Categories
Flight training

Progress?

Feels like ages since I managed to sit down and write a post.

So. Where are we in this journey? Well, I’m excited to report that I have made significant progress this month after 3weeks of not flying. The first two flights were not stellar – on the first we were hounded by a localized Cb cell which looked like it was going to park itself right over the field so we bailed and came back early – still it was an intro to the routing to and from the General Flying area which in the congested airspace of Johannesburg is a little fiddly. On the second we had surface temperatures of 33 Celsius and one of the older aircraft – a few of whose horses had escaped over the years. Let’s just say it was interesting. DA on the ground was 7740ft (off a 4520′ elevation field) and we could not climb over 7500′ so we were understandably a little twitchy about high angle of attack flying..

Which brings me to what we are doing in my PPL training at the moment. I have escaped the circuit after taking 17h of circuits to solo and then completing 3h solo in the circuit. Now we are back to the general flying area and doing steep turns (45deg), revising stalls and also doing diversions, forced landings and precautionary landings. This is all in preparation for the next milestone in training which is going solo again but to the general flying area this time.

Solo GF requires a good understanding of the airspace structure and the routing to and from the airfield. It is necessary to report Zone outbound from the CTA, then transit the Johannesburg Special Rules West airspace and from there into the general flying area (which has it’s own frequency). At the same time there are a number of prohibited areas which must be avoided and a shelf on the TMA (the yellow shaded area) from 6500-7400′ which is very easy to bust.

Fortunately the general flying area extends from the ground to FL100 so there is a lot of space once there – although it too can be quite crowded and some folks are, how shall we put it, a little deficient in their position reports. This means eyes on stalks all the time.

We usually start with some stalling revision – clean and dirty and all the way to the break (because if you’re not going to actually stall the aircraft what is the point of calling it stall practice?), then some steep turns which I was somewhat disappointed to find that we only have to turn at 45deg and not 60deg (60deg turns are required for the Commercial Rating) and thereafter the forced and precautionary landings. I’m finding the steep turns a little bit difficult – it seems to be quite difficult to feel the nose slipping and there is a lot more back pressure required on the stick than I was expecting. The books all say that you need to be looking around during the turns but I’m finding that I end up looking up and in the turn direction more than anywhere else – this may be a function of the G forces which I’m not accustomed to…

The forced landings are fairly routine – much like the EFATO scenario but with a LOT more time to plan and usually many more options in terms of potential landing sites. The gliding characteristics of the SR20 are not unlike those of a small brick but if anything I’m finding that I’m arriving high and having to do S-turns and/or slips to reduce altitude sufficiently to be able to make a rational approach. Of course, from these altitudes (2500-3000ft AGL), were we to have a real engine failure the correct approach would be to deploy the CAPS and ride down under the chute.

The precautionary landings too are quite fun – once you have the procedure down – but the workload is quite high especially on a high end afternoon with LOTS of turbulence and rotors from the nearby hills – it’s easy to forget a step – high level 800ft at right angles to field, 500ft low level inspection on the upwind parallel to the field, back up to 800ft for downwind checks, pax briefing and radio calls then simulated shutdown once on base to final turn and all followed by a go-around at about 200ft AGL.

When I’m solo in the GF doing the practice for all this we aren’t supposed to descend below 500ft AGL at any point so the high level is done at 1200 AGL, low level at 800 and go-around at 600 – it’s more the procedure than anything else that needs practice as it is impossible to practice landing into a maize field ….

I’ve also managed to pick up a few more exams in the interim – left now with only one – Human Factors and performance (which should be a breeze given the basic level of physiology required). Then it’s time to finish the solo GF time (5h), navigation and cross country exercises and then time for the PPL test – it’s looking like late March at the moment – but we’ll take it one day and one nm at a time..

