Great lesson – stalls and practice forced landings!

October 27, 2012 (still catching up on previous stuff)

Well seems like things are finally starting to line up a bit. My instructor has finally started to get a handle on my training records and progress, so I can start to see a pattern in where I have been and where I am heading. My previous instructor wasn’t much for writing things down, and always seemed to be in a hurry.

But, onward and upward, as they say…

I got the first 2 hour slot for the day, and it was a beautiful morning, maybe 15 degrees and not a cloud in the sky, very little wind. Preflighted the little Jabiru, got my ATIS and went through all the calls and checks a little quicker than normal – I think I am starting to get the hang of all this! Just like driving, there is not only the mechanical act of manipulating the vehicle through the desired path, but also the 1,000,001 other little things that compete for your attention – and it is this more than the mechanics of it which take so much time to absorb. If all i had to do was sit in the sky and steer, it would be easy! But no, there are heights, speeds, and angles to be maintained, a wealth of information coming from the instruments and radio to be considered, my own thoughts to be filtered through, the instructor’s voice…. so on and so on…

Anyway, it was just too nice a day to be stuck in circuits, and there is so much more of the syllabus to get through, we decided we would go out and do engine failure/forced landings and stalls. Finally, stalls! I have been trying to get the stalls lesson in for probably 6 months, and its been one comedy-of-errors after another.

So out we went, up to 4500′ once we were out of the CTL area. First, my instructor demonstrated: HASELL checks, power off, raiiiiiiiise the nose, controls get sloppy, speed goes wayyyy down, and – wait for it – we’re in the stall. Then the recovery – lower the nose, build up speed and level off. Lost a few hundred feet. Second time around, he repeated, but this time with a full power recovery. Same basic thing, but this time I don’t think we lost more than 50 feet. Next up, my turn and it really went off without a hitch. Completely anti-climactic and a non-issue, considering the buildup over the last 6 months anticipating…

After this, and probably due to the steep bank angles, the right fuel tank showed empty – I am guessing gravity moved it over to the other one. Although we still had plenty of fuel for the task, we took the opportunity to add a practical element to the lesson and diverted to Camden for fuel.

There I got to taxi to the bowser and swipe the card and fill’er up. Another Mystery Unveiled.

After a quick turnaround, back to the training area and a quick en route recap of the Engine Failure/Forced Landing briefing. Then, as with the stalls, first a demonstration followed by My Turn.

Here are my observations on this – I was quite astonished that even with the engine at idle, there is no sudden feeling of “dropping out of the sky”, and no panic-inducing sensation to prevent me from remembering my first action, which is set it at 70kts for glide. Once I got in the rhythm of putting the nose where I needed it to maintain 70, I was able to do my initial checks (CFM) and look around the area and see the patch of land he wanted me to shoot for, glide to it, do my restart checks, etc. We went through this about 3 or 4 times, and each time I would have made the field had it been a real event.

Where I had trouble, however, was remembering the passenger briefing and mayday calls. Given time i was able to recall them, but in the heat of the moment, my brain was simply too full, and those were the things that had to give. No worries though, Aviate, Navigate, Communicate – 2 outta 3 ain’t bad 🙂 I am pretty sure with practice I will get the bulk of it down in muscle memory and have capacity in reserve for the finer points.

All up, did 2.1 hours and I have almost 15 out of the required 20. Since I have not yet soloed, there is no way that I will get it done in the 20, but that is just a minimum and it isn’t a race. If I had time and money to just knock it all out in a month, perhaps I could have. But this way, I have had experience training during all 4 seasons and various temperatures and wind conditions.

As a nice bonus, my instructor told me that this was the best flying I have ever done. I had to confess that I thought this might be due to spending a few hours on Microsoft Flight Sim X!  He laughed and said that he also uses that for practice.

Next up, engine failure in the circuit and after takeoff!

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