Lesson 6. Climbing and Descending Turns 9.00am 21 August 2004

Well the day dawned bright and clear with a bit of low level fog (happens in Hamilton all the time so no big deal, unless you want to fly). The Aero Club was a buzz with activity when I arrived. Students booking out planes for long distance cross countries, others sitting written exams, and there was no office person to look after the place while Roger and Ryan were up flying. Pretty much went straight into the briefing sitting on their comfy couches. Then it was the pre-flight of my chariot for the day, ZK-JAF. That went smoothly, 6.8 quarts of oil, 70 litres of fuel in each of the two tanks (minus the 12 litres unusable = 128 litres. The Cessna 172 burns at 35l/hr, so that equates to 3hrs 40 mins of flight time – ample for a 30 minute flight). Keep all that in your head because you’ll need to report that to Hamilton Tower. Then its get strapped in and start the plane. First the pre-flight checks, OK remembered them after a while. Then start the plane – whoops, forgot to do up seat belt. Dumb mistake for the day, hopefully the last one. OK, check the ELB frequency to see if our emergency beacon is going or someone else’s is. Nothing but static which is good. Then switch to the automated weather report (ATIS). Write down the air pressure and the receipt comment. OK, time to say hi to the Tower. Ryan made me do all the radio calls today.

Me: "Juliet Alpha Foxtrot, request taxi clearance for 30 minutes dual in receipt of Golf, one zero zero niner. Three hours forty minutes fuel. Departing the zone to the west.”

Tower: “Juliet Alpha Foxtrot, taxi and hold at point Charlie for Grass 26.”

Me: “Taxi and hold at point at point Charlie for Grass 26. Juliet Alpha Foxtrot”.

OK, take the park brake off (not that it works that well like most park brakes in cars), open the throttle and off we go. The air was still quite cool, and we got some quite severe carb icing during the taxi. I looked down and Ryan had pulled the carb heat on, then a quick glance to the tachometer showed that the RPMs had dropped even further before coming back to the 1200rpm I had set. I managed to remember the run up checks, and the pre take off checks I have down pat. OK, time to go flying.

Taxiing out to the runway wasn’t too bad. Did the lineup a little off. OK, throttle to full power, keep the nose straight with the rudder. Hey this isn’t too bad, much better than last week. Keep an eye on the Temps and Pressures, yep all good. Airspeed coming up, don’t forget to pull back a bit to keep the load off the nosewheel. OK, 55 knots, rotate and hold… and we’re flying. OK. A touch more right rudder, keep the nose attitude and we’re climbing out like a pro. OK, altimeter climbing past 200 AGL, so its flaps up, landing light off and put the aircraft into the cruise climb at 80 knots. Trim. Sweet. Ryan commented at this point that I did a very good take off. I replied it was my best yet, but then again, he should know because he’s been there in the right hand seat for all my takeoffs.

OK, since we are established in the climb, lets do a climbing turn. We only have to turn about 30 degrees to the right so the mantra goes: Lookout, pick a reference point (the steam rising from that factory), roll into turn (need a bit more right rudder, already holding quite a lot on because we are still at full power), OK, reference point coming up so ease off the right rudder and roll left to level the wings and presto we’re there. Bring the nose up again into the climb attitude. Ryan says we’re going to do another turn to the left. At this stage such turns are 90 degree turns so it’s a good lookout, pick a reference point off the wing (announce what it is) and roll into the turn easing off that steady right rudder we’ve been holding (with full power you need quite a lot to stop the nose yawing left) and ease back ever so slightly to maintain the climb. Now a simple rollout. Ryan wants a right hand turn now same again, only a little more right rudder this time. “Good,” says Ryan. Whoops we’re already at 2500 feet so you'd better level off. Nose down, wait a second for airspeed to start to rise, then ease back the power to 2300rpm and wait for the airplane to settle. Then trim it for straight and level. In still morning air like this the plane is so steady its almost like driving a car. We levelled off at 2550 feet, so Ryan asks for a cruise descent to 2500 and we lower the nose and let the plane descend to 2500. Then he asks for a level turn. That went pretty well. Then he said it was time for a descending turn, so carb heat on, power back to 1000 rpm (can’t go to full idle because with the perfect icing conditions we are flying in it might block the carb completely and stop the engine) and hold the nose up.