Categories
Flight training

Stall Spin Checkout and Dual Check

Lesson 6

Date:- 4 August 2017

Aircraft: – ZS-JAB

Route: – FALA – Magalies GFA – FALA

METAR: –METAR FALA 041300Z 14004KT 040V170 9999 SCT035 20/M00 Q1024 NOSIG

Hours:- 1.3

Total Hours:- 9.7

 

Well it’s fair to say that I have had mixed feelings about this flight. It’s a bit of a rite of passage in my mind. After every 10h prior to going solo we have to have a “dual check” where the head flight instructor flies with the student to make sure he/she is progressing well and to check up on the quality of instruction his instructors are providing.

Since I’ve done all the upper airwork exercises it was also an opportunity to do a “stall/spin signout” which is required (for good reason)prior to starting work in the traffic pattern. A lot of people kill themselves by stalling or spinning at low altitude in the circuit, particularly on the base-final turn and stall recognition and prompt recovery are thus important to have a good handle on.

It’s difficult flying with a new instructor – especially one you haven’t met before. But he seems like a decent sort and is very enthusiastic about doing things the right way. In fact, I thought my existing instructor was very “by the book”. This chap was even more so – but in a very good way. So we did things a little differently – the hard part for me was that I felt like I was having an exam and he was very much in the mode of instructing. In fact, he did all the radio work despite the fact that my regular instructor told him I’m quite capable – but it was nice to concentrate on the flying.

As it turned out it was just as well he was doing the radio work – but more on that later. Because taxiway A4 is closed at FALA at the moment for repair and resurfacing we are doing intersection takeoffs and the run up bay for 07 is unavailable – so we did our run ups on the apron and taxi’d out to toward A3. (Along the green line). As it turns out we could have done our run up short of A3 because wouldn’t you know it but 3 737’s all pushed from the apron simultaneously and we had to wait for them. Which would have been fine except one of the 737 crews managed (between the 2 of them) to forget the well NOTAM’d closure of A4 and they taxied merrily off toward the A4 end of 07. One imagines a few red faces when they had to do a U-turn in the runup bay and come back. While all of this was going on we just waited and waited and waited on the taxiway.

Fortunately TWR was on board and while the second 737 was backtracking to the departure end of 07 we were given clearance to do an expedited departure and turn out from the A3 intersection.

image

Rest of the flight was essentially uneventful. The instructor was pretty good value because he had some different ideas about doing things (all of which seemed valid) – he even tried to cure my “looking inside-itis” by turning off the PFD (there are backup instruments) and I was quite chuffed to do a full turn and not be more than 100ft off initial altitude. Stalls were fine except as promised, this particular aeroplane definitely drops a wing at the stall break which caught me a little by surprise.

4 aug

A couple of (not so good) full flap stalls followed by one decent one and it was back to FALA for another landing – mine this time and really not too much drama at all. I feel like I’m getting the feel of the aeroplane.

So I’m officially signed off for stall recovery/spin avoidance and the next step is into the circuit for a couple of hours. Solo should be soon but I suspect it will be delayed due to a SNAFU with my medical – we were a day or two late in submitting documents (which have to be in 7 working days prior to the medical panel meeting – upshot is that my case wasn’t presented so will only be reviewed on 15 August. With formal decision only being communicated 7 working days thereafter.

In the meantime however, I’m getting stuck into Air Law which trust me is a fate worse than death. On the plus side, my Crazed Pilot audio recording cable arrived and it actually works. So hopefully now my post flight reviews of gopro footage will be more useful. I also found a good place to position the GoPro to get a good overview of panel and horizon – at ear level just forward of my head on the pilot side door window. Some more footage below….

 

 

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j2TDtc7W9uM]

Categories
Equipment Flight training

The correct attitude

Lesson 5

Date:- 28 July 2017

Aircraft: – ZS-BOR

Route: – FALA – Magalies GFA – FALA

METAR: – FALA 18110Z VRB05KT 9999 FEW030 17/03 Q1031 NOSIG

Hours:- 1.4

Total Hours:- 8.4

Power + Attitude = Performance
This mantra is drummed into student pilots and has been for years. But I believe it goes beyond the physics of flying. Power is easy – Either you have it or you don't. So for me it isn't as important as attitude.

