Flight Training - Page 4 Aviation Articles

5 Mistakes to Avoid a Bad Steep Turn

Steep turns: you have to do them on every check ride all the way from private to CFI, CFII and MEI. So you might as well learn to get good at them. Here are some tips on how:

1) Becoming fixated on something

Okay, rule number one in aviation: NEVER BECOME FIXATED ON ONE THING. I put this in all capitals because it's a huge mistake I see tons of students make. They become too focused on one task or one instrument and everything else around it starts to suffer. 

When it comes to steep turns, there's a lot of things to focus on. Your fast changing heading, altitude, bank angle, and looking for traffic outside at a minimum. Keep those eyes scanning!!!

If you keep your scan looking outside at your reference to the horizon and back inside to all your instruments you'll catch something as soon as it starts to change, which keeps you from letting any problem become too hard to correct.

The rate of your scan should be like they teach in CPR classes, to the rate of Stayin' Alive by the Bee Gees. I sing it in the cockpit if I have to when I teach, it engrains that rhythm and really improves your scanning method. Trust me!

2) Using the wrong visual sight cues

The key to being able to do awesome steep turns is knowing what to look for both outside and inside. Outside of the windshield, put your cowling right through the horizon as you enter the turn and keep it there. Remember that it will look slightly different on your left and right turns. Once you have the 45-degree bank established and can get the altimeter stable on your altitude take a mental picture of what it looks like outside and then work to maintain that picture. This will help TREMENDOUSLY.

3) Forgetting to compensate for loss of vertical lift

Okay, let's bring it back to basic aerodynamics here.

 

When you're flying straight and level, you have vertical lift (up and down). When you start turning the wings, that's transferred to horizontal lift (side to side). So, therefore you're losing vertical lift and will experience a small loss in altitude. 

So what's this mean to you? The more bank you add, the more back pressure you will need to add to compensate for that loss of vertical lift so you don't lose altitude. On a check ride your altitude on a steep turn is limited to +/- 100 feet of your starting altitude. To keep yourself from even getting close to that margin, the SECOND that you add a lot of bank and your nose starts to fall, pick it back up. Don't let the problem get worse and worse before you fix it, fix it right then and there. That's one reason you have to demonstrate steep turns, there's a lot of multitasking and flying skills that go into the maneuver itself. 

4) Being uncoordinated

This one speaks for itself. Don't be uncoordinated. Keep that ball centered on the turn coordinator always. In steep turns, you're closer to the margin of stalling (read why on the next bullet point) and remember that if you're uncoordinated and you stall, these two factors are the ingredients for a spin which you WILL begin to enter unless you counteract it properly. 

Whether you're flying a Cessna 172 that is approved for spins versus a Piper Cherokee that's not approved for spin recovery....don't even get near that area. Be a good pilot, add some rudder and keep that relative wind at the center of the prop.

5) Accidentally entering an accelerated stall

With any amount of bank, especially anything past 30 degrees, your load factor increases and therefore so does your stall speed. I think of it as the plane being more sensitive, so I need to have good controllability and be smooth (not aggressive) with my control inputs. 

I'm harping on load factor because being in 45 degrees of bank you have a higher load factor and your nose can start to feel heavier, so it's very easy to lose altitude. If you lose a lot of altitude then try to hurry and yank the nose up, you'll likely hear the stall warning system start to go off. This is an automatic failure in steep turns because you're not performing a stall, therefore you shouldn't get near one. 

So go back to bullet point one, keep your visual scan moving and catch an altitude loss before it becomes too big. And if you feel the nose is too heavy and you can't stop the descent...take out some bank! That's what made the nose feel heavy in the first place. Take out bank, bring your altitude back up, then add it back in. Magic!

Hopefully, these tips help the next time you perform steep turns. Remember to get better at something keep practicing and practice diligently, use a good method for performing maneuvers and come up with your own tricks too if that helps. Study the maneuver on the ground (don't expect to learn everything in the air, you're flying so your brain can't take in as much as you'd think) and then go try and fly it. And if you're having a lot of trouble with it, take a break for a few flights then give it a shot the next time. You may have reached a learning plateau and just needed to break away from it for a bit. 

Keep flying and happy landings everyone! Happy Fall!