“No, more back pressure, like this” says Ryan.

Ahhh wrong nose attitude we are actually trying to hold level flight until the aircraft slows to 65 knots. OK, sweet, 65 knots. OK then lookout, reference point and 30 degrees of bank with more left rudder than before because the plane is flying so slowly. Good, we’re in the turn. Touch more rudder, that’s it. OK, reference point coming up so right rudder with aileron and roll us wings level. Check the airspeed, 67 knots, not bad.

Then Ryan takes over and shows me a max rate turn because I did the foolish thing and asked for a demonstration. Two G feels kind of weird but it was interesting to hear the stall horn blaring while the engine is at full power. Fortunately I don’t have to demonstrate this for my private license (you do it for your commercial though). What did feel uncomfortable was the rapid roll in and out then he snapped into a hard turn to keep us in the training area.

All too soon its time to return. For the first time since I started lessons I was totally disoriented. Ryan had pointed us back to the airport but I was convinced that we were heading north. Dumb moment number 2 – should have checked the compass. OK, there’s Temple View, report in.

Me: “Juliet Alpha Foxtrot is south of Temple View, requesting joining instructions for a full stop landing.”

Got that mouthful out OK.

Tower: “Juliet Alpha Foxtrot, come straight in and lineup for runway Grass 08 1500 feet or below. QNH 1009. Report 2 mile finals.”

I could not handle that so Ryan simply hit his mike switch and said, “Straight in 08 1500 or below. Wilco, Juliet Alpha Foxtrot”.

Ryan then asks for downwind checks. Brakes (test for pressure), landing gear down and locked (or in our case down and welded), mixture to full rich, fuel (contents, selector, pump, primer and pressure goes the litany), propellor to full fine (not applicable in the 172), harness and hatches secure, landing light on. Did that OK. Add 10 degrees flap, keep her steady.

OK, there’s the airport, and runway 08. There’s the railway. Time to report in.

Me: “Juliet Alpha Foxtrot, overhead railway tracks”

Tower: “Juliet Alpha Foxtrot, cleared to land Grass 08.”

Me: “Cleared to land Grass 08, Juliet Alpha Foxtrot”.

OK short finals now. Carb heat to cold, power to idle, no we are short so add a touch of power, airspeed is down to 65 knots add more flap, keep her steady, OK full flaps, oh crap we’re all over the place. OK she’s wings level now, nose down a bit, eyes up at the end of the runway, round out, bring her to level, more back pressure, more back pressure, more (then I pretty much pull the column back into my guts) and we’re down. I get on the brakes a little early, naughty me. OK there’s the taxiway. On with the brakes.

Tower: “Juliet Alpha Foxtrot taxi to Aero Club.”

Me: “Taxi to Aero Club, Juliet Alpha Foxtrot.”

OK, turn us into the taxiway, now landing checks, flaps up, landing light off, transponder to standby. Whoops we stopped, add some power, not moving, a little more, ease back on the controls, ahh that’s better, ease back on the power and bring us in. This time I want to line up on the parking spot but I think I got us left of centreline. OK, we are on the tiedown spot. Radio check the emergency frequency to see if our beacon has been turned on by my rough landing. No, we’re good. OK, throttle to idle, magneto check, right, left, off, both. Good. Then its pull the mixture to full lean to stop the engine and we’re done.

Ryan complimented me on the lesson. He said I am getting well on top of flying the aircraft, and am doing really well for such a low time pilot. I have set this lesson as my benchmark. Tomorrows lesson weather permitting is Basic Stalls. And it will be my second lesson with the CFI Roger (gulp). I am looking forward to demonstrating my airmanship to Roger. I owe it to Ryan to put my best foot forward.