All posts tagged 'airplane'

Nailing Your Glide Slope on Final

Flying - Nailing the Glide Slope on Final

If you're anything like me when I was working on my private pilot certificate and struggling to hold a proper glide slope, then here's some tips for learning how to adjust and making your descent more consistent.

First things first, if there is a PAPI or VASI on the runway (like the one pictured above) then use it! Make yourself create what's called PAPI discipline. Don't accept seeing 4 white and stay being too high, and FOR SURE don't accept 4 red. "4 red you're dead" is an old saying, and it's a saying for a reason.

This isn't to say that every time you see 4 red you're in critical danger, but don't create a habit of accepting that and still continuing a descent or you may find out the hard way that you're far too low. Here's 2 pictures to help illustrate both a PAPI and VASI lighting system:

PAPI

VASI

When it comes to actually flying the plane, the trick is always airspeed. Transition from your final approach speed to touchdown speed and you'll grease the landing every time too. 

You'll always hear that there is 3 things a pilot controls: heading, airspeed and altitude. Heading is more simple in this case, use the ailerons and rudder hold runway centerline as you descend down. Have a crosswind? Use more! 

We then control airspeed with pitch, and altitude with power.

So let's say you're getting a reading of 4 white on the lights and you're 10 knots faster than what you should be. What do you do? Take out some power! Bring the throttle back a bit and let the altitude slowly start to decrease and bring the nose up slightly as well. When you're back on the glide path bring some power back in and keep watching that airspeed because it is so so important, especially as you move up to larger and faster planes.

Remember too to keep it smooth, normally it only takes small corrections to come back to where you need to be. In that previous example, if you immediately take out full power and abruptly jerk the nose up you'll descend quick and lose airspeed too fast and will go past what you were needing to correct. From going to being too high and fast, now you might be too low and too slow. Being too low and too slow kills good pilots, because you can stall the plane with little to no altitude to recover. 

It's always good to know how to conduct a proper forward slip too, especially when you're way too high and close to the runway. Take it from me, you won't turn on final and be exactly where you want to be every time so it's best to know how to correct. 

Make sure you have no flaps, take out power, keep your eye on a spot on the runway to touchdown down on, then get that rudder and ailerons in and start going down! Once you're coming up to where you want to be smoothly add the power back in as you take out rudder and ailerons. Then work with airspeed and power to grease that landing!

A good landing is all about knowing how to work the plane. You're always watching heading, airspeed and altitude and applying the proper corrections. If there is a PAPI/VASI there, use discipline and work to stay on the right glide path. 

Wondering where you can go practice some good landings at? Head over to our website and use the Airport Search Link to find an airport near you with an adequate runway. Be sure to comment any tips and tricks you have too or some good landing stories and stay tuned for the next post! 

 

 

 

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!

The Importance of WAAS/LPV

Don’t Let Less Than Ideal Conditions Ruin Your Approach
John Crabtree of Elliott Aviation, Avionics Manager
www.elliottaviation.com

Sometimes, one experience can change your entire perspective on flying. A few years ago, a Hawker 800 pilot relayed a story to me about WAAS LPV. The pilot had been requesting WAAS/LPV in their aircraft but had been denied his request because the aircraft owner saw it as a high cost with very little value. One business trip from Nashville to St. Louis changed the value seen in LPV.

The aircraft owners were flying in for a very important business meeting and planned to land at Lambert Field but the ILS was down and there was a very low ceiling. This forced the aircraft to divert to an airport many miles away. Meanwhile, the owner witnessed a Cirrus land right after their missed approach.

Because it was an unplanned arrival at a very small FBO, they had to wait for a car to become available and drive nearly an hour out of their way, missing their meeting. Needless to say, the owner was very upset that his mid-sized jet could not get into an airport while he witnessed a small piston aircraft land with ease. The owner scheduled a WAAS LPV system installation the following day.

WAAS (wide area augmentation system) and LPV (localizer performance with vertical guidance) is a system that uses satellites and ground-based radio systems to enhance GPS signals for the entire flight path of the aircraft, including approaches that can get you down to 200 feet. From an approach standpoint, the FAA’s most recent update (November 15, 2012) shows LPV approaches at 1,519 airports including 1,307 LPV’s to non-ILS airports. This flexibility can get you closer where you want to go.

Other benefits include cutting distances between airports, saving time and fuel because the aircraft does not have to follow routes based on ground based systems alone. It also allows safer flight at low altitudes because older system equipment is often blocked by terrain or elevation changes. Simply put, WAAS will get you to where you want to go faster, safer, and often times with less fuel.

