Page  6.25 
A Problem: The Advice (14,177)
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A Collection of Items; …The Flare; ...Landing a C-172...Traffic Pattern; ...The Skills You Lose; ... Spending Makes the Cost of Flying Lower; …With a Little Bit of Bloom'in Luck; …Making the Unfamiliar, Familiar; …Full Flap Landings; ...Rudder; ...Bank in the Pattern; ...Stalls; ...Flare; ...Tracking to a VOR; ...Soft Field Landing; ...Safe Altitude Selection; ...Glide Distance; ...Altimeter Errors due to Temperature; ...Emergency Procedures; ...Greaser Landings; …Uncontrolled Airport Arrivals; …Internet Landing Advice; ...Getting Started; ...Is It Too Much to Learn? ...

A Collection of Items:
--Maturity comes to some earlier than others but to all survivors given enough time.
--Love maintains enthusiasm and youth in those who love.
--Getting older is a worthwhile process when you consider that dying younger is the alternative.
--Your alternative to becoming an old pilot is being a statistic.
--Every day of your flying life is a new record for how long you have been a pilot.
--Your job is what you do, not who you are.
--Problems can be managed by anticipation of a situation's options.
--In advisory communications the aircraft type is more important than the call sign.
--Calling the turns in an uncontrolled airport pattern is best for visual location of position.
--Stopping to talk to pilots is an excellent way to get ideas and incidental knowledge
--Beware of pilots who exaggerate their capabilities and experiences.
--Going to places were planes and pilots congregate is the best part of flying.
--There is no safe way to fly an airplane with dry ice aboard.
--The rarity of tragedy in light aircraft is proof of inherent safety given the idiotic behavior of pilots.
--A pilot should never be surprised
--Turning downwind is dangerous if facing obstacles requiring same climb rate over distance as on takeoff.
--Transponder operation is a two-way street between ATC and plane.
--Do not assume that your transponder is the problem when ATC has a problem with your transponder.
--When a SIGMET identifies thunderstorms as an area instead of a line, it means avoidance is possible.
--Even experienced instructors should study and practice
--Experience does not mean that you should not study and practice.
--Flying with a tense instructor is not conducive to good learning.
--Failure to challenge a student is indicative of poor instruction.
--Flying, as one of the wonders of life, cannot be viewed on a cost basis.
--Pilots who receive poor service are obliged to advise management.
--100-hour inspections on instructional aircraft dependent on compensation and who provides plane.
--James3:1 Not any of you should presume to be teachers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.
--A tense instructor will cause tension in a student.
--An instructor should challenge a student to '…be all he can be'.
--An instructor should take weather opportunities to expose a student to real MVFR conditions.(See 6.23 last topic.)

The Flare
Dear Mr. Whitt:
I have enjoyed your Web Site and have used it extensively in my training. You have helped me understand the process of learning to fly. I am 53 years old and started flying in 1978, I had 30 hours in and had to quit, (marriage and kids). I always wanted to go back and get my license, and have finally started back in. I have an additional 45
hours in and have met all my requirements.

All x-countrys are done, all night flying, all hood work, passed the written with an 88. My problem is still and has always been ( even back in 1978) the flare. I fly a 172 and can land flat with the nose wheel above the runway, not touching all day long. X-winds are not a problem. Can squeak 4 out of 5 landing semi flat. However when I need to land with the stall horn on, I "drop" the plane every now and then. My CFI says I run out of Flaps, stall it to high above the runway and it drops onto the runway. I get very tenative after I drop one, drops fairly hard, and it takes me a lesson or two to get back into the groove.

I have read your articles on landing and the flare, Is there any thing else you could tell me that would help? I'm getting ready for my check ride and can do all the requirements very well until the flare thank you

Gene's Answer
First of all you must adjust your seat height and distance. You must have your seat high enough so that by just turning your head you can barely see the bottom of the wing under the top of the window frame. Secondly, you must be able to reach the rudder pedals and brakes easily.

That said you must determine if the flare problem is different when you are solo and dual. A C-172 with a person in the back seat is easy to flare properly. A short to medium height person in a C-172 may have difficulty flaring if the aircraft has a complete radio stack. What I am trying to indicate is that you must get rid of all the problems related to the airplane. I once put 50# in the luggage compartment so a short lightweight student could flare an older model C-172. The wing of the older C-172 had a different leading edge from those built in the 1970s. The new models above M have only 30 degrees of flap and the difference could be part of your problem. Depends on what you are flying.

