December 17, 2010
Helicopter Foundation International (HFI) has extended the deadline for its 2011 scholarship applications to Dec. 31, 2010. To apply, go to HFI’s website, click on Programs, and then click on Scholarships. Applications must be postmarked no later than Dec. 31 and received by Jan. 10, 2011. Mail applications to HFI Scholarships, 1635 Prince Street, Alexandria, Va. 22314-2818. Electronic submissions are preferred. Scholarship winners will be announced prior to HAI’s HELI-EXPO 2011, Mar. 5 through 8 in Orlando, Fla.
Here is a question for this 107th anniversary of powered flight. Which airplane is more challenging to fly: your modestly equipped, low-powered trainer, or that high-performance aircraft parked nearby.
Bells and whistles (of the fancy aircraft) aside, your trainer is probably more of a project to simply fly by hand. That’s why what your trainer lacks in glamour, it makes up for in how it teaches you about flying.
Let’s start with a “spec.”
The specification of “wing loading” from your pilot’s operating handbook is probably a lower number (in pounds per square foot) than that of the high-performance aircraft. “Wing loading is a way of expressing how much weight each square foot of wing area must lift, and is usually given at the aircraft's maximum gross weight,” explained the Oct. 21, 2005, “ Training Tip: Wing loading.” Lower wing loading makes your aircraft bouncier in rough air, which teaches you how to fly in turbulence and gives you something to look forward to—smoother rides in advanced aircraft—later.
In bumps or smooth air, flying is easier if you establish the desired flight condition and trim for hands-off flight, as shown in this October 2010 Flight Training article and video. Elevator trim may be your trainer’s only trim control. “At the other end of the spectrum, pilots training in highly automated machines such as technologically advanced aircraft (TAA) know trim as one component of an integrated system,” said the July 3, 2009, “ Training Tip: Trainers and Trim.”
Another system you may encounter someday is a constant-speed propeller. It is designed to maximize propeller efficiency in both climbs and cruise—freeing a pilot from certain trainer trials: “Flying maneuvers or through air burdened with up- and downdrafts is smoother and more comfortable with a constant-speed prop because, as the air load changes on the prop, its governor compensates to maintain the rpm. Under similar conditions, a fixed-pitch prop speeds up and slows down erratically, transmitting vibrations to the cockpit (and its occupants), often luring inexperienced pilots into chasing the fluctuating rpm with inefficient—and ineffective—power and trim adjustments,” said the January 2006 Flight Training magazine feature “ Smooth Operator.”
Trainers work hard. They’re built to last a long time, and to teach lessons that last even longer.
Study a variety of King Schools courses on your iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad. Five courses are available as iPhone applications: Stalls and Spins, VFR Cross Country, Pilot Communications, Complete Airspace, and Takeoffs and Landings. Each is priced at $29.99. Download from the iTunes Store.
Note: Products listed have not been evaluated by ePilot editors unless otherwise noted. AOPA assumes no responsibility for products or services listed or for claims or actions by manufacturers or vendors.
Question: I am a student pilot and only fly by myself in day VFR conditions. Is spatial disorientation something that I need to be concerned about or does it really only happen to instrument-rated pilots in instrument meteorological conditions (IMC)?
Answer: Yes, you certainly do need to be aware of the possibility of becoming spatially disoriented while flying. VFR-only pilots are the most frequent victims of spatial disorientation. Several years ago the Air Safety Institute conducted a study of spatial disorientation accidents that occurred during a 10-year period and found that 50 percent resulted from VFR pilots flying into IMC. This situation is fatal 90 percent of the time. For more information, read the Air Safety Institute’s Safety Advisor, Spatial Disorientation: Confusion that Kills .
Got a question for our technical services staff? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call the Pilot Information Center, 800/872-2672. Don’t forget the online archive of “Final Exam” questions and answers, searchable by keyword or topic.
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