All posts tagged 'Cessna'

What To Do If You Have a Bird Strike

Last month I gave some tips on how to conquer summertime flying. It's hot outside, performance is decreased, the weather isn't always the best, etc. 

Well, there's one topic we didn't really discuss, and that's...

BIRDS.

Cue the dramatic music. Because they're EVERYWHERE.

Since the last post, within the past two weeks, I've had two bird strikes while instructing. Neither were catastrophic, but each one cut our flight short (so more just inconvenient).

Here's what happened each time:

Pictured above is from the first bird strike incident. A student and I were doing some laps in the pattern and were all too familiar with dodging birds from earlier lessons. So when we saw a small bird coming at us we didn't panic, just tried to curve to the side and avoid it. 

At first, it seemed we were in the clear until we heard a "ding" sound from the left side. We looked at each other then looked back at the strut and gear to see where it hit but couldn't see anything. BUT, we heard it, and even though we weren't 100% sure where it hit we decided to just make a full stop. 

After shutting down on the ramp we saw where it hit the strut. Mechanics verified our inspection and no damage was done!

Now bird strike number 2: this one was a little more dramatic (and kind of funny if you have terrible humor like me). 

Instead of a Cessna, a different student and I were in our SR20 who we named "Sherman." Don't judge, it's a great plane and therefore needed a great name! Anywho, Sherman, myself, and the student were just cleared for takeoff and started bringing the power in. As the engine instruments and airspeed were being checked we saw a black shadow hit our windshield and roll off. So, power was brought back and as we kept positive control of the plane we notified tower we had a possible bird strike and needed to taxi off to shutdown. Once approved we taxied off and shutdown as soon as possible. That's where we found some blood on the cowling...it didn't just hit the windshield.

So, I called tower back and said we'd need a tow back to the hangars. While we waited we obviously had to document the incident with a selfie! I knew this would be going on the blog too after the second time, so I wanted to capture the proof. After we got our tow back mechanics checked the engine and verified yet again no structural damage, and Sherman was back on the flight line. 

So, I know one thing you might be thinking: why did they shutdown for a bird strike? 

In both incidents, I wasn't 100% sure where the bird hit. And even then, I can't see just from the cockpit what possible damage the hit caused. Bird strikes can be kind of funny like in our selfie moment, but they can also be as serious as the famous Sully on the Hudson River case. I know another instructor who had a bird strike and kept flying because "it was fine" and later landed to find a huge dent in the flap. Even in terms of structural damage, what if it strikes the wing and ruptures a fuel tank? It's okay to be too safe and cautious in these cases. 

In the case of a bird strike, here's what to do:

  • - Try to pinpoint where the bird hit so you can estimate what kind of structural damage may have been caused, and have a game plan set to counteract any problems that could have come from it.
  • - Land as soon as possible. You can't see everything from the cockpit and there may be damage unseen to you. 
  • - Be cautious, but never panic. I can't stress this enough, don't stress!! This is when your flying will be negatively affected. 
  • - Report the bird strike. You won't get in trouble, birds can be impossible to avoid in many cases so it's likely not your fault. Report it to a controller if you're in controlled airspace or other pilots if you're at an uncontrolled field. 
  • - Do a thorough inspection after landing and shutdown, but also have a mechanic verify it before releasing it back to fly. 
  • - After landing, report it to the FAA on the FAA Wildlife Strike Database. This is used for collecting statistics and understanding how we can mitigate further incidents. 

Bird strikes usually have a minuscule impact on the flight, but imagine other cases where they come through the windshield and have even hit the pilot(s). That's a scary thought, but at the end of the day, you just have to FLY THE PLANE. Never panic, maintain control, and fly like you were taught too.

In other news, don't forget about the annual Globalair.com Scholarship! Applications close this month on August 15th. We'll be picking two recipients to help further their flight training towards a professional pilot career. 

Questions or comments to add to this article? Post below!

Concepts to Think About When Using Flaps

A hilarious but actually really important concept featured above in this meme. I can't say how many times a student has done this with me in the plane on a go around, once about 8 feet above the runway where I had to immediately take controls to avoid slamming back in the pavement. 

If I could create a national movement about bringing flaps up in increments always, I would. I'd be extra dramatic and have t-shirts made, posters, a Facebook group...the whole 9 yards. 