Now let's talk about the actual flare. In reading my material you saw the importance of a minimum of fingers on the yoke, you also read that the last few inches of yoke must be UP as well as back. Run a weight an balance with you alone and at the most forward C.G. It is just possible that a power-off landing will require a bit of airspeed above 60 knots or 1200 rpm to give the elevator authority needed to raise the nose. The power-off full-stall touchdown to a feather-like landing is difficult for the best of pilots. Have your instructor give a demonstration so you can laugh.

One exercise I like to do with my students is to have them come in with low power on and leave it on until touchdown. Do this with your instructor until you feel comfortable. In the flare with power you must be very smooth and gentle to prevent a balloon. Be patient. Let the aircraft do the landing and be prepared not to let the touchdown shock cause the nose to lower. You will feel a slight elevator sensation in your gut when the plane is ready to land. That is the time to raise the nose and cover the far end of the runway. At touchdown with the nose up, immediately remove the flaps and keep the nosewheel off the runway while you smoothly add some power to keep the nose up. You can do touch-and-gos without letting the nose wheel touch the runway.

A very smooth landing in a full stall is a rare event. The landing gear and aircraft are designed to take a firm landing without damage. Just do not let the nosewheel participate in such a landing. If you are uncertain about the approach or flare, go-around. Wait until you are a private pilot to take the advanced training need to 'salvage' a landing.  A DE will never fault you for going around.
More if you wish...

Hiya groupies
Well I finally managed to get another lesson today, my first since last Saturday. That lesson was bloody scary and prompted me to start the "Scared SH#TLESS Of Stalls" thread that so many kindly replied to with their thoughts and encouragement.

Before my lesson this morning I read back through all the posts and emails (for about the 20th time), built up my confidence with some positive re-enforcement and headed off for the field. Officially, the lesson for today was to be my first circuits (patterns) but I had to prove my confidence in stalls first before Instructor would move on to circuits.

Once in the training area, Instructor did 2 slow speed stalls to get me back in the rhythm then handed over to me. I pulled it off nearly perfect, lost only 50ft and it felt pretty damn good (no queasy feeling either this time)

Next was the power on and again, it scared me a bit with a wing drop and too much forward pressure leaving me pointed nearly vertical at the ground. But I recovered well and that helped build the confidence.

Next was the power on with full flap and to start with it rattled my cage BIG TIME - major wing drop and that stupid reaction of trying to correct with aileron. Again, I recovered it but was nowhere near confident.

It was about now I thought back to all the postings, particularly the ones I could most relate to and had singled out to try and help me. I went through them in my mind and thought, damn - I CAN do this!! Slow it down and think it through. What followed was 2 pretty darn good power on full flap stalls - WHAT A FEELING!!!!! I actually felt like I could control the bird and once I had that, the fear was gone! Unbelievable!!

Thanks SSSSOOOOOOO much to you all. I really can't express my gratitude to all the great people in this group.  If you can make it to the bar, the drinks are on me! :-)

.....After the stalls were my first touch and goes...but that story is goin' in my web journal....URL to follow shortly :-) Thanks again guys and gals.

Landing the C-172
I'm a 10.6 Hr student and at the moment working on landing C-172s properly. Had a question on the use of flaps when landing. On landing approach, when should flaps be deployed at 10degs, 20degs and full flaps? Why? 
Wasn't very convinced with my CFI's response and couldn't find useful pointers in my Jep book. thanks in advance,

Here's what I've found works...
On downwind adjust throttle to give you about 90 KIAS, and get the trim set for hands-off level flight. This will probably be somewhere around 2200 RPM. Remember to add carb heat as you go below the green arc.  As you pass abeam your touchdown point, reduce throttle about 100 RPM, put in 10 flaps, and begin a shallow descent. This should give you about 75 KIAS.

