Note: I’ve moved my blog! You can find this post here.
Today was a day with great weather. We took off on Runway 22 at November. I’d never heard this before, and didn’t even know it was possible that ATC could tell you take off on a runway from a taxiway intersection. I read back the instructions improperly (I thought she said runway 28 via alpha november, where we usually take off, but she actually said 22 at november) and she corrected me, and after learning that you can indeed takeoff from a runway without taxiing to the beginning, we taxied over and took off.
After taking off, we did some power on/off stall practice and then while flying Tom pulled out the throttle and said “your engine just quit! What do you do?” So of course: the ABCDEFG checklist! I trimmed for 70-75 knots (best airspeed for gliding); found a landing spot–an open field ahead; and then spoke through the rest of the checklist. I remembered that the G means “gas tanks to off” but forgot it also means to put throttle full idle, mixture full lean, magnetos off, and master switch off.
I also practiced leaning out the mixture. The way you do this is to turn the mixture knob to the left (counter-clockwise) continuously until you see a drop in RPM. Then you turn it back to the right (clockwise) until you see the RPM rise again, and after that give it two more full turns to the right. This ensures that you’re not burning excess fuel and that you’re getting maximum fuel efficiency.
After that I learned steep turns, which are turns at 45 degrees while holding altitude and airspeed. After doing your clearing turns and you’re trimmed straight and level, pick out a landmark that you are heading towards to use as a visual cue and roll into the bank. In the Cessna 172s we train in, add one full wheel of trim at 30 degrees bank and another full wheel at 45 degrees. Then, hold the 45 degree turn while maintaining coordinated flight, within 10 knots of the starting airspeed, within 100 feet of starting altitude, and within 5 degrees of a 45 degree bank. Since you need to maintain altitude, you also need to apply back pressure–in a 45 degree banked turn you experience 1.4 G’s when you’re maintaining altitude. Once you’ve almost turned 360 degrees, level out at the original heading within 10 degrees. After that, do a steep turn in the opposite direction, following the same guidelines. Once you’ve done your left and right steep turns, reduce power to cruising (2200 RPM for our planes) and remove the two full wheels of trim you added during the start of the turns.
After this, we went over to Orange County Airport (KMGJ) to practice some landings in the traffic pattern. MGJ is an untowered airport, so you self-announce your actions and intentions on the CTAF (Common Traffic Advisory Frequency) and constantly monitor the frequency to remain aware of other traffic. We did a bunch of touch-and-go landings on Runway 21 and practiced flying in the traffic pattern. The biggest mistake I was making was forgetting to use my flaps (derp!) throughout the base and final legs of the pattern. Sometimes I would also not allow myself to descend and find myself too high on final. One of the landings was shoddy enough to require a go-around–so carb heat off, full power, first notch of flaps out immediately, and nose level; second notch of flaps when over 70 knots; and last notch when a positive rate of climb has been established.
After that, we flew back to Caldwell and took a few minutes to enjoy the sights on the nice day. There are some common landmarks we’ve been using throughout our flights:
- Greenwood Lake, which you can spot because of it’s long and narrow with two islands in the middle of the lake plus Greenwood Lake Airport (4N1) at the southern end of the lake. Coming from the north, it is just over a hilltop.
- Wanaque Reservoir, south of Greenwood Lake, which has a longer island inside of it closer to the north side.
- Lincoln Park Airport (N07), which is just north of the Class D airspace of Caldwell.
- Boonton Reservoir, which is a VFR waypoint for Caldwell and identifiable by the small lone island in the middle.
- Willowbrook Mall, which we used this flight as our reference point for lining up with runway 22 at Caldwell. It’s a cluster of white buildings to the north west of Caldwell, and you fly towards a point slightly to the north of them. Then you turn to Caldwell when you’re in line with the runway to put yourself onto a 3 mile final approach for runway 22.
As a followup after we parked the plane, we went over all of the checklists and steps for each flight procedure.
- Clearing turns
- Pre-maneuver checklist (LC-GUMPS: lights, carb heat, gas to both, undercarriage fixed in Cessna 172s, mixture full rich, propeller RPM to desired setting, and seatbelts set)
- RPM set to 1900 (we want to fly straight and level in slow flight, so we use 1900 and not 1700)
- First notch of flaps when less than 110 knots
- Full flaps when in the white arc
- Fly at 50 knots. You’ll likely need to increase power at this point since you’re “on the other side of the power curve” to maintain altitude. Carb heat will come off if you need to increase the RPM high enough that you are in the green arc.
Recovery from Slow Flight and Power Off Stalls
- Full power (applied over 2 seconds) and carb heat off
- First notch of flaps up immediately
- Hold the nose level to pick up airspeed
- Second notch of flaps come up when greater than 70 knots
- Last notch of flaps comes up once you’ve reached a positive rate of climb
Power Off Stalls
- Clearing turns and pre-maneuver checklist
- RPM to 1700; aim for 500 foot-per-minute descent at 70 knots
- Pull the power to idle
- Stall the plane
- When the nose dips, immediately recover using the list above; be careful not to induce a secondary stall.
Power On Stalls
- Clearing turns and pre-maneuver checklist
- RPM to 1300; fly level to reduce speed to 65 knots
- Carb heat off, apply full power
- Pitch for a stall
- When the nose dips, immediately center the nose on the horizon and pick up airspeed; be careful not to induce a secondary stall.
Now time to study these lists and aim to impress during the next lesson!