. First I had to put the plane into a climb, and then do a climbing turn. It was a bit difficult to calculate the angle of bank (15 degrees) and at times I think I was banking too far. The bouncing of the plane from the wind made it harder to maintain the angle. I think I was also letting the nose drop a little too far too.

After that I had to put the plane into a descent, and then do a descending turn. These were easier as you don’t need to apply backpressure, as the nose is meant to remain low (since it is descending). I also found it hard to calculate the angle here, although I was getting more used to what it should be.

We did more turns in both directions (a mix of climbing, descending and medium level) before it was time to head back. J took over control earlier than usual, probably because of the wind which made the landing more difficult. Interestingly, he landed without using flaps, I meant to ask why and totally forgot (sigh).

I haven’t booked my next mission yet becuase the booking sheets had disappeared, but hopefully it’ll be 8:30am next Wednesday. I ordered the theory books earlier this week and they arrived yesterday. They look interested but I also feel like there’s just so much to learn, it’s rather daunting. Excitingly, I now have a logbook!


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