All posts tagged 'Flying' - Page 11

10 Things to Do at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh

Headed to EAA AirVenture Oshkosh this year? Here's a rundown of some of the must-see aircraft and events!

  1. View the action on the Ultralight Runway. At the south end of the airport, you can sit back and relax while watching powered parachutes, powered gliders, light sport aircraft and other ultralights fly around each morning and night. You'll also see hot air balloons and home-built rotorcraft.
  2. Help build the One Week Wonder airplane and sign the logbook as a builder. The aircraft, a Zenith CH 750, is a kit plane that Oshkosh staff hopes will showcase how a plane can be built easily and affordably. The aircraft will be built over the course of seven days at EAA AirVenture 2014.
  3. Watch the Rockwell Collins Night Air Show and fireworks display. This one's a no-brainer. Who would want to miss performances from some of the best air show performers in the world, especially when pyrotechnics are involved? There's an impressive fireworks display at the end of each night air show.
  4. Take an EAA Selfie and post it to Twitter using the official AirVenture selfie hashtag, #EAASelfie. And don't forget to tag us @GlobalAir!
  5. Visit the Fly Market for the latest and greatest aviation accessories, gadgets and technology! This is a great place to pick up those flight supplies you've been wanting, grab some swag, and enter to win drawings at the booths of various aviation companies.
  6. Tip your hat to veterans after the Old Glory Honor Flight returns. After the air show on August 1st, a group of veterans will return from visiting memorials in Washington, D.C. on a Boeing 737. This is your chance to stand among thousands of others and salute them as they return "home" - a welcome home party they deserve!
  7. Dust off your flight bag at the "Rusty Pilot" seminar. Don't we all need a refresher? If you haven't flown in a while, chances are good that you'll be inspired to get back in the air while you're at Oshkosh. Naturally, one of your first stops should be the AOPA Rusty Pilot Seminar. It's the perfect way to brush up on your skills, including a rundown of what you've missed and what's changed within the past few years that you've been away. Bonus: Breakfast will be provided!
  8. Learn how to pass your checkride… or how to build an airplane…or how to buy an airplane…or how to build a hangar…or how to lean an engine….or how to take better pictures… you get the picture!
  9. Try your hand at "flying" the F-35 simulator/cockpit display. F-35 instructors will be on hand to demonstrate the abilities of the newest fighter jet with the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Cockpit Display.
  10. Stop by the Globalair.com booth! Have we met before? Stop by and meet your hard-working GlobalAir team! We'll be in Hangar D, Booth 4028.

What are you looking forward to most at Oshkosh this year? Let us know in the comments!

Lessons Learned: What Pilots Wish They'd Known

Just for fun, I asked the pilots of Reddit what they wished they'd known as a student pilot. They came through, with answers that were insightful, useful and some of them, funny.

Here's a list of things that pilots wish they'd known during flight training, coupled with a lot of good advice for new student pilots. (To see the full list, check out the Reddit thread here.) According to the flying aces of Reddit, every student pilot should know:

  1. How to get fuel at a self-serve pump: For some pilots, a lesson in self-serve fuel may come long after a private pilot check ride. It can be embarrassing when you realize the FBO is closed and the only fuel option available is self-serve - and you don't really know how to do it. New students can prevent this embarrassment by getting hands-in instruction from someone who's been there before.
  2. What water-contaminated fuel looks like: This one's easy. Just fill up the GATS jar with fuel, then take it inside and add water, and then you'll know! But you'd be surprised at how many pilots have no idea what to look for when it comes to fuel contamination, or what to do when they find water or sediment in fuel during the preflight.
  3. What to do when you have a flat tire: A flat or low tire can be a huge bummer, especially when you're away from your home field. And for some pilots, the first flat tire experience leaves them wondering just what they should do next, and wishing they has asked about this situation before hand.
  4. How to start a hot engine: Starting a hot engine, especially a fuel-injected engine, can be tricky. Hot start procedures are best learned through a demonstration by a qualified instructor or fellow pilot instead of when you're stuck on the ground at an unfamiliar airport.
  5. That you probably won't fly as often as you'd like: With weather delays, maintenance delays and scheduling issues, your flight training might take longer than expected. Expect it.
  6. That you can talk to air traffic controllers like they're human: Yes, there are actual human bodies behind those robot-like voices. Take a tour of your local control tower to see for yourself. And, you don't always have to talk to controllers like they're robots. They speak regular old English, just like you.
  7. That actual IMC experience is invaluable: Get some.
  8. That VMC conditions can look and feel like IMC at night over water: See number seven.
  9. That making friends with an A&P is valuable: Having an A&P mechanic friend or mentor will mean you'll be able to watch them work on airplanes, ask them questions about systems, and learn the ins and outs of your airplane. You'll be a better pilot when you fully understand the airplane's systems.
  10. To make sure the FBO will be open: Almost every pilot has a story to tell about landing at an airport after hours, unable to get fuel or access a computer. It happens to the best of us. Check the hours before you plan a flight. (You can find FBO information at Globalair.com's Airport Resource Center.)
  11. To be prepared to change course, in more ways than one. Be prepared for anything, from unforecast weather, a diversion, a runway closure, and those pesky emergency situations you practiced so much. Your route to becoming a skilled pilot will rarely be a straight one!

