November 26, 2010
Student pilots say that some maneuvers are easy and fun—but other maneuvers, not so much, whether it’s getting the bounce out of their landings or preventing steep turns from sliding off into sloppy spirals.
The good news is that there’s probably less to the problem than meets the eye. Small adjustments usually make the difference between messy and masterful maneuvers.
If a particular task or maneuver just seems to defy your attempts to conquer it, break it down to its component elements. Which part is holding you back?
Be sure you understand just what the maneuver intended to achieve and teach. Perhaps the problem is an errant concept of the objectives. That’s important because knowing why you must fly the maneuver may help you figure out how to fly it.
The steep turn, reviewed in the Nov. 19 Training Tip, exemplifies a maneuver with a variety of aerodynamic requirements. Rolling into the steep bank, you must add back-pressure, or your aircraft will descend. Rolling out, you must release some of that back-elevator pressure, or you’ll climb. Errors may also come from distraction, perhaps because you’re fixated on rolling out on the proper heading. Cure the fixation, cure the maneuver!
Another typical training challenge is mastering landings. Almost all trainees struggle to make them come together. The key is learning to time the completion of the flare so that the stalled attitude is reached an instant before the wheels touch, with the trainer in an almost nil rate of descent. Too late or too little back-pressure and you touch down too soon, perhaps with a bounce. Too much or too early back elevator and you may balloon upward or stall, dropping it in from several feet too high. Preferably, before that happens you will execute a go-around, using the technique described by Ian Twombly in the November 2010 Flight Training magazine. But it takes lots of practice to get the feel for how it all comes together.
Crosswind landings are another example. Practice just the part you find difficult, such as tracking the runway centerline in a wing-low attitude, until you’re ready to make confident crosswind touchdowns.
That’s the beauty of flight training: Small adjustments produce big results!
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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 was planning a recent flight to Adams Field in Little Rock, Ark., when I noticed there was a note in the AOPA kneeboard chart that indicated “Right traffic: 22R, 04R.” Does that mean when I am flying the downwind leg for either 22R or 04R the runway will be on the right side of the plane?
Answer: Yes. Most of us are more accustomed to the standard left-hand traffic pattern that consists of the 45-degree entry and then left downwind, left base, and final. However, some airports require a right-hand traffic pattern. There are various reasons for this; one of the most popular is to keep aircraft from overlying populated areas such as a housing development.
There is really no mystery to flying a right-hand traffic pattern. You will fly the same entry and legs as a left-hand traffic pattern; however, the runway will be on your right instead of on your left. It might feel a bit odd the first time you fly it, but after a few times around the pattern you will be as comfortable as you are flying the standard left-hand pattern. For more on traffic pattern entries, read “ Entering the Traffic Pattern.”
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