After you turn base, reduce power another 100 RPM and go to 20 flaps. This should give you about 70 KIAS.  On final, reduce power as required to maintain 65 KIAS. Add in the last flaps on short final when landing is assured.
Roy Smith

As with all things related to aviation, "it depends."
Generally, in a 172, on a day with not much wind or turbulence, 10 degrees abeam the numbers on downwind, 20-degrees when you turn base, and 40 degrees on final.
To decrease your airspeed and increase your angle of descent. You want to decrease your airspeed to decrease your rollout. You want to increase your angle of descent for obstacle clearance.
Brien Meehan

You have received excellent answers, but let me chime in with this: Don't look to your Jepp book for information on 172s...look in a 172 book. My 172Q book says "As desired (0-10 below 110 KIAS, 10-30 below 85  KIAS) Airspeed 60-70 KIAS (flaps down)"

That's all you have to work with...Jepp can't add anything that the manufacturer has not included in the manual. As Roy says, it is a matter of judgment, and a large part of flight training is developing judgment on what to do, when to do it, and how much.
Bob Gardner

10 degrees abeam landing point on downwind. 20 on base. Full flaps on final. That's how I do it.
John Y.

Can't argue with that, but the official word is to follow the manufacturer's recommendations...when they are vague or open to interpretation, you're on your own. No one can say that what you are doing is right or wrong as long as you stay within the limits set by the manufacturer.
Bob Gardner

That is why the first notch here, the second notch here, and the third notch here, right? I assume you know the steeper angle, better visibility, lower speed at touchdown, greater drag so shorter rollout, etc, as to why flaps are used. If not, other's answered that one. If I'm right in your question, other's will have better answers to it, too, I'm sure.

My belief (I haven't asked, and am a student pilot as you are) is, primarily, to bring the flaps in gradually over the final part of the pattern so there is no abrupt change in attitude. I was taught to lower RPM abeam the touchdown point, hold altitude until airspeed drops, first notch when below Vfe, second on base, third on final. A secondary reason for those chosen three points of bringing in each notch (again, my belief) is as a memory mnemonic. Of course, you have to be careful if it becomes a hard and fast mnemonic.

I have landed where (per the tower) there was no downwind leg or even base leg, where I was directed (by the tower) to do a straight in approach. I didn't have any problem with it, but I remember the straight in was the strangest for me to judge when to reduce power, when to bring in the flaps, etc. On my long solo cross-country, at a towered airport, I was given the option to do a straight in or call left base; I called base to help keep the perspective as close to normal as possible. In either case, I just reduced RPM and brought in flaps as it seemed appropriate. Worked okay. Good luck,

A couple of opinions that that have been mentioned as possibilities. I like to get as many constants set as soon as possible. I approach the numbers at cruise on downwind. At this point I reduce the power to 1700 rpm in anticipation that the deceleration will reduce rpm to 1500. The speed of Cessnas at this point allow the appropriate pattern size to be established with three full moves of the nose up trim wheel. The speed while holding heading and altitude will be at 90 knots hands-off. Put in 10 degrees of flap and take off one turn of trim. Speed will be hands-off at 80 knots.

Turn base in 30-degree bank, put flaps to 20 degrees and take off one more turn of trim. Speed will be hands-off at 70 knots. Turn final and put flaps to full and do not change trim. Speed will decrease to 60 knots hands-off and no-flap go-around trim without any change speed is 75 knots. Aircraft loading will make small differences in these speeds but trim settings are pretty constant.

Did six x-wind landings in 90 degree/30 knot winds this morning. Used no flaps and final approach speed of 70 knots in order to hold runway and nose alignment. Floated 1500 feet from threshold to touchdown with one go-around due to poor runway alignment. Definite decrease in wind velocity below 20 feet. Pretty near maximum capability for me. Uncontrolled airport with no traffic.
Gene Whitt

Use as per the POH as other have suggested (probably 10 on downwind, 10 more on base and the rest on final).  But understand this: The flaps are there to provide extra lift. When you have extra lift, stall speed is decreased by probably around 3 knots per flap setting in your plane (you need to know this exact figure so study your POH).  When you have less speed upon landing, energy decreases significantly.

