In which I prove that I can do stalls, steep turns and forced landings without getting myself into trouble and that I can find my way back to the airfield from the training area without getting lost. Oh, and some women in swimsuits have their photo taken next to one of the Pipers (much to the delight of the instructors)
After both booked missions last weekend being cancelled because of weather (oh yay, winter is coming), today I was at Lilydale for (hopefully) the last flight before my first area solo. The plan for today was to head out to the training area to go through stalls, steep turns and forced landings and basically for me to prove that I can do them without needing J’s help. I also had to prove I could find my way back to the airport without help too…
When I arrived there were lots of people there, I just assumed it was because of the nice weather (and partly it was). But later on I found out the other reason (stay tuned!)
So, I preflighted 5231, taxiied us to 36, did the takeoff and we moseyed out to the training area. I also got around to doing a proper departing circuit radio call too, for the first time.
Departing upwind, runway 36, for the training area
passing 1000′, climbing 3000′
So, we headed out to the northern part of the training area where I was told to get us to a suitable height and location to do stalls. I took it up to 4000ft and to a (fairly) unpopulated area. I then went through the pre-stall checklist – HASELL – height, airframe, security, engine, location, lookout.
The first stall I had to do with a clean power off stall – easy! Carby heat on, power off, raise the nose, wait for it to do a girly Jab stall, recover. We did a few of those and they were fine.
The next stall I had to do was a stall in the approach configuration – power at 2000rpm and half flap. I rather messed up the first one of those, forgot to do a clearing turn beforehand (oops), forgot to turn the carby heat on…basically made a slight mess of it. J also mentioned that I should wait slightly longer before beginning the recovery. The next time I tried that, holding the backpressure for a bit longer than I had been, and we ended up getting a wing drop (whee!). I recovered but didn’t put full power on soon enough, for some reason a few times I was just putting it up to cruise power rather than full power, not sure why. J also commented that I tried to level the wings before properly unstalling the wings – you need to put the stick forward first to unstall the wings, then you’re free to level the wings with aileron. If you go to level the wings first, then the wing will just stall further. He also said that some instructors teach that you can pick up a wing with rudder, which is a bad idea. Basically, if you do this you’re putting the controls into a pro-spin configuration – to spin an aircraft you have to induce yaw at the point of stall. He made me promise never to do that, because sooner or later you’re going to kill yourself. So, with a wing drop, unstall the wings first, then roll level with aileron. (I can see people leaving comments about this paragraph somehow…do remember that this has been recycled from my mind)
After a few more stalls, it was time to have a crack at steep turns. During the first one I, once again, demonstrated my apparent inability to calculate bank angles – it ended up being at around 35-40 degrees, rather than the 45 degrees or so we were looking for. The next try was more successful, getting that 2G steep turn feeling (good fun). One thing I need to remember with steep turns is to add a bit extra power as we roll through 30 degrees, I added some but generally not quite enough.
Then, J decided to fail the engine for a forced landing. I picked a field fairly quickly (yay!) and started the descent. I ran through the first set of checks (pretending that they failed of course) but forgot to do the check for smoke (oops). Then did the FMOST checks (fuel, mixture, oil, switches, throttle). Since we had a fair bit of time left, I did the simulated mayday call. We were right near Coldstream airfield so I used that as the reference point for my call.
Mayday, mayday, mayday
5231, 5231, 5231
We have an engine failure, about 3 miles north of Coldstream airfield
I probably should’ve said that we were attempting to land in a field, but it’s easy to forget stuff like that, and I guess if you’re reporting an engine failure it’s taken as given that you’re heading towards the ground. We were about 1000ft higher than we have been when we’ve done forced landings before and it was interesting to see just how much extra time that gave you. I misjudged my approach slightly and we would’ve reached the 1000ft point I’d chosen a fair bit before 1000ft so I took us away from the field then turned back and we ended up at the 1000ft at about the right height (yay!). I started the glide approach then initiated the go around. I think we would’ve made the field or, if not, the one beyond it at least. Since there are so many fields around Lilydale, I’ve started trying to choose ones that are suitable (obviously) but also have another field just beyond them in case we miss the first one – sort of as a backup plan. Clearly in some other places with less options this wouldn’t be an option, so I’m not relying on that ‘second field’, but I do think that I may as well try to utilize the available resources by also choosing a backup field.
Then it was time to head back to the airfield. Happily, I didn’t need any guidance to find my way back and we joined crosswind for 36. Another aircraft decided to take off from 36L despite us giving a radio call to point out that we were on short final for 36R but we landed uneventfully. It was a pretty smooth landing, but it was one of my accidentally good ones unfortunately. Still, my landings do seem to generally be improving.
As we taxiied back to the parking area, I discovered why there were so many people at the airfield today. There was some modelling thing going on which had women in swimsuits having their photo taken next to one of the Pipers. I commented to J that it wasn’t fair, there weren’t enough pictures of men in swimsuits next to aircraft, and he was like “that’s a GOOD thing!” 😛 The instructors were clearly having a good day though, when we got back to the school pretty much all the instructors were looking out the window (bless ’em).
We headed back to the school and I was given the pre-area solo test to do. Since I plan to move to GA at some point, I was given the GA test, so it was based on Warriors rather than Jabs. For the question about how many litres of fuel would be needed I was told that Warriors burn 30L per hour (which wasn’t the answer to the question by the way, don’t worry), but for the best glide speed of the Warrior I had to guess – and, happily, got it right! (73kts in case anyone’s wondering). I ended up getting 9/10, I got the question about how long before last light someone flying on a student licence needs to be back at the airfield (CASA rule is 10 minutes, Lilydale have their own rule of 30 minutes, I said 20 minutes). The final question was drawing a diagram of how you’d go about joining crosswind for 18…let’s just say that diagrams aren’t my strong point (luckily J was about to work out what my diagram was on about :P).
So, after today, I’m cleared to do my first area solo next mission (which, unfortunately, isn’t for two weeks since I’m going to Adelaide next weekend). One thing J said I need to work on is situational awareness (not saying I don’t have it, just need to improve it). Basically, keeping a better idea of what’s going on around me and, in particular, where other aircraft are and what they’re doing. I already knew I needed to work on this so I’m not too surprised. The next two hours are going to be solo hours in the training area, then it’s back to some dual flights to revise everything and get me ready for my test (ooooh!!). I still need to sit my BAK, Human Factors and Radio tests though, I’ve been a bit slack on that side of things. I’ll try to arrange to knock those off in the next few weeks. I know that if I don’t give myself a set deadline to learn it by, I won’t study it enough because I’ll feel guilty for studying that rather than doing the uni study I need to do. If I have a deadline, then I’ll have a goal to learn it by a certain time.
So, next mission I’m being let loose solo in the training area, watch out Yarra Valley! 😀