But, let's talk about some concepts here. WHY is it dangerous for flaps to be brought up or down all at once???

Flaps serve several purposes for flying and can affect the plane in multiple ways:

  1. they change the camber of the wing, so when you bring them down they increase lift
    1. because they're changing the camber they also decrease stall speed (therefore it becomes harder to stall the plane)
  2. although they increase lift, drag is also increased
  3. when coming in to land, descent angle is increased without increasing airspeed
  4. as flaps are brought up, lift and drag are decreased back to normal

Pictured below is the concept of descent angle using flaps:

In all 3 scenarios constant airspeed and constant power is kept (so the nose isn't pushed down more to compensate, and power is also not taken out) and as more flaps are added the plane is able to reach the runway at an earlier touchdown point.

All of this is taken into account in the factor of why we teach to never just put in or take out all of your flaps at once.

To simplify these terms, let's say that we're coming in to land on final. You realize on short final you forgot to put in any flaps so you hit the switch to put them all down. If flaps increase lift, this means your nose is going to pop up and you're going to have to counteract it by pushing back down. BUT because it increased that lift in that time span, now you're going to land farther down the runway because it increased your altitude! This is an important concept to avoid, however a trick where you can use this to your advantage is if you lost your engine and need an extra 40-50 feet to make your landing point. Dump all the flaps in at once! Practice a power off 180 in the pattern one day and don't put in any flaps until short final, them dump them all in and you'll see what this does. It's actually very cool. 

Now let's say we're coming in to land and about 10 feet above the runway (so pretty low) another plane crosses the runway in front of us. If we continue the landing, bad things happen so therefore we execute a go around.

On the go around our steps are:

-full power

-carb heat off (if carb heat was on)

-ONE knotch of flaps comes up

-wait for positive rate of climb (+VSI), then 2nd and 3rd knotches of flaps come out in increments.

The reason this happens is because let's say we're on our very initial climb out above the runway and I hit all the flaps to come up at once. All that lift is immediately lost, therefore the nose sinks down. You can counteract this by pulling the yoke back of course but it has to be at such a fast right that you'll stall. So, if you execute a go around the WRONG WAY like this then basically you'll come back down to a not-so-soft touchdown on the runway. 

For all the readers out there who have seen Surf's Up (the world's best Disney movie) and remember Chicken Joe, think to yourself to be like Chicken Joe when you fly. For those who have not seen it....I'm sorry for what you're missing. Chicken Joe is always very relaxed, never panics, and does everything smooth when he surfs. On a go around when you're reaching for that flap switch to bring it straight up, think about Chicken Joe. What would Chicken Joe do? He'd be smooth and take them out in increments. Be like Chicken Joe.

To conclude everything, flaps have multiple functions and affects on the aerodynamics of the airplane. Understand these concepts before you use them, because if you don't understand what's happening then you could be putting yourself in danger. 

Always fly smooth, never panic when you fly, and no matter what maintain positive control of the airplane. This is what makes safe pilots. 

For those sitting at home waiting out this pandemic, itching to fly again, check out the other posts and features on our home page for some interesting reads. Stay safe out there and to our fellow pilots, the industry is only going to get better after the pandemic is over. Keep your heads up!

Questions and/or comments? Let us know below!

Counteracting a Bad Landing

How to counteract and prevent a rough landing:

Go around. That's it. That's the whole post.

Just kidding! Somewhat....

Okay we've all had those days where we landed the plane so rough that we just taxied back in silence and thoroughly inspected the landing gear afterwards. In fact, my student and I had one yesterday so bad that we ended up popping the left main gear tire. It happens! You live and you learn. So let's talk about it.

First things first: set up for a good approach by having a good traffic pattern. Get your 'before landing' checklist done BEFORE getting established in the pattern. That's part of staying ahead of the plane. The less you're having to rush and scramble to make sure everything is complete, the better your odds are of being ready and stable.

Bad Landings

                                       KEFD 2/28/2020

In the picture above we're getting ready to land on 35L at Ellington, so we're entering at a 45 degree right downwind. By this point, all the 'before landing' items were done and our passenger briefing was complete so we could focus on the actual landing.