John Crabtree oversees over 30 avionics technicians at Elliott Aviation’s headquarters in Moline, IL. Crabtree has 28 years of avionics experience that started in the US Navy where he was an Avionics Technician. He has worked on avionics systems with Gulfstream, Standard Aero and Hawker Beechcraft Services. As part of John’s current duties, he is leading one of the most successful avionics retrofit programs in history, Elliott Aviation’s industry-leading King Air Garmin G1000 retrofit program.

Elliott Aviation is a second-generation, family-owned business aviation company offering a complete menu of high quality products and services including aircraft sales, avionics service & installations, aircraft maintenance, accessory repair & overhaul, paint and interior, charter and aircraft management. Serving the business aviation industry nationally and internationally, they have facilities in Moline, IL, Des Moines, IA, and Minneapolis, MN. The company is a member of the Pinnacle Air Network, National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), National Air Transportation Association (NATA), and National Aircraft Resale Association (NARA).

Crop dusting - not for the faint of heart

Crop Dusting
J.D. Scarborough, a crop duster for 41 years, says that
although the profession is not as dangerous as it used to be,
he sometimes wonders why some of those he’s known have
been killed rather than him.
Story by: By Jim West
Albanyhearld.com




DAWSON -- American agriculture took a positive turn in August, 1921, when Lt. John A Macready sailed over an Ohio catalpa grove to dump a load of powdered lead arsenate on invading Catalpa Sphinx Moths.

By the end of his six-acre journey, Macready had become the world's first crop duster -- sometime know in modern times as aerial applicators. Among the early followers in this pioneer's dust trail would be a company called the Delta Dusters in Louisiana, later to become Delta Airlines.
The profession has come a long way since the early days of flight, as evidenced by larger, more powerful and efficient aircraft and computerized delivery systems. Despite the technical advancements, though, the planes continue to be flown by human pilots.

If you think you may be interested in a career as an aerial applicator look for a thrill park featuring rides imposing up to six intermittent "G's," or multiples of your own weight. There should be alternating short runs across uncertain terrain, eight to ten feet from the ground at speeds of 150 miles per hour. No tracks, no suspension cables. If you enjoy the ride, make sure your pilot's license is up to date then ask for an application.

J.D. Scarborough, 66, the sole aerial applicator for Ronnie Lee's RCL Flying Service in Dawson, has managed to survive his profession for 41 years, describing the work as "long periods of total boredom, sprinkled with periods of absolute terror." He was 25 when he started, he said, convinced by his uncle that flying was the way to go.

"I was a crane operator in Brunswick at the time," Scarborough said, "and I told (my uncle) I wasn't interested in flying. He finally got me to go out with him over the water to see some whales that were out there. I though that was just the coolest thing and it wasn't long before I was taking lessons."

It was about a year after that Scarborough's uncle was killed in a crop dusting accident," Scarborough said. There were others.

"This boy that was working with me -- I saw him when he went down," Scarborough said. "I got in the truck and ran over as quick as I could get there but he was completely burned up. It made me a lot more careful. It sure did."

Scarborough himself has crashed -- or nearly so "a few times," he said, from running out of gas (just once), engine failure or snagging power lines.

"I flipped a Cessna upside-down in a creek one time," said Scarborough, chuckling, "I couldn't get over the trees so I hit the dump lever to drop my chemicals, but I still couldn't get over. When I put myself on the ground and hit the brakes I flipped over into the water."

Scarborough was able to disengage his harness and free himself from the plane, but he had to walk back to the airport. He said that during his adventure his friend flew over the same spot several times but never noticed him. Despite a cavalier attitude, Scarborough thinks about his own death or injury.

"All that's in the back of your mind the whole time," Scarborough said. "When things have happened to other people and not to you, you have to wonder 'why them and not me."

While the loss of life is possible on any given day, Scarborough says it's not as dangerous as it used to be. He flies a near $1 million turbo-jet aircraft made in Albany by Thrush Aircraft.

According to Scarborough, the plane does a lot the work for him. An advanced GPS system, coupled with computer programing gives latitude and longitude of fields. In the interest of efficiency, the pilot is guided swath by swath which path to take over a field.

Applied chemicals are much safer now, said Scarborough, who has worked with some really toxic substances, including the infamous "agent orange," because they're designed to "do what they're going to do" in the first few hours of application, before becoming perfectly safe with exposure to sunlight.

A computer controls how many gallons of insecticide are applied to each swath or acre, even in the presence of a headwind or tailwind. At any given moment Scarborough knows heading, speed and altitude above sea level. When the application is finished he can provide the client with most of the same information, accounting for every second of the job.

"I enjoy working and I got no day set to retire," Scarborough said. "As long as I can do a good job I'll be right here."

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