Monday, February 19, 2007

Pitch or Power?

Not flying anymore, so no new GPS tracks or flight statistics. I'm back to just reading about other people flying (sigh).

I came across a piece in the February issue of Aviation Safety. "Author Ray Leis' advice that glidepath corrections should be made as follows: "Pitch controls altitude and power is used to control airspeed."" Ray responds: "Why not fly the ILS in the same way the best designed autopilots do?"

I humbly disagree. I have found that for me, it is best to eliminate as many variables as possible. If I can make airspeed a constant (say trimmed at 90 kts), then if course is steady (sometimes a big if) then the only correction I need make is for rate of descent. I do this by adjusting power. Nose attitude holds the airspeed and subtle changes to the power setting can be used to get that 500 (or so) ft/min rate of descent.

If I'm low and fast (or high and slow), adjusting speed first with nose attitude is usually enough to stabilize the descent. Regardless, I always adjust for constant speed first. I first learned to fly precision approaches when all we had was a DG and a voice on the radio on a dark cloudy night, no needles. I was taught to get on speed, and wait until the controller said "Going slightly above glide slope". At that point I would reduce power to begin my descent. That's what works best for me.

Now, as to why not fly like an autopilot? Probably because I do better with one variable at a time, whereas the autopilot can handle many.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

A Door Closes

Subject: Resignation

Joe, Bob,

It is with deep regret that I must resign from participation in Superior Flight School/Flying Club. My wife and I have decided to relocate to north east Pennsylvania (KABE) for family reasons.

You have an outstanding company, and I seriously doubt I will be able to find a situation even closely comparable to what you have established at RYY. As you know, I fell in love with the Tiger, but also had some great experiences with 'the high wing wonders', and have had a great time learning to do wheel landings in the Decathlon. You have put together a wonderful staff, and I especially want to thank Andy for the hours he put in knocking off the decades of rust needed to give me back my confidence.

Thanks again for a simply fantastic experience.


Saturday, January 06, 2007

Back in the Air

I received this email while still on vacation in Pennsylvania:

"Just a quick note to let you know that the Decathlon, N5030G, has returned from its engine overhaul. Moose and Allison are completing the "break-in" process of the engine as we speak. We anticipate having it available for training this weekend."

Followed by this one a few days later:

"Please remember you have the following reservation on Saturday:

8KCAB N5030G beginning 01/06/07 10:00A until 01/06/07 11:30A"

The weather on Friday was horrible. A line of nasty stuff reaching from the gulf up through South Carolina blew through with heavy rain and a few whirlwinds. The forecast for Sunday was bad due to a cold front moving in from the northwest. Fortunately, Saturday was beautiful. We had light fog in the morning due to the unusually high temperatures (60s) that cleared off by mid-morning to reveal a beautiful blue sky. Visibility was better then 20 miles.

I got to airport before the CFI/owner, in time to get the Decathlon out of the hanger and start the preflight. I was nervous. It had been a long time since the last flight, and the airplane just didn't seem familiar to me. Plus, I was intimidated by my new instructor. I'm always a little nervous when someone I respect is looking over my shoulder. Humility is good for the soul. Once he arrived I briefed him on my plans to use his airplane. I was disappointed to find out that his insurance requires 100 hours tail wheel time before I can solo. Since my logbook still shows less then 50 hours, its unlikely that will happen this year. So, I need to decide what my new objectives will be.

Once I climbed into the airplane I got more comfortable. The CFI coached me through the start and the ground procedures went well. We decided to go over to Cartersville (VPC) to get away from the traffic at home. He discussed stick position while taxiing the plane in windy conditions. Run up was normal.

Tower advised "No Delay" on the takeoff due to traffic and we departed to the west. He briefed me on his preferred climb and cruise settings as we enjoyed the beautiful calm morning. VPC was busy too, with two already in the pattern and another two joining behind me. (I remembered why I don't like to fly on Saturdays.) My initial pattern was too wide, and my traffic extended too deep forcing me drag it in. The CFI asked for a 3 pointer. I failed to hold my corrections long enough to counter the crosswind which resulted in a slight skid on landing. Not my best. Full stop and a taxi back gave me time to appreciate what I had done, maybe a 5 or 6 after a 3 month layoff.

The next two weren't much better, but my comfort level soared. The airplane was becoming familiar again, and the CFI was becoming a new friend. I love flying.

I decided I could use some observation time, and asked for a wheel landing demonstrated at RYY. The CFI took the airplane and I sat back and watched (keeping eyes out for traffic.) Tower cleared us for a right downwind following traffic on final. As we turned base tower called traffic, a NORDO (No Radio) on left base. After a few s-turns and adept maneuvering he demonstrated a beautiful wheel landing. I learned a lot.

It was about 38 miles out to VPC, 25 miles back. We climbed to 3590 feet and reached 158 mph over the ground.

Time = 1.3