GlobalAir.com Aviation Articles

How to Manually Extend Your Gear in an Emergency

Complex airplanes can be a large variety of different types of planes. Federal Aviation Regulations in the Airplane Flying Handbook define a complex aircraft to be "an airplane that has a retractable landing gear, flaps, and a controllable pitch propeller." So, this can be different types of jets and especially general aviation planes.

Most commonly, we see general aviation planes such as a Piper Cherokee featured here on the GlobalAir.com Aircraft for Sale area. Planes like these are usually the roots of most pilots when they were working towards a complex endorsement. Nonetheless, every pilot should be ready for a gear extension failure regardless of the plane they're flying. 

The first step to realizing you've had a gear extension failure is after vocalizing gear in transition, checking to see that the gear is fully down. There will be an absence of a light on the indicator (in most cases it's green). Some planes may have 3 green lights for each wheel, and some may just have one. Regardless, if any of the required indicator lights are absent, you've got an issue.

Here, you want to do a quick check to see if it's the lightbulb that's the issue and not the gear itself. Ensure your master and alternator switches are on, and if able pull the outer cover of the light off to see the lightbulb. You can easily touch it or lightly twist it and if it comes on, then it's the lightbulb that's malfunctioning. Always check your circuit breakers as well. If the gear circuit is out, push it back in one time. If the light comes on, again it's an electrical issue there and not the gear. However, if the circuit pops back out again leave it alone. It's popping out for a reason, so don't push it in again and especially don't hold it in. 

If you've ran through these first steps and have diagnosed it's not the landing gear position indicators that are out, now it's time for a manual gear extension. Let ATC know (if you're talking to them) what's going on and what you're about to do, and if you're coming in to land (which you most likely are) that you'll be going ahead with a go around. It doesn't matter if you get the gear down safely in time for touchdown, take another lap in the pattern. This reverts back to safe decision making.

Next, follow your emergency checklist according to your POH here to start emergency gear extension. Check airspeed is below what's published-because the gear may not be able to drop down without hydraulic power if you're too fast-and hit the landing gear selector down. Now grab your emergency gear extension lever and drop it down. Here you should feel the gear drop down, as you'll feel the drag and airspeed will slow.

You're not done yet. Now, you have to make sure the gear is locked in place. The last thing you'd want is to have followed a good emergency gear extension checklist, then touchdown and have a wheel collapse. You can ensure this by checking your landing gear lights are all lighted. 

But what if you have an electrical problem (reverting back to earlier) and can't see a light, or it still isn't lighted? That means you have to "wiggle the plane" so to speak and push the gear into place. Yaw the aircraft with rudder to both sides, and this should push the sides into locking. The nosewheel should have locked into place given that you let the gear down below airspeed. 

Now, you're ready to land. Again, let ATC now know what is going on. On a VFR day at a controlled airport, tower can even help you out by spotting you and letting you know if they see all your gear is down. This also goes at an uncontrolled field if someone else is in the vicinity and talking on the CTAF. Think of out of the box ideas like this to help you, it's all about managing the resources available and making safety a priority. 

In the worst case scenario that gear still isn't down, go then to your gear up landing checklist. If you haven't already, now it's time to officially declare an emergency.

Now matter what follow your checklists, use your available resources, revert back to your training, and most of all stay calm. Panicking is the worst thing to do in any emergency because you can't think straight and can now easily stray away from your procedures. 

Have any stories about doing a manual gear extension or any emergency scenario stories in general? Comment below and stay tuned for more posts!

Effects of Summer Flying and How to Overcome It

First and foremost, let's state the most obvious effect of summer flying: it. is. hot.

Being a pilot from Texas, I can personally say you should check on your southern friends. There's a good chance we're dehydrated and .2 seconds away from passing out due to heat exhaustion. 

Okay, maybe a little overdramatic....but it is hot. 

When flying in the summer, whether as a student, flight instructor, or any type of general aviation pilot we need to understand the effects of the weather changes. 

