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

Attitude Flying – Lesson 2

So its been a bit of a bad time for flying of late. What with the persistent winter inversion and ongoing IMC at Lanseria and then someone apparently broke an engine mount on one of the Avidyne equipped SR20s. Which prompted the flying school to pull all the Avidyne SR20s off the line and inspect the engine mounts. This is an advantage of having the maintenance facility for the aircraft on site. The engineers know the flight instructors and won’t send them off into the wild blue yonder in dodgy aircraft. Bad news for me was that I had a lesson cancelled. Better safe….

But there’s always another day. And that was Thursday. Lots of work to do in the plane. On the plus side – my NFlightCam GoPro ATC Cable arrived on Monday so was able to use that. Now if I’d actually managed to plug it in correctly I’d have ATC audio. But I didn’t. Next time..

But back to Thursday. Got to fly the lovely ZS-JAB complete with her  faux USAF markings..
image

Actually, I wonder if this isn’t one of the Cirruses used by the USAF for ab-initio training and then sold on? Apparently these SR20’s are some of the highest time Cirruses in the world.

First hurdle was that I managed to flood the engine. #facepalm. Fixed that. Instructor says, “OK, you can do some of the radio calls.”

So I belt out the first contact. She looks at me sideways and says… “Are you sure you aren’t a pilot already?” Then I have to confess the hours of online Flight Simulation and virtual ATC I’ve been doing for years and years. At least that’s one thing I don’t have to worry about.

So.

ROUTE:-  FALA – Magalies GFA – FALA

AIRCRAFT:- Cirrus SR-20 ZS-JAB

Hours:- 1.4

Goals: – Exercises 6-10

Taxiing is coming right!! It’s less like a runaway shopping cart and more like an aero plane. I’ll get on top of that free castoring nosewheel yet!

Takeoff was OK-ish – overdid the right rudder and really struggled to find centerline again on the roll but liftoff was good – was able to find Vy easily at 95kts. It was very bumpy en route to the GFA and pretty hazy making heading holding difficult. Turning left over Hartebeespoort dam we flew UNDER a vulture. Which was really cool. (Better to fly under than into…).

On to Straight and Level – same speeds, different attitude. Climbs, descents, turns. I’m starting to get the feel of the plane and looking OUT is definitely an improvement on staring at the panel. Turns are going to take some work. Left turns are okay – the spinner traces the horizon nicely at 30deg of bank. Right turns are harder because I see mostly sky and while the spinner may well be tracing the horizon, I can’t see it. But after (quite) a lot of turns they were getting easier.

Back into FALA airspace and I was back on the radio – not making an a*se of myself at least. I’m starting to recognize the landmarks around the airport which will help. I know where the turn point onto final approach to 07 is. My approach and round out  was “very good” (according to instructor) but the landing… Well let’s just say that if you hear the instructor saying “don’t fight me” as you’re about to touch down it’s probably not a good thing.  Apparently I was trying to bank the plane left in ground effect. On debriefing it would appear that as I flared my wrist was externally rotating which was twisting the stick to the left – leading to bank. I’m going to have to concentrate very hard on that.

Here is some audio free GoPro footage from the lesson.

Next lesson 19 July…..

Categories
Flight training

When VFR is not VFR

Yesterday was supposed to be a fly day. My flight school (Cirrus Training at Lanseria) books 2h slots for an hour lesson and 2h slot for an hour briefing (for those lessons that need a briefing) before.  We were scheduled to do the “straight and level” briefing and then fly the exercise.

A briefing is essentially a one-on-one tutorial covering an aspect of flight which then followed by a flying lesson where the concepts are solidified and demonstrated. I had 9h00 to 13h00 carved out for this. I really look forward to the lessons – so from Thursday I was keeping an eye on the meteosat images (for approaching fronts) and from Friday, watching the METAR and TAF for Lanseria (FALA). For those not in the know – the METAR is a coded report on the current weather and the TAF is essentially a long term (16-24h) outlook on the weather to come.

So keeping an eye on both gives you an idea about the conditions at the airfield. IF they are created at the airfield. (Which I suspect they may not be….) Driving in on Saturday morning the ground frequency reports were indicating ground fog and haze with a visibility of 5000m – with the airfield operating in instrument meteorological conditions (IMC) – despite a METAR which suggested CAVOK (Ceiling and Visual OK). Interestingly weather at home was severe clear but at FALA not so much. I suspect it has a lot to do with the informal settlements in the area – when it’s cold there is a lot of heating by burning wood etc and because the field lies in a bit of a valley the pollution gets trapped under the inversion layer.

No problem I think… give it an hour or so and it’ll burn off / blow away. So we start our brief. The brief is, in a word, hectic. I’m not sure how people without some physics in their education manage. Also, I was very much under the impression that I understood lift and drag. Apparently I didn’t. But thanks to some very intense (my instructor takes the briefings seriously and explains things well – lots of colors(!)) lectures I can now expound on induced and profile drag, Centre of Gravity:centre of pressure couples and my personal fave… Power Required Curves.

Straight and level briefing done, we stick our heads out onto the apron and… get blown back into the office. Yes, it’s clearing. BUT now there is 25kts blowing across the runway. Demonstrated cross wind landing limit in the Cirrus SR20 is 26kts. ( Instructor’s comment was that this should not be regarded as something achievable but was demonstrated by test pilots) Guess we aren’t going flying. We decided to knock out some more briefings – this will decrease the amount of time I’ll need to carve out for future lessons. We did Climbing. Then Descending. Then Turns. FOUR hours of briefing.

Induced Drag

I’d consider the morning adequately seized. Could we have flown? Maybe. Would it have been safe? No. The ONE thing I am absolutely determined to do is to train safe, and then fly safe. I really like the school’s approach to safety. My instructor and I see eye-to-eye on safety. The aircraft has great safety features. Is General Aviation dangerous? Maybe. But when I read the accident reports, it’s usually quite easy to see what went wrong. And a lot of the time it’s flying in marginal weather. So we reschedule the flying. I can fly any day. But only if I’ve made good decisions on marginal days….. Blue skies….