5 Ways to Improve Your Scholarship Application

Whether you're pursuing a college degree, flight training, or both, your wallet will surely feel the financial burden. Scholarships are a great option for students to alleviate the cost of schooling. Although pilot hiring in the aviation industry has slowed due to COVID-19, it won't be long until the pilot shortage surfaces once again. The pilot shortage prior to the pandemic had several casual factors. One of the prominent factors was the expense of initial flight training. The aviation industry has many generous donors who provide funding for struggling students through scholarships. Here are five ways to make your scholarship essay stand out.

 

1. Did you follow the directions?

Many applicants can disqualify themselves for not thoroughly following the directions. This can be as simple as not submitting an official transcript, an essay that doesn't meet the length requirement, or the omission of other requirements.

 

2. Do you qualify for the scholarship?

This goes hand-in-hand with not following the directions. Some scholarships are directed towards applicants with certain characteristics. These characteristics could be a certain grade point average, area of study, grade in school, gender, and other demographics. 

 

3. Tell the scholarship community how YOU are different from other applicants.

The best place in the application to do this is in the essay. The essay is the place to make the scholarship committee remember you. This is the ultimate goal of the application. Many applicants have a similar essay on how they work several jobs and can't afford their flight training/schooling. Instead, focus on writing an essay that explains how you are different from everyone else. Explain what you are doing to better someone else, describe your volunteer experience, express your hobbies, etc. 

 

4. Double and even triple check for grammar and spelling errors.

A good place to be remembered (for the wrong reason) is in an essay with grammatical mistakes. Find a friend or family member to read through your essay after you triple checked it for flaws.

 

5. Do your research on the organization/individual offering the scholarship.

Explain in your application why you are honored to receive their scholarship. Include their mission and goals in your explanation. Show the scholarship committee that you have done your research. 

 

Filling out scholarship applications can be timely, however, it will always be worth your while. You will get better at applying for scholarships with trial and error. A great scholarship opportunity for anyone interested in aviation is the annual GlobalAir.com Scholarship. The application window is open until August 15th, 2020. Follow the tips above and make sure to get your application in!

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!

How to Handle Lost Comms in Controlled Airspace

Well well well....another week of instructing has not only added more time to my logbook but more learning experiences to teach from. Aka, this week did not go smoothly by any means!

I've always been taught about lost comms procedures in controlled airspace and yet have never had to use them. One of my fellow coworkers had to a few months ago...but my time finally came and it happened at the worst possible timing. But I'm still here writing this post so that's a good sign ;)

So, first, let's do a review of what happened to my coworker, and then I'll tell my story. Because honestly, mine is a lot cooler - and more valuable to learn from (which I guess is more important).


Pictured above is the DA 60 at KEFD - similar to the DA 62 featured on our sale page

Here's a cool picture above of what my view is while I write this post! 

So the first incident, which both of these happened in the same plane about 2 months apart, my coworker and his student were practicing landings in the pattern and on the go tried to call tower for requested left closed. They got no response, so-called again.....still no response. The Garmin 430 showed the "tx" when he pressed the button indicating he was transmitting, but there was just silence on the other line. So as another resort he held the PTT and let the tower know he was transmitting blind, would be keeping left closed traffic, and come in for a full stop (no one else was in the pattern at the time). Almost immediately after they got the light gun signal from tower steady green, showing they were cleared to land. There wasn't even a need to squawk 7600. So they landed, plane went down for maintenance and that was the end of it.

THEN my day came a few days ago. My student and I took off and were cleared for right closed traffic and instructed to call on downwind for the option. In the pattern above us were two Air Force T38's, behind us two cessna's, and on a 8 mile final the NASA WB-57. Quite literally the busiest day I have ever experienced in the pattern as all of us except the high altitude plane was staying in the pattern to practice landings. 

So, the student is flying the plane and starts her landing procedures while I go to call on downwind....nothing. I can't hear myself talk and I can't hear a response from the tower. I look over to my student and start talking and she can't hear me either, so all comms were lost. I hurry and switch to our second comm and get the same result. So now it's time to turn base....time to implement some aeronautical decision making. Do I continue the landing? Turn around and leave the airspace? Try and diagnose the situation? All of these things ran through my head within a matter of .2 seconds. 

I decided to continue my turn to final because that was my last clearance: to maintain closed traffic. The issue was the T38's were right above me and we were both coming in at the same time. I was likely cleared to either extend downwind or do a 360 but because I couldn't hear anything I decided the best thing to do was turn to final and look for my light gun signal.