Rule number 1: Always carry water. Even if you just hydrated before your flight and don't think you need it, grab water anyways (and by the way, try to go green and make it a reusable water bottle while you're at it). From first-hand experience, dehydration and heat exhaustion can have a bigger impact on flying than you'd think. Your decision-making skills and effectiveness on hand-flying the plane start to deteriorate. If ignored, dizziness and a headache can start to occur. This becomes even more important on long haul flights. Don't be the newest accident statistic due to poor flight preparation.  Even if you're in a rush, take 2 extra minutes and grab that water. 

Rule number 2: Take into account the changes it can have on aircraft performance. If you're taking off from an airport with a short runway, even if a ground roll is normally adequate, double check it. The hotter it is, the longer ground roll you need. That point you're used to rotating at or obstacle you're used to clearing might not be your friend today, especially as the heat rises continuing into August. A great tool to help gauge the temperatures at the surface and at altitude is the GlobalAir Aviation Weather Temperatures Tool. Just click the "national weather" tab, then click "temperature" and see it all illustrated on an analysis chart. A quick tip: if you're using it to plan a flight for later in the future (and not 30 minutes from now) make sure you click for the right time frame! 

Surface Temperature

Rule number 3: Still on the weather subject, check your winds before heading out. You're most likely to encounter gusts of wind on a hot summer day with calm winds at the surface. I've also experienced this firsthand, so it became a learning experience. As soon as I reached 1500 ft the wind picked up, and it didn't stop. The turbulence actually reached moderate for me that day, so I cut my flight short and went back. No sense in taking chances to keep going and fighting the plane the entire time! For any situation with undesirable weather or even maintenance issues remember this: it's better to be on the ground wishing you were in the air than in the air wishing you were on the ground. The GlobalAir Winds Aloft Tool is also a great resource in planning for this. Be sure to check this and local METAR/TAF for each upcoming flight to ensure you don't get in a situation making you wish you were on the ground. 

Have any other tips for summer flying? Or maybe just good stories to tell that others can learn from? Feel free to comment them below. In the meantime, have a safe flight and happy landings!

4 Tips for Mastering Power-Off Landings

                       

You’ve got to do it on your private license and you get to do it again on commercial, the wonderful power-off landings. Whether it’s practicing power-off 180’s to land on a point of the runway or encountering a real-life scenario of being in the traffic pattern without an engine, here’s some tips for making it safely and efficiently.

1) First step in any engine-out scenario: pitch for glide speed and HOLD IT. Trim for it so good (while multitasking the other items too) that you can forget about it and look back and it’d still be fine.

You want the most distance as possible to give yourself time to think and make the runway. On check rides and in a real emergency scenario, it’s better to land past your desired point than short.

2) Never lose sight of your landing point.

Depending on your altitude in the pattern, you may need to turn straight towards your landing point or extend one of your legs slightly. Either way, keep an eye on your target the entire time.

In these scenarios you’re nervous, the pressure can be high, and if you turn away from it without making note to keep a constant scan of its distance then you can easily forget about it. When you do remember to look back, you can be too low and now it’s too late to save the landing.

3) To help with number 2, in a lot of scenarios it helps to keep the landing point on the tip of your wing. This is because in most cases, you’re likely no more than 1,000 feet above the ground (this is how typical traffic patterns for both controlled and uncontrolled airports are designed for general aviation aircraft).

Don't get this confused with keeping it perfectly rounded like turns around a point.

Instead, you should still keep a fairly squared off pattern with just a shorter downwind and base than usual. Keeping it off your wing helps you maintain distance so you avoid getting too low, and as previously stated helps you maintain where you are in reference to it. The more you keep an eye on the point, the better you can judge if you’re too high or too low and your chances increase of landing “right on the money.”

4) Know how to efficiently conduct slips, use flaps, and apply crosswind techniques.

These are so important, it can make or break a safe power-off landing.

Slips of course are to help you get down in a short distance. Apply full rudder and opposite aileron and pitch for something slightly higher than glide speed.

Ex. if glide speed is 72 knots, a good slip is about 80 knots.

While it’s safer and best to land beyond your landing reference than short of it, you can only land beyond it to an extent. For a commercial check ride, it’s 200 feet. For a real engine out scenario, you need to be able to touchdown and smoothly apply breaking power before reaching the end of the runway.