The second thing is to fly the actual traffic pattern. By this I mean take it back to your rectangular course maneuver: if there are winds, then establish the proper crabbing correction to actually hold your downwind, base, etc. If you're fighting winds the whole time and getting too close or too far from the runway, then by the time you turn final, you won't be lined up with centerline. 

Now, when you actually turn final, work to maintain centerline the WHOLE TIME (not just as you're coming into flare) and fight for the right glide slope. What if you're too high? Don't accept it and chop some power out. If you're too low, add power in. If there is a PAPI or VASI lighting system then make yourself hold the red and white colors. The main thing about being on final is not to accept anything that isn't "perfect" and fight to get the airplane where you want it to be. 

You keep descending on final and now it's getting time to flare: the key part. Don't start the flare too low and especially not too early because you have the danger of stalling too high. Know your plane and know when to flare it. Obviously, something like a C-130 won't flare at the same time as a C172. For the sake of this post and discussing flight training, we'll pretend we're flying a typical GA plane like the C172.

Don't flare until you're about 10 feet about the runway. This is when you transition your eyes from your landing point to the end of the runway and start working the nose up and power out. Remember, the goal is to have the nose wheel touchdown as late as possible. I've found the most common mistakes are that people don't pull the yoke/stick back far enough and the nose wheel hits first, and they jerk the controls rather than smoothly pull it back. Part of a smooth landing is always being smooth with your controls. SMOOTHLY work that nose up and keep pulling until the plane touches down. For the most part, your yoke/stick should be pulled almost all the way back. After the side wheels touch down, just hold the controls and easily start relaxing them to let the nose wheel come down on its own. 

Let's say you do this and still balloon or bounce. What do you do?

That's easy: GO AROUND. Every single time you should execute a go-around because you don't know how hard your second touchdown will be. 

Stepping away from my CFI role and preaching about go-arounds, we all know we'll have those days where we still try and stick with the landing. If it's a small and very minor balloon, hold the controls where they are and then as the plane comes back down go back to pulling back SMOOTHLY again and you should have a nice touchdown (again this is for a balloon that's small and under about 8 feet). 

If you bounce 9/10 times, it's because you hit all 3 wheels at once rather than the nose wheel last so keep pulling back until your nose is up more. Again, this is only for a minor bounce under a few feet. If the plane bounces back up really high, throw in the power and GO AROUND. 

I can't preach go-arounds enough. They not only give you another chance at trying to grease the landing, but they can also save the plane from being damaged. 

The last and most important thing aside from pitch attitude in the flare is airspeed. Watch your airspeed and know your Vref. Let's say Vref is 70kts and you look down, having not even flared yet you're at 60kts. You know what will happen? An early stall and a rough touchdown. Now, let's say the airspeed is at 80kts rather than 70kts. This time you'll float and have the danger of running out of runway before being able to touchdown and bring the plane to a stop. 

Landing is a game of airspeed and altitude. Once you get these down, then get the pitch attitude where it needs to be in the flare. Whenever you get a really smooth and soft landing, look up and take a mental picture of where your nose is in relation to the horizon. THAT'S what you want to work for every single time. 

There's a lot to talk about with landings so you can expect more blog posts on them in the future, but I covered all the basic things that'll keep you safe and smooth. 

Have any tips to add? Feel free to contribute below!

Until next time, Happy Landings!

Transitioning Between Low and High Wing Planes in Primary Flight Training

As a flight instructor at a school with both low and high wing planes, I've found that students ranging from pre-solo private to commercial have issues with swapping between planes. It's not that they have issues in flying the planes, but it's trying to get them to learn to fly in both rather than just one type.

To go more in-depth, for example, most people prefer either the Grumman Cheetahs or Tigers or the Cessna 172s. If they've flown in one type but not the other, it's almost a battle to get them to jump in the other type. I've found this is due to a confidence issue. While they don't admit it, it's because they know how to fly one type of plane and don't think they will be successful in another so they don't even want to try. 

So, let's talk about some of the main differences between the planes starting from preflight to landing.

Believe it or not, most general aviation planes almost all fly the same. Going back to the example of a Grumman verse a Cessna, these planes fly almost exactly the same even when it comes to landing. They are not two completely different worlds, and in fact, I tell my students the more planes you can fly, the better off you are for a check ride and the better skills you develop for real-world flying! It makes you a better pilot. 