For example, you are about five percent fast on final approach. That 5% extra speed (just 4 knots or so) adds TWENTY PERCENT to your landing distance. Not good on a short field. It's for this same reason that you want to be going as slow as possible when the wheels hit the ground during a landing. In the event of an accident, you don't want any extra energy. About the only time you don't want all the flaps on final is in gusty conditions.--
Jim Fisher

In my experience with teaching landings, problems arise when basic skills are not well seated. I will review slow flight in all configurations, ground reference maneuvers, the four basics and stalls. I do these while en route to nearby airports not previously visited. We will do landings with taxi back or stop and go and perhaps make departures with return from various checkpoints to practice radio procedures. I want to do as many left patterns as right patterns when conditions allow as well as short runways.
Gene Whitt

Traffic Pattern
Today was the second close call I've had this week. On Monday, someone without clearance, somehow cut in front of me while I was on short final. Today was a busy day at the airport, a lot of commercial traffic. Me and a 172 were doing touch and goes. He was put on right traffic and I was told to do the same. When I turned on downwind, I didn't see him. (Tell the tower when you can't see traffic. Ask them to call your base. ) We were both told to extend downwind. Still no contact. While looking for the 172, I let my heading stray. He turned base and I still couldn't see him. All of a sudden he appeared maybe 1000 feet ahead of me and was turning right toward me. After saying a few choice words to myself, I turned base. When I looked to the right for the runway. It wasn't there. I turned to what I thought was final. Turned out I let the heading drift so much that I was on what was
usually a left base. My head wasn't on right or something.

I'm really starting to rethink my flying career at this point. I try to be a safe pilot but my performance lately really debates that. I just don't know. (You are not alone. In the interval from when you were spending considerable time in the pattern with the instructor and when you began going places, you lost some of your skills. The best part of what happened is your realization that you needed some ideas.) Any criticism or motivation you can offer?

Gene's Advice
When complex situations such as pattern flying begin to give you trouble, I like to suggest going back and review the basics. In this case, pattern flying related to ground reference. 
First, at altitude, practice making some 90-degree turns at 80, 70 and 60 knots. Do the turns while level, climbing and descending in both left and right turns. Time them so you get some idea of how long it takes to make a 90-degree turn banked 30-degrees. Make all pattern banks at 30-degrees and never steeper. By making a constant bank in the pattern and leveling off 15-degrees early you will develop a consistency that will help keep things close to 90-degrees without timing. I tried a little poem during the turn and found that reciting it would give me 90-degrees every time at 30-degrees of bank. Remember the time will change, for each airspeed, but not by much. 

I know that you usually do ground reference watching ground references. What I am suggesting is that you do your ground reference using the directions at your home airport. Since you seem to have a tower do the patterns both left and right but referencing your heading indicator for upwind, crosswind, downwind, base and final. Make your turns all with a 30-degree bank. Do the patterns at pattern altitude and change airspeeds just as you would in landing but maintain pattern altitude.

As you fly the patterns you will note that any wind will affect just how rectangular the pattern will be. Once you determine the effect of the wind on your track over the ground you want to go back to where you first started and fly the patterns with an estimate of the wind correction required on any one of the four legs. suggest you do this for at least a half hour but maybe longer until you can fly the patterns using both the heading indicator and the ground references.

Last, add flaps, descents and go-arounds to your pattern but keep a good watch for traffic. Never make a turn without clearing before the turn. Be trimmed so you can let go of the yoke on every straight leg. Remember to lead with right rudder every time you add power or raise the nose.

You won't have a pattern traffic problem if you can increase your traffic watch and decrease the time you need to fly the aircraft. Do what you can to improve your flying skills in the pattern and you will have more time to watch for traffic.
More if you wish...

The Skills You Lose
The question is, how much time must pass before a pilot becomes unsafe? A student's who flys infrequently will need some review to get back the ability to perform past procedures. A delay of a week becomes a problem to a student. A week's pause is likely to be more serious for an older student. The space between lessons is a problem made worse if the study preparation for the next lesson is not properly directed, monitored and utilized. Often an instructor makes the assumption that the lesson of a week ago is a fresh memory of a student who has not flown recently. This assumption may be because the instructor just finished the same lesson with another student. Brings to mind how when teaching five periods of math in one day, I would become upset with the fifth perio d class not
remembering what I had taught to the first period class. Happens.

The length of time between each lesson is variable that is controlled by the instructor, student, weather and maintenance. I read on the internet the plaints of students who fault all the possible causes of delay. Their problems are real. Flying does teach very well not to try to do something about which nothing can be done. This is a part of flying. However, flying can be learned on the ground. Pilot sharing of events and problems is still learning to fly.  Over the years I have acquired a 'war story' for every occasion. Other pilots and students should start their collection and begin sharing.

