Flight Lesson 12: More Pattern Work

Today Tom and I stayed in the KCDW pattern and did some regular touch and go’s along with lessons on how to land without flaps (simulated flap failure), without power (simulated engine failure), and without airspeed readings (airspeed measuring system failure).  The pattern flown was right traffic for runway 22.

During the initial pattern circuit, Tom gave me a general rule of thumb that after initiating a descent when abeam the numbers, I should descend about 200 feet below the pattern altitude before making the turn to base.

After a few standard touch and go’s we tried landing without flaps.  Since flaps help you slow down and allow you to descend steeper, you need to compensate for their absence by doing the following:

  • Keep the nose up at a high enough pitch to slow down to the standard approach speed.  Keep in mind that without flaps, your stall speed is higher than with flaps
  • Power still controls altitude.  You’re still in the region of reverse command (behind the power curve)
  • Just before touchdown, transition back to a nose down altitude
  • Level out and flare just like a normal landing

We also did a few short field approaches in order to simulate engine failures.  We did the following to handle this:

  • Spin the trim wheel to the full nose up position (spin the wheel towards the floor as far as it can go).  This is a trick to help you establish the best glide speed (75 mph)
  • Find the best landing spot.  In our case, this was the runway
  • Add flaps incrementally when you are assured to reach the field
  • If this was an actual emergency and there was no time to attempt an engine restart, the fuel system would be secured (fuel selector to off, mixture to cutoff) and the electrical system shutoff (master and mags off) after flaps are deployed

In order to simulate failure of the airspeed reading system, Tom put a cover over the airspeed dial so I couldn’t read it.  You can manage a landing by:

  • Remembering that pitch controls airspeed.  With power set to the initial descent setting of 1500 RPM, as long as you trim for four fingers between the horizon and the dashboard, you should be close to the approach airspeed

Some other general things Tom had to remind me of:

  • Applying crosswind correction before and after takeoff (aileron into the wind)
  • Only attempt to touchdown if you’re aligned with the runway center-line
  • On a touch and go, finish the landing before trying to takeoff again.  This means being aligned with the runway center-line and making sure flaps are retracting

Tom also told me only attempt to do a forward slip when in a nose down attitude and never attempt to do one if the plane is buffeting.  I’m thinking that this is because of a greater likelihood to stall and enter a spin?  I’ll have to ask Tom about this.

I’m making an effort to not focus on the PAPI for height and glide slope information and instead am trying to focus on the keeping the “numbers” in a constant place in the windscreen and outside visual references.

At the end of the lesson in the office, Tom gave me two take home exams to complete:  A C172 written exam and Student Pilot Pre-Solo written exam.  My solo flight is in sight!  According to Tom, the following is the pathway towards my solo:

  1. Complete the written exams to demonstrate I have knowledge of the aircraft and rules of flight necessary to safely operate the aircraft by myself.
  2. Go up with Tom to go over all maneuvers needed to safely fly (power on/off stalls, slow flight, touch and go’s, etc.) to a proficient enough manner to demonstrate I won’t get myself killed.
  3. Take a pre-solo checkride with Tomoharu to confirm my knowledge of the basic maneuvers.
  4. Solo?

I’m really excited and am looking forward to this huge step in my progression as a pilot.