178 Seconds to Live: A Personal Account of Spatial Disorientation


As a flight instructor, I've always considered myself to be a safe pilot. Bad weather? Not flying. Under the weather? We'll cancel.

So when I found myself in a real-life VFR-into-IFR scenario, I actually wondered how it could happen to me. I was able to get my bearings that night, but not all pilots are so lucky.

I'd always heard about this "VFR into IMC" phenomenon and how bad it was, but I was always under the impression that I wouldn't need to worry about it. After all, if a pilot gets a proper preflight weather briefing, why in earth would he or she fly into bad weather?

The day I flew VFR into IMC was a definitely a lesson in weather and personal minimums and hazardous attitudes, but for me, it was also a blunt reality check. I had comfortably flown hundreds of hours in the Cessna 172, I had a lot of night time, cross country time, multi-engine time, IFR time, and apparently just enough instructor time for me to get slightly over-confident.

I was about to take two private pilot students up for a night flight when I realized I wasn't night current. I decided to start up the Cessna 172 and do my three full-stop take offs and landings before the students arrived. I checked AWOS first, and noted that the temperature/dew point spread was close - within three degrees- but a look at the clouds and sky told me it was a beautiful night.

During the first turn in the pattern I noted that the clouds were, indeed, lowering, and that maybe I should pay closer attention to the temperature and dew point. But it was the second take off that provided the reality check I apparently needed.

I turned crosswind, staying at about 800 feet AGL instead of the usual 1000 feet. I could see the ground, the buildings and lights, but was skimming the bottom of the clouds, and at one point went into IMC. Although brief, it was enough to disorient me. In what I suppose was an attempt to stay below the clouds, I had inadvertently commenced a turning descent during the crosswind turn.

I didn't notice until maybe a minute or two later, when I began a turn downwind and heard the sound of increased engine RPM. It sounded as though I'd increased power, but a quick check of the throttle indicated I hadn't. I knew something wasn't right. The engine sounded louder, faster. Thankfully, my brain was quick enough to tell my body that I was in a descent, headed quickly toward a "controlled flight into terrain" scenario that I'd read about in accident reports.

I was able to land safely that night but not every pilot is as lucky as I was.

An FAA publication from 1993 describes a study in which 20 student pilots flew simulators into instrument weather and all of them "went into graveyard spirals or roller-coaster like oscillations." The time until loss of control after entering IMC varied between 20-240 seconds, with the average being 178 seconds.

This harrowing video made by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) shows a common scenario in which a pilot might only have 178 seconds to live after flying VFR into IMC. It's a somber reminder for all of us flying around out there:


Source: 178 Seconds to Live: Spatial Disorientation can be a Killer, by Verdon Kleimenhagen, Ron Keones and James Szajkovics of FAA, and Ken Patz of MN/DOT Office of Aeroanutics, FAA Aviation News, January/February 1993.

Aircraft Spins 101


Photo: H. Rabb/Wikimedia
As mentioned in my previous article on stalls, accidents that occur due to stall/spin scenarios are more fatal than others. According to an AOPA study, stall/spin accidents have a fatality rate of about 28 percent, higher than the overall average fatality rate of 20 percent.

A spin occurs when an airplane stalls in an uncoordinated or aggravated state. If a recovery is not initiated after an uncoordinated stall occurs, the wing that is more stalled than the other will drop and the nose will follow into a spiraling descent. The aircraft will descend rapidly in a corkscrew motion.

According to the Jeppesen Private Pilot Manual, a small airplane will descend about 500 feet for each turn in a spin, so there's not much altitude or time available for a recovery in many cases. Considering stalls and spins often occur at low altitudes to begin with, it's clear why the fatality rate is higher for these accidents.

Stages of a Spin
The FAA has outlined three stages for spins in light aircraft: incipient, fully developed and recovery.

  • Incipient: The incipient phase of a spin is the stall and spin entry, up to about 2 turns in the spin.
  • Fully Developed: When the airspeed and rotation stabilize, the spin is considered fully developed.
  • Recovery: Recovery occurs when the pilot applies rudder and aileron inputs to counter the spin and the aircraft regains lift and control function. Once the inputs are initiated to stop the spin, the aircraft can usually recover in less than one spin.

Types of Spin

  • Erect Spin: Erect spins are the most common type of spin, occurring when the aircraft rolls and yaws in the same direction and the aircraft is upright and in a slightly nose-down attitude.
  • Inverted Spin: An inverted spin occurs when the aircraft spins upside down and yaw and roll occurs in opposite directions.
  • Flat Spin: Getting its name from the flat-like pitch attitude, the flat spin occurs when the aircraft spins at a level pitch attitude around the vertical axis as a result of a yawing motion alone. Flat spins are the most difficult to recover from (and just as difficult to enter in some aircraft!)

 

Spin Recovery
Spin recovery should be initiated at the first sign of a spin. Recovery procedures are specific to the aircraft flown and are found in the pilot operating handbook of each aircraft. In light aircraft, the spin recovery procedures follow a typical pattern and can be remembered by the common acronym PARE.