Poor flying weather can be a teaching opportunity. The teaching will be better if it has been preceded by a preparatory flight such as I just did today. It was what I call a low-level VFR flight. We never got above 1200' nor below 800' but we flew as though we would be able to fly at 400'. We followd a route along a shoreline, avoided homes while cutting inland to avoid the high power lines in the vicinity of a bridge and again over a river. We made a point to avoid surface areas set aside as game reserves and stadiums. We flew across instrument approach routes at levels selected to avoid their step-down altitudes.

We flew to the right side of rivers, roads and valleys. We routed the flight past as many good landmarks as possible and at out destination airport overflew the airport runway before entering the pattern. All the way we monitored radio frequencies appropriate to nearby airports and IFR arrivals by radar. This flight was completely in good VFR weather but designed to show the student the preparation and knowledge required to deal safely with a MVFR situation.

Aircraft maintenance problems can be a very valuable experience if it can be done without disruption. A pilot can acquire knowledge not possible any other way just by watching and asking questions. I have been sumping aircraft for a few years now but a few days ago I noticed that a mechanic sumped somewhat differently than I did. Bad weather and mechanical problems can be turned into a learning opportunity.

I have always pushed the sump-cup pin well into the hole. I did this believing that it would allow any sediment to escape. The mechanic pushed it only enough to get a slow flow of the fuel enough to make a valid sample. I inquired as to why he sumped as he did. The answer was most revealing. It seems that the spring loading of the sump valve is such that a full insertion can cause the spring loaded plug to tilt and stick in such a manner as to prevent it to operate at all. All at once I understood what had happened years ago when I had to stand with my thumb over the sump hole for twenty minutes while waiting for a mechanic to come to my rescue. Lesson learned many years too late.

I have always taught with a personal policy about being late for a lesson. I will wait for ten minutes for a late student before contacting my wife as to whether he has called in. If not, I leave. I don't charge but he must get a different instructor after the next event. On my part, if I am late or fail to show, I do not charge for the lesson or the next lesson as the case may be. Because of my background as a child, I cannot abide by a situation where being late is a non-event. Promptness is a sign of respect between individuals. Tardiness is disrespect personified.

Judgments must be made as to what point it is time to break-off one activity an do something else. I limit Dutch roll practice to two minutes until they can be properly performed. I don't expect performance for at least five lessons.  Most ground reference lessons can achieve proper performance in two or three lessons if preliminaries are properly taught first. Review is a part of every lesson after the first. How much review will depend on the instructor's perception of student performance. One of the most difficult abilities to master is being able to detect the little things in performance that signal the beginning of fatigue.

There are differences in the symptoms of mental, emotional, and physical fatigue. As a teacher and instructor I have developed a sense that enables me to advise a student that a problem exists. I often make a statement somewhat like, "I am going to continue the lesson a bit longer because I want to build endurance (which I do) so don't worry about it." I don't know of a way to teach these skills to other instructors but if it comes to me I will. I do believe sensitivity comes to those who have overcome difficulties. I have had my share. Those of you reading this will take greater satisfaction in those areas of flying where the acquisition of skill took some special effort. You can be far more helpful to others when you have conquored the pain of failure. Been there, done that does not only
apply to places. Enough…I ramble…

My lessons always consist of a ground review of what will be considered new. The new is taught and performed first with the exception of things that can be reviewed enroute to the practice area. Since area familiarization is on-going (coming and going?) I try to take differing departure and arrival routes where possible. I try to plan every lesson so that we end on a student's successful high note. This is important since the last element of every lesson can always be a complement for things well done. The next to last thing covered is the study and preparation expected of the student for the next lesson.

The radio procedures are covered for all departures and arrivals to the extent needed to cover anything new.  Basic to the presentation of what to say is where to say it. This aspect is a part of every departure and arrival so that the radio work is integrated with situational and area awareness. A student must not only know where he is in relationship to the airport; he must know where everyone else is located according to radio calls by pilots and ATC. In my experience it is these aspects of radio work that fail/fall the most with the intervals between lessons and passage of time for even the most experienced pilot...

The longer the time between lessons or flying the greater will be the deterioration of the skills. The more complex the skills the more they will show deficiencies. Time is the eraser of all knowledge. Like riding a bicycle you will never forget how to fly. It is the flying well that goes. I have found that a student who quits after twenty hours of instruction will need ten hours to regain previous skill if resuming in less than two years.

