Friday, July 08, 2005

I think I have officially recovered from vacation. My two flights today went well. The first, instead of flying the Cherokee 6, we took the Archer, and practiced some commercial maneuvers. The ceiling wasn't high enough for most of the maneuvers, so we spent most of the time doing engine-out spot landings. I think he has the idea now, he just needs to mentally process all the factors that affect glide distance, and get some more practice. It is a busy maneuver. From 800 feet up, you only have a minute to make a couple turns, figure out how much the wind is affecting your glide angle, adjust airspeed for whatever condition you find yourself in, decide on when to use flaps, etc. It really is one of my favorite maneuvers though, because you have multiple ways to accomplish the task. An exercise in free-form flying, with a need for precision.

More often than not, in the 2-seat Diamond, I just keep it in best glide configuration, because that plane glides so well, it ends up taking 2 full minutes to get to the ground from 800 feet up. But one of my favorite ways to do it is to intentionally stay too high, then raise the nose to the point where the wings are stalling, then come down to 300-400 feet above ground like that, then lower the nose for more airspeed. It worked wonders on Rich this weekend, freaking him out a bit. A shame I can't teach that, but I wouldn't want someone doing that without really strong grasp of the aerodynamics. I think I started doing it that way after I had done a couple zero-airspeed autorotation landings in a helicopter. Even in a plane that stalls at such a low airspeed, it isn't quite the same effect, but it is close.

Second student was an intro of sorts. He'd had a few helicopter lessons before, but wanted to fly an airplane too. As is often the case with a transitioning helicopter pilot, he wasn't willing to move the controls very quickly. But I think we had fun one way or the other, and that is what it is all about.

Now, to get some paperwork done, and maybe even get home before dark.


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