P - Power: The throttle should be moved to the idle position to reduce thrust.
A - Ailerons: Ailerons should be neutralized.
R - Rudder : Full opposite rudder input should be applied until the rotation is stopped. If the aircraft is rotating to the left, right rudder should be applied. Once the spinning stops, the rudder should be neutralized.
E - Elevator: Quick forward pressure should be applied to break the stall and gain airflow over the wings. Once the aircraft gains lift, back pressure should be applied gradually so as not to stall again.

Training aircraft are stable by design. They're meant to recover from unusual attitudes without much external control input from the pilot. A Cessna 172, for example, is actually somewhat difficult to perform an intentional spin in. But this doesn't mean that pilots of training aircraft are immune to spins.

While intentional spins are not always demonstrated during training, stall and spin awareness should always be emphasized with flight students. Many pilots tend to become confident in stall recovery, but all pilots would be wise to remain familiar with spin entry characteristics and recovery procedures for their specific aircraft.

How Well Do You Know Your Stalls & Spins?


Image: Theresa Knott/Wikimedia Commons

For new flight students and passengers, an aircraft stall can often be a source of fear. What is a stall? Will the airplane fall out of the sky? Does the engine quit?

And while stalls shouldn't be something that pilots fear, they should be taken seriously. Aircraft stalls and spins remain a leading cause of general aviation accidents - causing ten percent of general aviation accidents, according to one AOPA study. And stall/spin accidents result in more fatalities than other types of aircraft accidents. Private and commercial pilots are most likely to enter a stall, while student pilots and ATPs are less likely to stall, according to AOPA.

A 2012 advisory circular claims that loss of control accidents are a growing problem and that inappropriate reactions to stall indications are part of that problem.

What's a Stall?
Let's start with the basics. For those of you non-pilots, you need to know that an aircraft stall has absolutely nothing to do with the engine (unless we're talking about compressor stalls - an entirely different topic). Instead, an aircraft stalls when the airflow over the wing is disrupted enough to cause a loss of lift.

Stalls are dangerous because control surfaces become inadequate to control the flight, and if a recovery is not initiated, the aircraft will quickly lose altitude. And then there's that deadly spin: If uncoordinated, a stall can develop into a spin.

The FAA defines an aircraft stall as "an aerodynamic loss of lift caused by exceeding the airplane’s critical angle of attack."

The critical angle of attack is the key phrase here. The angle of attack is the angle between the chord line of the wing (an imaginary line running from the leading edge of the wing to the trailing edge) and the relative wind. The critical angle of attack is the angle at which maximum lift is produced. An increase in the angle of attack beyond the max coefficient of lift results in a loss of lift, airflow separation over the wing and a subsequent stall.

An aircraft can stall at various airspeeds, altitudes, pitch attitudes, configurations and weights. But the critical angle of attack must be exceeded for a stall to occur.

Types of Stalls

  • Power on stall: A power-on stall occurs during situations in which the aircraft power or thrust is increased quickly, such as during takeoff. Power on stalls usually occur (not always) with gear and flaps up.

  • Power off stall: Power off stalls occur when the aircraft power is decreased or at idle, such as during landing. Power-off stalls tend to occur with gear and flaps down.

  • Elevator trim stall: If the pilot disregards the elevator trim setting, any abrupt change in power or configuration can initiate a stall. This can happen easily during takeoff or go-arounds, when the aircraft trim tab is adjusted for the descent and a go-around is initiated. The aircraft can pitch up quickly and unexpectedly to a high angle of attack.

  • Cross controlled stall: A cross-controlled stall is one of the most dangerous types, as it's an uncoordinated stall and easily transitions to a spin. A cross-controlled stall occurs when the pilot inputs aileron control in one direction and rudder pressure in the opposite direction. Cross controlled stalls are known to occur during turns in the traffic pattern.

  • Accelerated stall: When excessive loads are placed on the airplane (such as during steep turns), an aircraft is capable of stalling at a higher airspeed and/or a lower pitch attitude than the pilot might be accustomed to.

  • Secondary stall: Secondary stalls occur if a pilot attempts to recover from a stall too quickly by pitching up to recover from the dive before obtaining an appropriate airspeed and generating enough lift.

  • Deep stall: Also called a super stall, the deep stall happens in T-tail aircraft, like this Piper Lance II or this King Air 350. It occurs when the airflow over the wing is disrupted and airflow over the tail of the aircraft is also disrupted, rendering both the ailerons and elevator/rudder ineffective at the same time. In a deep stall, recovery is difficult and sometimes, impossible.

Spins
An uncoordinated stall can result in a spin. According to the FAA Airplane Flying Handbook, a spin is an aggravated stall that results in autorotation - a downward corkscrew motion.

The spin is a result of one wing being at a higher angle of attack than the other, often descried as one wing being "more stalled than the other." The difference in angles of attack creates lift on the less stalled wing and drag on the more stalled wing.

Spins are more difficult to recover from, as altitude is lost very quickly and control surfaces may react different than the pilot expects, which is why it's important for pilots to continuously practice stall and spin recovery.

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