July 25th, 2012: Maneuvers Review
I can't help but love the ground track on this one! Since the last couple of weeks have been all about getting used to the Cessna, tower work and landings, today was all about reviewing maneuvers. We managed to squeeze a bunch of maneuvers in today including slow flight, slow flight turning climbs and descents, power off and power on stalls, steep bank turns, turning on a point, and S-turns over a road.While I'm feeling pretty good about performing most of these maneuvers at this point, I'm still not very confident and properly setting each one up, something I understand, that is required on the check ride. It's one thing to have your instructor walk you through a maneuver as you perform it, but another thing altogether to know how to properly set up, and move between one maneuver to the next.
First up was slow flight. Slow flight is all about, well, flying slow, primarily to prepare you for situations where you are flying slow, as in take offs and landings. At 4500 feet I leveled off and configured the Cessna for slow flight, throttle back, flaps down full, trim back, nose pitched up and speed back to 45 knots, you then reintroduce some throttle, in my case, to about 1800 rpm, to hold your speed and altitude. It's amazing how much throttle it takes to fly the plane slow. More contrary rules of flying, you use pitch to control your speed, and the throttle to control your altitude. Holding the plane in slow flight my instructor then had me perform a series of maneuvers, including turns, level, ascending and descending, ascending and descending on a course heading, and a couple of stalls. I won't go into to too much detail, but each of these maneuvers, especially turns, are much different in slow flight. Because you are flying much slower than at cruising flight, turns happen much faster for instance, which makes perfect sense if you think about it as momentum and speed are not carrying you around in a wider path. In order to descend, you need to both reduce throttle and pitch the nose down a bit, although not too much as you will start to again pick up speed, while ascending requires a lot more power, and a higher pitch, or nose high attitude, to keep you from gaining speed.
I still need some work on configuring the plane for slow flight stalls, so I'm going to practice those next week when I do my solo maneuvers. Configuring the plane for a slow flight stall is essentially like configuring the plane for landing. You get the plane down to approach speed, say 65, configured for landing, so full laps, trim set and throttle back to idle, or nearly idle, and then you slowly pull the yoke back and pitch the nose up until the plane starts to "buffet". In the Citabria, that's a very noticeable shaking, in the Cessna, it's quite a bit more subtle and harder to detect the exact time your stall has occurred. Once in the stall, the nose immediately starts to pitch down, and depending on how much rudder you're holding may also start to pitch to one side, at which time you immediately give it full throttle, pitch the nose down just a bit to get some speed, and then under full power start to ascend as quickly, although not as steeply, as possible as you don't want to introduce a secondary stall by pitching the nose up too far during your recovery. All in all that went very well.
Next I ran through a couple of full power stalls, again, from my understanding, practice for situations that might occur on take off when you have the plane under full power and something causes you to stall, say, too high of a pitch angle or perhaps a strong headwind. Of course there are other similar situations in which a full power stall might also occur in flight as well. Full power stalls are a bit different in there configuration in that you do them without flaps, and your trim and power are set for cruising flight. Under full power you simply pitch the nose up with a continuous pull on the yoke until the plane starts to buffet. The recovery from a power on stall is very similar to the recovery of a power off stall in that what you want is to get the stall stopped, and the plane ascending and flying again as soon as possible with as much pitch as possible without introducing a secondary stall. Again, the idea of this is that you may find yourself, say, in a full power stall after a take off and you're going to want to recover and climb as soon as possible to avoid any obstacles, say trees, power lines, or structures.
On the way out to the practice area where we were going to work on S turns, I ran through a couple of constant rate turns in each direction, both of which went very well, once done with the turns, we headed out over some open land near the bay, descended to 1500 feet and I flew a couple of more circles to see if we could get an idea of which way the wind was blowing. By flying a circular pattern and referencing the ground, you can determine which way the plane has drifted. The opposite direction of your drift is where the wind is coming from. Of course, this takes a very controlled constant rate turn in order to make that determination, but I need all the practice I can get doing those as well. Once we determined the wind direction we selected an entry point over a long stretch of straight highway where I could set up and practice S turns over a road, the first set of which were not so great as I inevitably turned to steep or too shallow one direction or the other. in my defense, and it isn't much of one, I had the wrong idea in my head about what I was supposed to be doing, so after asking my instructor to demonstrate a series of proper S turns, I took back the controls and and performed a better set of my own. Not good enough to pass the check ride yet, but close, and with a better understanding.
With the maneuvers done, we headed back for Skypark where we were met with some very indecisive wind. While we determined it was favoring runway 26, on 2 subsequent approaches I was hit with such a tail wind that it forced me to do a go around on both approaches. On the third approach, for the sake of time as we were running late, my instructor asked to take the controls and land, which of course I had no objection to, and he too, initiated a go around during his landing attempt. Today, the fourth time would be a charm. Making our call into local traffic we switched to a right downwind pattern for runway 08 and I swung around for my new approach. Bringing the plane down on Runway 08 is always a challenge as there are trees and buildings just before the runway but despite our now finicky head wind, I managed to bring us in for a perfectly acceptable landing holding off the flare for as long as possible for a nice glide in and roll out.
Tomorrow, IFR maneuvers and navigation aid practice. Can't wait!