Expect Left Traffic

Flights 40 & 41 – Unusual Attitudes


I’m not talking about mouthing off to my instructor, or even anything as drastic as this Pitts Special.  I got in another .4 hours of instrument time about two weeks ago, and recovering from unusual attitudes was part of the time.  My instructor played the part of ATC, and vectored me out north and west, presumably to the practice area.  Next we did two climbing turn recoveries and one diving under the hood.  Recovery is the same as when you can see, but you have to recognize the condition on the artificial horizon after being tossed around a bit by your instructor.  I have to admit, this was the one time that I felt a little queasy since starting all this.  Once I got to open my eyes it quickly went away and I focused on the task at hand.  For a climbing bank, the goal is to increase power while lowering the nose and then leveling the wings.  In the one diving turn we did, you reduce power, level the wings and then pull up.  The idea is to slow the plane down and reduce the wing loading before attempting to pull up.  747bnk Many a plane has lost it’s wings trying to recover from this state while disoriented in the clouds.  These procedures help us prevent get back to straight and level flight so we can then spend some time troubleshooting how we got in this situation in the first place.  Usually that means not paying enough attention to what were doing in the first place.  We must never forget to fly the plane first and foremost, above all other concerns.  If I drop a pen I can always grab another, or search after the plane has been trimmed and I’ve taken a look for traffic and clouds.  After that we tracked an ADF, then intercepted the VOR back to BJC.  When we got the hood off I was amazed at how far out we were, but we were pointing right at the airport.  I called up to get the latest ATIS, and it was business as usual after that.

Flight 41 was some more landing practice.  I’m getting a little better at my soft-field work, though my spot landings aren’t quite bang on.  Or, when they’re spot on they’re a little too bang on as I’ve almost flown the plane right in to the ground.  Hopefully all the slip practice I got last week will help with my comfort level on final approach, and things will start coming together better. 

I still need to put together a post for my cross country to Akron.  Next on the plate is some night flight and a night cross country, probably to Colorado Springs.  I just need to get some scheduling figured out between work, doctors and my instructor.

October 21st, 2008 Posted by | Flying |

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Cross Wind Simulator

Today I got to be the guinea pig for five instructors and my school’s new toy.  They are the proud operators of a new Xwind cross wind simulator, one of only seven worldwide at present.  This thing was a blast.  On a normal flight, if you’re lucky enough to get a cross wind (imagine, now I’m thinking of a cross as lucky…) you may get a few minutes of cross wind approach work each circuit around the pattern.  This thing will let you spend all the time you need getting lined up, holding it, and playing with the conditions.  It moves laterally and pivots on two axes to cover yaw and roll maneuvers. You can simulate a standard four seat high or low wing plane, tail dragger or tricycle, throughout and beyond the standard operating envelope.  At one point in time they had me in a 15 knot cross wind, with 5 to 10 knots of gust, and mild turbulence (we like to call that the Jeffco Factor).  It was educational, as you can see how hard it is to land a plane at it’s limits, and downright fun knowing that you can experience it with zero fear of bodily or property harm.  I got a lot of practice transitioning through crab angles and both slips and back, while minimizing drift off the center line.  I was hoping to do some cross wind work, and when they offered to let me try out the simulator instead of a plane (BJC was down to one runway anyway) I jumped right on board.  I drove to the airport nervous about how I’d do and glad I would get some safe practice, and left feeling drastically more confident.  I flew the simulator a hundred times better than I thought I would, once I got used to the responsiveness of the controls.  As a student it’s hard to really judge how well you’re progressing with some maneuvers, especially those involving landings and getting time in this thing has me excited for the next situation where I might exercise the practice.  As one of my instructors once said, “we like to play with cross winds, it should be fun, if it seems like work we probably shouldn’t be flying in them”.


I can’t wait for my next chance to play.

October 16th, 2008 Posted by | Flying |

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Flight 39 – KBDU

Boulder_06 I am way way behind with these, and I have such great things to post.  I hope to get all caught up this weekend, though I have a long cross country scheduled for Sunday so I may end up short.  Anyway, on to what we did last week.

Last Thursday we left Metro intent on getting some more landings in, preferably away from BJC or Erie.  We flew up to Longmont and got in one full stop, but it was quite busy, so we meandered on over to BDU (aka Boulder Municipal).  It’s on the north east side of town, so was a very quick jaunt over from LMO.  This is by far the smallest strip I’ve landed on, though the airport itself has a lot more aircraft and services than Erie.  We got four touch and goes in on runway 8.  Gliders operate off the smaller strip just north on the runway (8G/26G in the picture), and coming in for our first circuit I finally got to see the towing operation first hand.  It’s quite impressive how quickly a glider gets off the ground!  Every single one of my landings here were way above the glide slope turning on to final.  That body of water right off the approach end of 8 is Hayden Lake, and this was my first experience being over water on short final.  I got some practice in slipping the airplane to get down without going too far past the displaced threshold.  I’ve mentioned side slipping for crosswind landings, so here’s a quick rundown on the forward slip for the non-pilots.  A forward slip is a cross controlled maneuver that allows one to bleed off altitude without increasing airspeed.  While a side slip keeps the nose aligned with the runway so that you can fly through a crosswind, it doesn’t do much to your descent rate.  A forward slip keeps your ground track, but points the nose away from the center line, and allows you to descend quite a bit without speeding up the plane, or more importantly your ground speed.  The names seem opposite of what the maneuver looks like,  but if you look at your flight path through the pocket of air you’re in it starts to make sense.

I’m hoping to get another post up tomorrow, and I may roll the last two flights in to one, as yesterday was a short flight and mostly landing practice.

October 3rd, 2008 Posted by | Flying |

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