Circuits & Glide Approaches

In which I discover that 4964 is hideous to fly, learn about glide approaches and am given an important piece of advice.


Today’s mission was (yet more) circuits and also introducing glide approaches.

I preflighted 4964, we jumped in, I taxiied us to 36 and did the takeoff. During the takeoff I noticed that it seemed to take longer than usual for us to lift off and the stall warning horn actually sounded for a moment. I was a bit confused but wondered if it was due to hot weather or something similar.

However,  I soon found out that it wasn’t because of hot weather, it was because 4964 is an absolute pain to fly. It didn’t want to climb without a LOT of encouragement and was just generally annoying. When J took over to demonstrate glide approaches he was like “wow, it’s an absolute dog to fly isn’t it” and I was like “oh yes!”.

The first few circuits for today were a mixture of flapless and flapped approaches. I think my approaches today were better, I was concentrating on being on the centreline (altho this fell apart slightly when I got to the actual runway) and I think I was just generally more in control of the approach. The landings, however, weren’t quite so hot. I’m still having issues working out how high we are…I keep thinking we’re higher/lower above the runway than we are so can’t control the touchdown properly.

After a few circuits, J pulled an EFATO on me. I was rather distracted because I was trying to get the plane to actually climb, so I didn’t react as well as I should. I started to push the nose down then, for some reason, pulled it up slightly before realising what I was doing and pushing it down again. It definitely wasn’t my best response to an EFATO.

J then took over to demonstrate a glide approach. This is when the engine is cut on downwind (well, pulled back to idle at least) and you have to try and make the field without any power. When the power is pulled (‘oh sh*t, the engine’s gone’) you immediately turn the plane towards the airfield and aim the nose at the end of the runway. It’s important to keep the nose raised during the turn so that the speed will wash off and the plane will slow to glide speed (which in the Jab is 65kts). When doing a glide approach you actually want to be quite high on the approach so you can better control the descent. The descent can be steepened using sideslip, S-turns or flaps. Generally, flaps are used as a last resort as once you lower the flap, if you end up too low, you can’t raise them again (as that will cause sink) – so it’s better to use sideslip or S-turns before using flaps.

The next time around it was my turn to try a glide approach. Happily, we made the field and I landed it on the runway, so the glide approach was a success 🙂 I did have to use one stage of flap, but didn’t need to sideslip or S-turn.

During the next circuit I wasn’t certain whether we were doing another glide approach or a normal approach so, just after we passed we’d cut the power before, I asked J. He was like “Sure, why not” and pulled the power and I was like “I shouldn’t’ve asked!” J then gave me a very important piece of advice: “Never tempt your instructor” (definitely going to remember this in future!). This time I didn’t manage to make the field, partly because we’d started the approach from further away than last time and so had further to go. Also, I didn’t hold the nose up enough during the turn which meant that the speed didn’t wash off as much and we weren’t at glide speed (65kts). Since we weren’t going to make the airfield, J asked me which field around us I would choose to land in (one of the benefits of flying out of Lilydale, lot’s of farms). I was having a few problems trying to decide because lots of the fields were bordered by trees which made it a little more difficult. It did show me, however, just how important it is to pick a field to land in just in case we won’t make the airfield itself. After picking my field, we powered up and went around.

The next few circuits were back to doing flapped/flapless approaches. As there was a bit of a headwind, we came in with more power and cut it just before the threshold of the runway. It seems that I actually land a bit better when I do that, probably because more speed has washed off before I try to touchdown. The final landing was a full stop on 36R which actually seemed to be one of my better landings of the mission.

Apparantly when coming to a stop after taxiing, I have a tendency to put the brake on before the plane has come to a complete stop. I need to work on ensuring that the plane has stopped completely before I put the brakes on (which does seem logical really!)

During the debrief, J said that as of today we’ve covered all of the pre-solo maneuvers but apparantly I’m still of a bit of a way off solo 😦 I know my landings still need some work (I keep telling myself that, after all this effort, I will be extra proud of the fact that I can do it…). Also, I need to work on developing more ‘command skills’ – making more decisions independently rather than making the decision then checking with J. I know I was doing this a bit during approach, I’d think that we were too high but rather than just correcting it I’d ask J. He said that I need to start just making corrections for what I think is wrong and he’ll tell me if I’m wrong. I have a feeling things could get rather interesting!

I also need to hold off more when landing. I think when I start the ‘flying above the runway’ part of the landing, I think that I immediately need to move onto the touchdown part. Apparantly I should be trying to convince myself that, now I’m there, I don’t really want to land at all. I think I need to try to stop worrying about when the touchdown part is going to happen and just let it happen by itself as the airspeed washes off.

Things I need to work on next mission:

  • Correcting what I think is wrong about the approach without asking for confirmation
  • PIC skills
  • Landing – still having problems with judgment of height when flying above the runway
  • Letting the plane touchdown when it wants to once the airspeed has washed off

I have a feeling that I’m not going to go solo by the end of 2009 (I have 5 hours left booked in 2009), unless things improve a lot. But, then again, I guess a lot can happen in 5 hours. I was given the study guide for the pre-solo air law test today, so I must be close enough to make that worthwhile (or I’m hoping so at least). I guess I just have to see how things go and hope that none of my missions are cancelled because of weather…


4 Responses to Circuits & Glide Approaches

  1. GraemeK says:

    Yep – 4964 is my least favorite!

    I flew it Tuesday and today, both times I needed to keep a boot full of right rudder on all the time – during my preflight today I noticed that the right pedal centering spring on the driver’s side had broken – no wonder I was having rudder problems the other day!!

    Today was very turbulent, especially mid to late downwind where we were pitching, yawing and rolling all at the same time – so lots of concentration to maintain (a semblance of!) control. Plus lots of updrafts and downdrafts and a bit of crosswind on final created a real challenge for a stabilised approach.

    But despite the landings being nothing flash, at least they were unassisted and Kerry congratulated me on my handling of the turbulence – I actually reckon my circuits were better today (laterally and vertically) than they were the other day in much better conditions – go figure!

  2. Darky says:

    Well done! And the fact that they let you go up in the turbulence also shows that you’re getting better 🙂

    And yes, I had to keep a bootful of right rudder in too, I was sitting there going ‘wtf?’ and my foot was sore for ages after! I noticed the right pedal was sitting a bit weirdly after we landed and I wondered if I’d messed it up when I moved the pedals out but I always check they’re locked into position properly after I do it so I knew it wasn’t that and I couldn’t work out what it was…drove me nuts for the entire hour, I knew I couldn’t be flying THAT out of balance!

    Really hoping I don’t get 4964 next time I fly 😛

  3. GraemeK says:

    BTW – also had trouble getting 4964 to climb, but in my case it was downdrafts leading to high sink rates – at one stage we weren’t climbing at all …..

  4. Flyingninja says:

    I know exactly what you’re going through. I’m in the same boat/plane. I’m working on maintaining my altitude on the downwind leg at 1000ft…tend to get lazy sometimes and lose height. And my short final is still mixed – sometimes a bit high, sometimes not enough. I’ve got to get my visual perspectives right. So, you’re not alone. Keep plodding on!

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