Circuits – AP12 & 13

Staying in the pattern (flying circuits) is the best way to practice landings because you get a landing in every five minutes or so.  The video above shows one of those circuits.  It’s not me flying but it shows what I was doing moments earlier.

 

The basic left-hand traffic pattern.

The basic left-hand traffic pattern.

The traffic pattern is pretty simple.  It can either be left-hand or right-hand.  Sometimes both circuits run at the same time depending on how ATC are running things.  A normal circuit only takes about five minutes so you can get plenty of landing practice in a single lesson.  The pattern here at Goodyear is flown at 2000 feet above mean sea level.  On the ground you are already 968 feet above mean sea level so the pattern is 1000 feet above ground level.  You fly the upwind to 500ft and then turn crosswind, still climbing.  Upon reaching 2000ft level off and if you haven’t already, turn for the downwind leg.  The downwind leg is flown about one mile away from the runway.

When the touchdown point on the runway is about 45 degrees behind your wing, that is a good time to turn onto your base leg.  When turning base reduce power and set flaps to 25 degrees to assist with altitude loss and slowing down.  Turn onto final and set flaps to 40 degrees – maintain 70kts until over the runway.  When over the runway, reduce power to idle as appropriate and raise the nose (flare) for touchdown.  As you probably heard on the radio there was a quick chirp from the stall warner just before touchdown.  That’s pretty much how you want it to be.  You don’t want to stall any higher than just above touch down!

This is the view of the runway on the base leg.

This is the view of the runway on the base leg.

Turning onto final.

Turning onto final.

If you look at the full size version of the ‘final’ picture (by clicking on it) you will see the PAPIs (Precision Approach Path Indicators) on the left hand side of the runway.  These help in setting up the correct descent rate when approaching the runway.  What you want to see is white on the outside and red on the inside.  That shows you’re on the correct glide path.  Two whites tell you that you’re too high and two reds tell you that you’re too low.

Climb, Descent and Medium Turns – With Radio Calls! (AP4)

My flight on Thursday was history in the making – it was the first time I was let loose on the radios to air traffic control.  It was a good flight and when my instructor said ‘right, time to go back’ I couldn’t believe it.  The lessons always go so quick.  We covered climbs, power-off descents and medium turns (up to 30 degrees of bank).  I was looking forward to having a go at landing but we were short of time and the sun was getting low in the sky – and directly lined up with the runway we would be approaching which would make it difficult for anyone to land, never mind a first timer!

I downloaded and  compiled my radio calls to the tower from liveatc.net so everyone can have a good laugh.  You can tell from the calls that I am an absolute beginner.  That’s okay though, the tower controllers were patient and helpful.  Have a listen!  One of my friends was on the tower frequency at the time and had a good laugh at my ‘arrival’ call.

Everything up to that point was okay, a little hesitation here and there but nothing too bad.  Listen out for Warrior 271SG, that’s me!  I’m pretty inconsistent with my call sign, I sometimes miss bits off or give more than the tower was looking for.  Once they have addressed me as Warrior 1SG I can use that but I forgot!  Once I have my hold short instructions from the tower you can hear Airship Snoopy Two call up.  I had to leave that in there because if I had to pick any voice for an airship pilot – that one would be it!

Straight after that you can hear me call up the tower to state my position and tell them I want to land.  It wasn’t really that quick, I just cut out the bits inbetween.  Instead of saying ‘…two miles south of the gap with information sierra inbound for full stop’ which means I want to land I said: ‘…two miles south of the gap fooooooooor…arrival?’  Ha!  It sounds as if I was asking the tower what I wanted.  After that things start getting a little busy so my instructor takes over.  There are two aircraft in front off us to land so we have to listen and look out for where they are.

My radio calls on friday were a lot better from what I could tell, I’ll post them when I get them put together.  I’ve just discovered a problem with my keyboard – sometimes it prints the letter I have pressed twice and sometimes not at all.  That needs fixing quick and I have no idea where to start.

Thanks to liveatc.net for the recording.

Effects of Controls & Straight and Level

Me with the wee Warrior.

Me with the wee Warrior.

My next two lessons (AP2&AP3) covered effects of controls and straight and level as the title of this post suggests.  I was a little nervous about the second flight because of the nausea thing but it wasn’t an issue.  Both lessons were very smooth because they were the first of the day.  A favourite part of both of these lessons was taking off.  Even though the wee warrior doesn’t have the same acceleration as a passenger jet it is still really satisfying to push the throttle forwards and accelerate towards rotation speed (the speed where you lift the nose off the ground) which is 65kts in the Warrior.

B-E-A-utiful view! Kind of looks like Sim City from up here.

B-E-A-utiful view! Kind of looks like Sim City from up here.

My lessons are usually back to back with my two flying buddies so our instructor will do one flight after the other.  If the first two pilots go together on the first flight, we can land away at another airport, switch, and have the second pilot fly back to Goodyear and then the third pilot gets his flight.  I hope you followed that!  On AP3, we landed at Mobile which is about 20nm south/south-east of Goodyear.  It is insanely quiet out there, the airport is un-manned and the only other thing nearby is a landfill and I couldn’t even hear that.  I haven’t landed yet but I look forward to it.  It looks like quite the challenge!  Taking off isn’t terribly difficult, keep the nose on the centre line with the rudder (requires right rudder due to various forces acting on the plane) and rotate at 65kts.  Hold a slight nose up attitude to climb away but not too steeply.  Keep your hand on the throttle until 1000ft above the ground – that isn’t strictly essential in a single engine aeroplane, it’s more preparation for flying a twin.  If you have an engine failure on takeoff in a twin, you want to throttle back the live engine straight away.  You can’t do that unless your hand is on the throttle.  It’s fun and I’m looking forward to the challenge of landing.  Unfortunately it isn’t as simple as taking off – but then it wouldn’t be a challenge.  AP4 will be tomorrow morning – climb, descend and medium turns.

Straight and level was a good lesson for getting to know the area better.  There’s not much else you can do going straight and level for over an hour!  We did turn, just not very often.  The aim of the lesson was to be able to hold altitudes (using trim) and hold headings using references on the ground.

Who said there was a 'right' way up anyway?

Who said there was a ‘right’ way up anyway?

I was out at an RC flying club this morning – my first time ever to such a place.  It was a lot of fun too even though I didn’t get to fly.  If I was even allowed to fly the pictured aircraft above I would have said no right away.  The risk of messing up is way too high!  The pilot of the blue plane has been flying RC aircraft for about thirteen years and that is clearly visible when watching him do that flying thing.  He had it upside down, spinning, looping, ‘hovering’ and flying sideways.  The performance was a complete show stealer, everyone stopped to watch and for good reason too, it was very impressive!  He was just as good with RC helicopters too, I had no idea they were so maneuverable – or strong enough to withstand such insane flying.

Helicopter or lawn mower? Both!

Helicopter or lawn mower? Both!

Right, that’s it.  I’ll let you know how tomorrow goes.