I am presently trying to bring to proficiency one of my favorite students who overcame great difficulties.  The student went on into an instrument rating and has over three-thousand hours in complex high performance aircraft. After the death of the spouse the student gave up flying and sold the plane. Now, after a three year hiatus I am trying to rebuild the lost confidence and proficiency. It is not easy to overcome the inertia caused by years of habit, to rebuild the FAR knowledge required, to replace the gaps of disuse and the changes that occurred with time. In my opinion the old pilot needs more careful treatment and hand holding than would a younger person because there is less time for flying remaining.

Spending Makes the Cost of Flying Lower
--The more you fly the lower per hour your fixed costs
--Use home equity to reduce interest costs of airplane
--Spend the moony to buy the best aircraft you can.
--Don't buy a plane that needs upgrades. Installed upgrades lose 50 percent
--Buy a popular model
--Cosmetics are as important to price as mechanics
--Never over-price an airplane
--Outside labor costs are beyond affordability
--Cosmetics are easiest to fix
--Parts cost triple what you want to pay and twice what you will pay
--New paint (good job) gives fastest price boost
--Don't buy into internal corrosion
--Radios only get half value back.

With a Little-bit, with a Little-bit of Bloomin' Luck
There is an old pilot superstition accepted by my wife that all things bad happen in threes. When we work in the pattern the three areas where mistakes accumulate are altitude, airspeed and rate/angle of descent. These factors individually can be adjusted or ignored. Adjustment is the most likely instructional option. Instructors do not want students to develop a tolerance for inaccuracy. Aircraft flight manuals provide little guidance for precision except for gross weight performance parameters. Shortly after takeoff these aircraft recommendations no longer apply because the aircraft is below gross. In my analysis of techniques and procedures for VFR and IFR, I do not mean that my
way is the only way. Rather my way is a way that has worked for me.

Pattern altitude can be any one of three things, high, right on, or low. One of my first instructional mantras is that it is just as possible and EASY to fly precise altitudes, as it is to fly a few feet high or low. I teach level flight with the setting of a constant power (rpm), a set trim position and release of the yoke. Very small changes can be achieved by head position and more by use of the hands and arms. Rudder keeps the wings level and hands are best kept off the yoke.

In recent times, I have had to initiate IFR training with several different pilots. The one that I taught basic level flight using the above system was able to proceed directly into instrument approaches and in less than ten hours was performing at the 35 hour IFR training level. The others had an intense emotional transition from various yoke grips into recognition that a well-trimmed aircraft allows the use of two hands for things other than flying the airplane. Just last week I had a former student fly her first hands-off ILS to landing and this as a part of a flight review two years after getting the IFR ticket. A proficient pilot does not need an autopilot to hold altitude.

Now back on course, slight errors in altitude are not to be ignored. The pilot must develop a sensitivity for precise altitude. The sound of the engine and wind in the cockpit can be recognized for at least three power settings and three airspeeds. These are the minimums required for IFR or VFR. With the altitude tolerances required/allowed of private pilots it is no wonder that most pilots are less than proficient in acquiring and holding a selected altitude hands-on or -off.

Airspeeds are trimmed speeds. Trim an aircraft for a pre-selected level flight speed and additions and decreases in the power setting will give a climb or descent rate quite close to the trimmed level flight speed. With the fixed pitch propeller rpm is the measure of power. The aircraft will fly the trimmed flight speed in climb or descent with power changes and a bit of pilot controlled damping of initial oscillations.

The difficulties of changing from one speed to another lies in anticipation the throttle and trim setting required.  The smoothness of any transition is the criteria of excellence. Fixed pitch aircraft are supposed to climb at full throttle because excess fuel is used to cool the engine. This means that prior to takeoff your trim should be set for the best rate given in the POH and adjusted for density altitude. Anticipation of the takeoff settings is as easy as it gets. Leveling off at cruise and low cruise requires different techniques. For cruise you begin to level off at 10 percent of your climb rate. Make your initial trim adjustment which is usually one full turn of nose down trim, hold pressure to maintain altitude during the acceleration to cruise and then immediately reduce power to predetermined rpm and then make any fine trim/power adjustments required. Check with hands off.