On Friday I had a revelation while flying. My instructor kept telling me to lower the nose, lower the nose, get the bloody nose down while we were in level flight. I was convinced the nose was low enough (in my defense the horizon consisted of 3 fingers of haze…). 70% power and ZS-BOR (my favourite SR20 in the school) is wallowing along at 105kts. So, in line with my stated policy of listening to the instructor, I trim the nose down 2 clicks. And…. as I expected, she starts to accelerate. And descend (OK, the VSI drops) – I hear my instructor telling me to look outside. I'm about to say, "I AM looking outside" but then it occurs to me I've noticed the VSI and I can't have noticed the VSI if I was looking outside. So I bite my tongue. And then I feel it.

There is a subtle shift I feel in my butt. And she accelerates to 120kts. The nose comes up, I trim her down and bingo. We are on the correct side of the power curve. Attitude. And now we're really flying…. I can feel now in retrospect how we weren't doing so well before – definitely on the wrong side of the curve.

That got me thinking about attitude – with the right attitude you can really fly. I want to fly with the right attitude. I'm too old and have too many people depending on me to take a slapdash approach to my flying. So I make sure I dress correctly and smartly for lessons, and have a pen in my pocket, pitch up on time, and learn the flows (OK, I'm trying to learn the flows).

"Just because you aren't getting paid doesn't mean you don't have to be professional"

I can't remember where I heard this but I think it's a good philosophy. Hopefully I'm still using it when I can't fly anymore.

Equipment

I used my old iPhone and MotionX GPS to record our track for the flight – I was amazed to see we flew almost 200km – lots of back and forth through the GFA – see pic below.
28 jul

I also tried (again) to record ATC/Intercom audio from my GoPro – but as we leveled off in the cruise the cable fell out – which I thought was weird, until I looked at it and saw the plug was completely bent out of shape. Which was very weird – until I reviewed the footage – I must have kicked the cable and ruined the plug when I got into the plane. Bother. So now waiting for a new one. Which despite paying Amazon for expedited shipping will still only arrive on Thursday according to Amazon and more annoyingly on Monday NEXT week according to UPS.

The flying

This was a lesson to firm up the stalls because next week I have my stall/spin/high GFA work signoff eval – with the chief instructor – it also forms part of the dual check which they use to make sure the instructors are up to spec – which means I'm flying with a new instructor for this. So we did power off, power on, landing and clean config stalls, reinforced HASELL checks, and even a quick rudder spiral dive for good measure. A selection of the stalls are shown in the video below – I was surprised at how benign the power on stall was – definitely less of an event than I imagined – still not something to take lightly. I'm finally nailing the power off stall – much less aggressive forward pressure and more of a check forward – still a bit hard on the right rudder as power comes in – interestingly I didn't appreciate this fully until reviewing the GoPro footage – I do have an inkling of how much to put in now though. I did appreciate it when the instructor said, "your'e good enough to get signed out, but I know you want to do them better, so let's do some more". – that's the attitude.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AMJGyMurpN8&w=560&h=315]

Landing was much better – although I did round out a meter or two too high so we had a very positive touchdown – but all in all not too bad at all.

Categories
Flight training

#notflying (on Purpose) – Stalling and Guineafowl

So it seems stalling isn’t such a big issue after all.

alternate textSexy little Gen 5 SR22T ZS-BET

Yeah, that’s not quite right is it? Stalling is a big issue and should be avoided at all costs. Except when you try to do it deliberately. When you’re learning to fly. I was fairly anxious about this lesson but as it turns out, my anxiety was misplaced.