Flaps help control airspeed and increase your descent rate if you’re high too, but don’t add them in early or you could fall too short.

And of course, crosswind techniques. Even without an engine, you should dip the aileron into the wind. Imagine landing right at your desired area, but strong wind pushed you off runway centerline and now you’re in the grass next to the runway. Not a fun day…

Power-off landings can be tricky and take time to get down, and are easily one of the toughest maneuvers, but they can be very fun. These help you understand your plane better and adjust where you are in reference to something without messing with the throttle.

Need some help working on these and don’t know where to go? Use the GlobalAir Aviation Training tool located under the Aviation Directory tab.

Whether you want to impress your instructor, pass a check ride, or make a safe landing be sure to try out these tips on your next power-off landings. Stay tuned and keep an eye out on the GlobalAir.com website for all things aviation!

Commercial Pilot Check Ride Prep

Pilot Check Ride PrepFor any pilot looking to chase a career in aviation and especially those who have already passed their flight training days, we all have to experience the dreaded check ride. All the time, money and energy put into completing the requirements count on this one day-and it’s the most nerve wracking thing. If you’re like any pilot you can’t sleep the night before, you show up to your testing place early to restudy everything because you managed to forget it all that morning, and if the smallest thing goes wrong you’re discouraged. But it all becomes worth it when you shake your examiner’s hand as they pass you your new pilot certificate, and you know you earned it. So, let’s talk about some things that might help you pass your commercial check ride:

  • First things first, KNOW YOUR PLANE. Don’t test with a plane on a check ride you’re not familiar with. You should know factors like its glide capability, the systems, Vspeeds etc. This will play a part in both the oral and flight portion of the test. Consider some questions like what type of engine you have or how the electrical system operates. Glide capability comes into play on the engine out scenario and the power-off 180º.
  • Know commercial pilot limitations and where to find them in the regulations. Two questions almost every examiner will ask involve common carriage and holding out. Here’s a hint-both are illegal. You cannot use someone else's plane and charge passengers their rate along with yours. You also cannot go advertising flights for passengers after becoming a commercial pilot, such as “$200 flights round trip to the Bahamas!” with you. That gets into Part 135 operations that has different stipulations, and that you don’t have the privileges to do without a Part 135 certification. This license allows you to operate under 14 CFR 119.1 for flights such as bird chasing, aerial photography and sightseeing (NOT charter flights).
  • Another limitation as a commercial pilot is what you’re restricted to do if you do not have an instrument rating. If you’re unsure of where to find it, check out 14 CFR 61.133. Without an instrument rating, a licensed commercial pilot cannot carry passengers more than 50 nautical miles away from their departure airport. Regulations also restrict carrying passengers at night for hire.
  • Now that you can carry passengers for hire, your flight planning and flying skills should be well developed past what they were as a private pilot. After all, if you’re being paid for these operations you need to be good at them. It comes down to the small things, like turning to a new heading. Don’t throw the bank in there, but smoothly start rolling it in. In short: Make. Everything. Smooth. You want your passengers to be comfortable and feel like they’re flying with an experienced pilot. As for flight planning, use all the resources available for a safe and well-planned flight! This is especially helpful on cross countries, time building to meet testing requirements. One way to do this is finding an airport to refuel for the lowest price. The GlobalAir.com Fuel Mapping tool is perfect for this and ranks airports in a specified radius from lowest to highest fuel price.

The last tip for a commercial check ride, and any check ride for that matter, is to not test until you’re ready. Take it from a pilot with a previous failure and who has talked with other pilots, everything is on your timeline. It’s when you’ve studied and flown enough that you feel you’re truly ready for this new license that it’s time to test. Check rides are stressful and nerve wracking. It’s likely that you’ll fly worse than normal on a test day, and that’s okay because it’s your nerves.

Just remember that safety is the goal, not perfection! Take a breath, take your time, then show the examiner what you’ve been training for.  Do you have any tips that you would like to offer a student pilot you think might help?