On a typical Cessna, you lower the flaps on preflight all the way down and then bring them up after engine start. In-flight you bring the flaps down in 10-degree increments and can bring the first notch down outside of the white arc (Vfe) range on the airspeed indicator. 

On a Grumman, you usually bring the flaps down then back up on a run-up/before takeoff check. Still in increments, however, it's a switch by your leg rather than by the yoke and you HAVE to be within the Vfe range in-flight to even lower the first 10 degrees. 

The next "big" difference between low and high wing planes is the visual sight picture when you look outside: the wings are in different places!

Whether you're doing ground reference maneuvers or entering the pattern to land, you use the same area on the plane to look outside and measure the distance. On a high wing, you place your marker about 3/4th the way up the wing strut. On the low wing planes, just use the wingtip (because after all, it's not like you can see below the wing this time). This sounds like it may be a huge factor, but give it 2 minutes and you're used to the change in the new plane. Trust me on this. 

The last change: landings.

Again, either put your wing tip or top of the wing strut on the runway as you enter downwind and there's your sight picture! Bring your flaps and power back as set by the POH and keep your descent coming along with the proper speeds (also set by the POH). If you can get a stabilized approach, most GA planes will land the same here: main wheels touch down first and nosewheel last. Pitch attitude will be similar, again especially with the Grummans and Cessnas, and by the time you touchdown airspeed will have bled off appropriately and your yoke will be almost all the way back. 

If you're reading this because you're in flight training and needing to swap between model planes due to maintenance/availability issues, don't be upset. It's going to develop better skills for you in flying and the planes will likely fly almost identical so don't sweat it! 

Have any more tips to add to help someone in flight training who's having to swap between the two types? Comment below!

Happy Landings,

-Addi

High-Wing Vs. Low-Wing Aircraft

One of the first things an aspiring pilot learns is that not all aircraft are created equal. At least, not in the eyes of other pilots. It doesn’t take very many conversations with a pilot to find out exactly what type of aircraft they love and hate. Some pilots have good reasons for preferring one type over another, while others just have a soft spot for a certain type they trained in or became infatuated with.

The disagreements cover a variety of aircraft types. Tailwheel verses nose gear, retractable versus fixed gear, G1000 versus the historic six-pack. Each of these has been debated between pilots for years and I’m sure they will continue to be debated. Another popular category is high-wing verses low-wing aircraft. I personally have a preference for high-wing, as the vast majority of my flight time has been in Cessna 172s and a Stinson 10A.

I was curious what the general consensus was on where the best location for the wings is, so I took to the Internet and… Found no clear answer. It seems that there are pros and cons to both configurations, and it almost always boiled down to preference over hard facts. I have compiled a few major things to consider if you are in the scenario where you must choose between a high-wing or low-wing aircraft.

Visibility

Visibility was one of the first things pilots commented on when debating between the two. High-wing aircraft simply give pilot and passengers a better view of the sky around them and ground below them. They are ideal for an introduction flight, cruising around for fun, or flying on missions that require a clear view of the ground. Low-wing aircraft offer outstanding views of the world above the cockpit, but the wings can block anything below.

Accessibility

When fueling on the ground, it is usually much easier to access the tanks on a low-wing aircraft. Most high-wing fuel tanks require standing on a ladder to reach. However, the flip side of this is that it is more difficult to reach the fuel drains and visually inspect the underside of the wing on a low-wing aircraft.

Ground Clearance

Pilots of low-wing aircraft have to be more conscientious of any obstacles on the ground. This includes taxiway lights, tie-downs, and airport signage. The high-wing pilot still has to watch out, but has the ease of knowing their wings are not in such close proximity.

Safety

In the event of an emergency landing, low-wing aircraft have the advantage of being able to absorb some of the crash impact in the wings instead of the fuselage. They also help in the event of a water landing, having the potential to float above the water for a short period of time.

Some pilots love having shade under their wings on a hot summer day. Other pilots prefer being able to set maps or logbooks on the wing during preflight. Some pilots hate having to walk on the wing to get into the aircraft.

At the end of the day, there is no clear winner. It seems that it mostly comes down to personal preference and familiarity with the type of aircraft. Do you prefer high-wing or low-wing? What do you think makes one better than the other? Let me know in the comments below!

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