Lesson 4

Aircraft: – ZS-BOR (my favourite)

Route:- FALA – GFA – FALA 

METAR:- FALA 191300Z 05004KT 310V120 CAVOK 21/M04 Q1028 NOSIG

Hours:-  1.6

Total Hours:- 7.0

What an awesome flight this was. The ubiquitous Lanseria haze was still making itself known so horizons were iffy at best and almost impossible (when flying into the sun) at other times.  I’m not sure if this aircraft (BOR) is a better behaved one than the previous day’s one (ZIP) but straight and level was MUCH easier to achieve, and the turns were a LOT prettier than yesterday’s. A bit of decent altitude and then it was time for the HASELL checks –

  • Height(>2000ft AGL),
  • Aircraft (configured for maneuver)
  • Safety
  • Security(everything strapped down/put away – no anvils in the back seat!)
  • Engine Full rich, boost on, indicators in green
  • LookOut
  • Landing strip for emergency landing.

I keep forgetting the mnemonic so included it here for my own edification.

Then clean stalls – this is a great demonstration of the delay in the pressure instruments – on the AHI it looks like we’re nose level but the nose is down… pull back, pull back, pull back some more and a hefty (surprisingly so) amount of LEFT rudder and then stall warning (and then to the break after a few imminents) – buffet is definitely there but not exaggerated – and she drops the nose but provided no sloppy flying (ailerons level…) no wing drop at all… It gets VERY, VERY quiet in the cockpit as the slipstream decreases. Stalls in the landing config very different – there is a significantly lower pitch angle and again she stalls beautifully – no wobbly wing drops or anything like that.

I’m led to believe that a spin CAN be induced but it requires dedicated action on the part of the pilot.. Not going to be that guy.

So what about the guineafowl? As we were coming back to Lanseria for joining it was obvious that the circuit and approaches were very busy – 3 aircraft including us coming from the GFA, a heli inbound and at least one 737 on an RNAV approach. So we’re listening out and then we hear someone going around. And then another plane goes around. Then they have to close the runway to get someone to chase the bloody guineafowl away and in the meantime we get told to extend our downwind, there are at least 2 aircraft doing orbits and 2 737’s holding for takeoff. We get base clearance but get told to keep the speed up so we chuck out 50% flaps and aim for 105, turn final and then race along in level flight to the descent point, start descent, stick out remaining flaps at 700ft AGL and make a reasonably brisk approach but bang on profile, 80 over the fence, 75 over the numbers and out of the corner of my eye I see the instructor take her hand off the stick – it’s my landing. And it’s not too shabby. And we still have to keep the power up to get the heck off the runway before we become a nose ornament on one of those Mango 737s waiting for us to land. Good fun…. (did I mention I made my first unassisted landing?)

Next time it’s power on and accelerated stalls – can’t wait.

Categories
Flight training

Incipient Stall lesson

(See what I did there?)

My next lesson is due to be on slow flight and stalls. Now I know that these are safe and a necessary part of flight training but the whole concept worries me somewhat. I have 3.7hours of training under the belt so far which is essentially 3 lessons. My instructor says she is very happy with my progress and wants to get all the high work done to get me into the circuit.

I bought the (Excellent) Air Pilot Manual book 1 “Flying training” which used to be edited by Trevor Thom but has now been taken over by others. It has great explanations of the airwork required for the various exercises and I’ve been reading up on the slow flight and stall exercises. And I don’t believe I am comfortable enough with the airplane at the moment to do that exercise – there are lots of warnings about entering the stall regime in level flight and being very precise with speeds, attitude and power. And I don’t think I’m quite there yet.

Also, by the time I fly that lesson it will be 13days since I last flew. So the whole thing makes me a little nervy. I’ve decided to book another lesson which is not as goal directed prior to the stall lesson – just so I can get more comfortable with the plane and the basic maneuvers.

Does this make me chicken? Maybe. But I don’t really care. I’d rather be comfortable behind the controls and ahead of the aeroplane than behind the plane and uncomfortable.. And in the back of my mind always lies the knowledge that a spin (although it is apparently almost impossible to spin the Cirrus) in this plane is only recoverable by using the CAPS. I don’t want to have to pull the CAPS.