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Craigslist Aircraft Sales

One of the aircraft we considered listing for sale on Craigslist
One of the aircraft we considered listing for sale on Craigslist

Craigslist.com is a website for online classifieds where thousands of people post their items for sale, help wanted, or even go to search for a date. I have personally had success with the website by finding my current rental house advertised when I checked the site on a whim. However, there are hundreds of stories out there of people getting scammed and cheated by buyers and sellers on the site, including a story as recent as this week where a woman lost $1,550 in a Craigslist check fraud scheme.https://buffalonews.com/2018/01/20/woman-says-she-lost-1550-in-craigslist-check-fraud-scheme/

Hundreds of Aircraft For Sale On Craigslist

One might be surprised to learn that there are actually hundreds of aircraft advertised for sale on Craigslist as well. But is it really a good idea to search for such a valuable asset on a site that has had a fairly controversial history? I took a look into the world of buying an aircraft on Craigslist and I want to share the good, bad, and ugly of what I found. As always, common good aircraft buying practices should be followed, such as getting a pre-purchase inspection and a title search showing a clear title. If possible, purchasers should seek out a purchase agreement in order to protect both parties. Proceed with caution, but maybe don’t overlook Craigslist in your search for your dream airplane.

The Good

Unlike your regular aircraft for sale websites, Craigslist doesn’t have much of a filter for what aircraft related things people can post. Most searches lead to listings of aircraft parts, advertisements for flight schools, and even a few pilots looking to find others to start a “timeshare” type of deal with their existing planes. It should certainly be mentioned that these can be good opportunities, and you just might find a way to save money by sharing a great plane with other owners instead of buying one.

This is also one of the cheapest options for listing your plane, as it appears there are no listing fees for individual sellers. If you’re selling from a dealership you do incur some fees, but they’re only $5 per listing. You are able to reach a large audience with this website, because it has such a large following to begin with. https://www.craigslist.org/about/help/posting_fees

The Bad

One difficult thing about searching for an aircraft for sale on Craigslist is that the site is organized in a very specific way that does not encourage searching locations other than your own. Instead of simply searching “aircraft for sale” and seeing all aircraft listed on the site, you have to first drill into the Craigslist page for the area where you want to look. Most major cities and counties are included, but having to search through pages and pages of these just to find the aircraft in the first place is overwhelming. The idea behind Craigslist is that you’re buying from people in the local community, but a good deal on an aircraft that you’ve been looking for could very well be thousands of miles away. This isn’t a problem on other aircraft for sale sites, because they mostly list by aircraft category and rarely by location.

A big thing to keep in mind when buying or selling on Craigslist is that the website has no control over the transaction. They do not guarantee purchases, process payments, and there is certainly no Craigslist seller verification process. They have done a lot to cover their butts in case something goes wrong, so they will almost never be found liable for a purchase gone wrong.

The Ugly

During my research on the topic I did find a pretty hilarious article where someone was trying to sell their Cessna 172 H on Craigslist… Using a photograph of the plane lying upside-down on its back. Evidently the ’68 Cessna got flipped when a tornado went through town, but the owner was still asking for $16,500. It has since been flipped and sold, but I’m not sure I would purchase a 172 in that condition!

https://jalopnik.com/5941947/this-upside-down-airplane-is-for-sale-and-can-be-yours

Another notable “best of Craigslist” is the Corvette-Mooney hybrid that a man made in his backyard. By putting the fuselage of a 1963 Mooney on the frame of a 1984 Corvette, the seller has created the most hideous hybrid of car and airplane one could think of. Not even bothering to match the paint schemes, the red of the Corvette does little to blend with the white and blue of the Mooney. Perhaps intentionally colors of the USA? I hope this is a joke, but it has to be seen to be believed.

https://jalopnik.com/this-backyard-airplane-corvette-monster-is-pretty-much-1750179686

 

Perhaps a better use of Craigslist would be to search for aircraft parts or flight schools. In the end, Craigslist is little more than a community bulletin board where legitimate sellers and scammers alike can post whatever they please. Proceeding with caution is the best way to start your aircraft search on this site, but you just might find a treasure if you look hard enough and be patient.

One of the aircraft we considered listing for sale on Craigslist
One of the aircraft we considered listing for sale on Craigslist

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