Nothing. So because I wasn't cleared to land I executed a go around and started heading to leave the airspace to a nearby uncontrolled field. On upwind the T38's came up beside me (coincidentally also having to execute a go around because of me) and leveled off for a second before they broke off to the right. So imagine this: no comms, executing a go around after about not even 20 seconds of losing complete communication with everyone and then seeing military jets right next to you watching you. Fantastic.

As I broke left and continued to leave the airspace I immediately remembered I had tower's number in my cell phone, so I stuck my phone in my headset and talked to them and let them know what happened while I continued to fly the plane. They cleared me to come back and land on a different runway and went ahead and gave me a taxi clearance with instructions to call back after I park.

So, after we parked I called and the controllers were just wanting to make sure I was okay. I asked if I did everything like I should've or if there was something I could've done better. Tower told me everything I did was safe and I made the right decisions! The only thing I forgot to do/didn't have time to - SQUAWK 7600. My student and I had just briefed transponder codes a few days before and what do ya know we had the perfect opportunity to use them and didn't!

The moral of the story here is I have 3 pieces of advice:

1) Don't forget your squawk codes, if I would've done this when I first lost comms on downwind I likely would have gotten a light gun signal. 

2) Save the tower phone number in your cell phone if you're out of a controlled field! It comes in handy in all types of situations.

3) APPRECIATE YOUR CONTROLLERS. The fact they wanted me to call back just to make sure I was okay and thanked me for making safe decisions made my day. They keep us safe and deserve so much recognition. 

Any questions or comments?! Maybe you've also had lost comms before? Let us know what happened below! We're all here to learn from each other's experiences.

 

How to Counteract an Engine Failure in Flight

First, let me start out by saying that this article is for single engine flying. I'll write another one on multi engine plane engine failures in the future.

I had this talk recently with a fellow CFI I work with on the biggest issues we see in student training. Engine failures aren't taken seriously because they don't happen too often. It's also because in your typical general aviation planes you have a good glide ratio, so rather than being quick people take their time running checklists and securing the plane in simulated engine outs. 

I GUARANTEE you during an ACTUAL engine failure you won't be taking your time, but instead immediately going through how you trained it. Did you train it nonchalantly and running checklist super slow? I hope not. So let's talk about what to do:

The acronym you want to memorize for engine failures is ABC. Kinda comical how simple it is, but it could save your life one day!

A is for airspeed. The VERY SECOND your engine fails, pitch for glide speed. Glide speed is published by the manufacturer to be at the maximum lift/drag ratio to give the pilot the greatest gliding distance available. At this point, you're not gaining any altitude. But giving yourself the most horizontal distance available to find a good spot to land is key.

B is for best place to land. As soon as you start bringing the nose up or down for glide speed and trimming for it, take a look outside and see where you're going to land. If you're struggling to find an airport, glance at your GPS if you have a screen onboard. You might be right on top of an airport without knowing it. If not, then keep looking outside. Anything like a field, road, coastline etc. can be a good spot. Some tips on what to watch out for is if you can help it don't pick a field full of trees, a marshy area, watch out for power lines over the road, and of course the obvious always avoid buildings/structures. 

C is checklist. Yes, now that the plane is secured lets see why we lost that engine! Commit your checklist to memory and do it from memory first and then check yourself on paper after doing one run through. This way you aren't stuck reading one item at a time and wasting time as you're losing altitude. Commit your checklists and run them like a machine: no time is wasted that doesn't need to be.

The same CFI I talked with about this experienced a real engine failure once. He told me "wow, no one prepared me for how absolutely quiet it gets when that engine stops." And I guess that's something I never thought about before. What will it be like when it actually happens? A CFI won't be there next to you with their favorite "you just lost an engine" grin.....no, just you and some dead pistons. He immediately did ABC and once he switched fuel tanks and restarted the plane it refired. Turns out there was a clog in the fuel lines on one tank, and switching to another fixed the issue. He was able to do this from memory and pretty much had no need for the paper checklist, although he still went through after to verify everything was secured as called for. 

He stuck to his training, and it saved his life.

So to end this post I ask, how do you train for an engine failure? Do you think it would save your life the method you're using? Have fun with flight training, but also take it seriously and make sure you learn something valuable each time you go up!



Don't forget our Globalair.com Scholarship is accepting applications through August, we hope to see you apply!

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