To level off for low-cruise from a climb, you would again begin to level off before reaching the altitude but you reduce the power to the predetermined setting for low cruise and make the trim adjustment required. This is a trim movement you should keep track of and practice until you get is very close, quickly. Practice reversing the process to get a quick smooth transition from low cruise into a climb. Going from low-cruise to full cruise by anticipating the required trim change while holding altitude with yoke pressure while using full power. This will require holding forward yoke pressure which would be zero if you reduce to cruise power setting the moment you reach cruise speed. You should also practice the transition from cruise to low-cruise by reducing power so that it will bleed to the low cruise setting or become proficient in taking off extra power and adding it the moment low-cruise speed is reached. Again, anticipation is the name of the game.

Descents can be either cruise or low-cruise speeds. You should practice specific feet-per-minute descents at cruise and low-cruise. You will find that the lower rates of descent are more difficult to maintain and that the increased air density during descent requires very fine power and trim adjustments to maintain airspeed and rate of descent. Even VFR training should introduce the 500 fpm descent while making a 180 degree turn. Training should be given in changing airspeed during descent through the use of power and again with power and flaps. The procedures are different and require practice.

These airspeed transitions are an integral part of both VFR pattern flying and IFR procedures. Learning them in a two-place VFR trainer will make the transition to a more powerful IFR trainer logical even though requiring quicker anticipation of trim and power changes required. What I am getting at is that VFR training can and should be a logical progression into IFR training. I feel that setting achievement levels for private pilots too low is doing a disservice to the abilities and expectations possible.

Making the Unfamiliar, Familiar
--Concern is proportional to lack of preparation.
--Avoidance of a situation only increases the concerns existing.
--Trying to fake your way through unfamiliarity is doomed to embarrassment.
--The best way to become familiar is by accompanying someone who is familiar.
--The second best way to become familiar is with a briefing by someone who is familiar.
--Visit FBOs and ATC facilities, read bulletin boards, ask questions and seek help from knowledgeable people.
--The self-briefing requires reference materials acquired from the FAA, states, internet, guides, and AOPA.
--IFR into the unfamiliar is much easier than going VFR because everything is pre-ordained.
--The use of navaids other than GPS can be used but GPS has ushered in a new world of awareness.
--Even with GPS nothing quite beats having landmarks for getting both altitude and entry into airports.
--High on the scale of unfamiliarity is departing an unfamiliar airport. Especially true if you want to get back.
--Long flights are likely to be a succession of the unfamiliar. Ask locals about next airports along route.
--Pre-plan every arrival descent, initial callup checkpoint, two mile checkpoint and destination on airport.
--IFR departures are often unique and unpublished. Ask around about expected clearances.
--Advise ATC of your awareness deficiency, ask for and take all the help you can get.
--Check NOTAMS, expect the unexpected and ask for vectors that allow you to plan the unplanned.

Full Flap Landings
Assume landing a 172 with full flaps. I seem to recall one instructor telling me that as soon as the landing was stable (on the ground and slowing down) to raise the flaps as a) it put more weight on the mains and b) it reduced the amount of lift I was generating (and at that point I want to be more of a car than an aircraft.) This instructor went hysterical when I flipped the lever up, saying all my attention should be on the rollout. Any opinions on whether it makes a difference? - Mike

This is one of those issues where you will get one instructor telling you one thing and another one saying he/she does it differently. RULE ONE! Don't lose control of the airplane trying to clean it up right after touchdown.

Flaps up/down during roll out is a much misunderstood aspect of the landing roll. Although it's true that the wing is developing some lift after touchdown, that lift isn't enough to support the airplane. Flaps, especially full flaps at touchdown are creating aerodynamic drag, which is a greater benefit on a normal runway than any increase in braking efficiency at the high end of the roll out energy dissipation range you will get by raising them. Actually, braking shouldn't be done until the airplane slows down in the roll out where it's much more effective. In the initial stages of the landing roll, aerodynamic braking produced by the down flaps is much more effective.

Now, that being said......going into an extremely short field, you should raise the flaps to gain a braking advantage after touchdown....because you don't have the room for aerodynamic braking in this instance. I should note that this is a planned maneuver for a special circumstance. Normal use of flaps is to leave them down during the roll out and concentrate completely on aircraft directional control until slowed enough to begin cleaning up the airplane. The exact point you begin this procedure is up to you...just remember my golden rule when you start hitting switches.....find it.....touch it.....identify it.....use it!! -- 
Dudley Henriques

Flying with rudder and use of Rudder
I spend a fair amount of time working with my students to get them comfortable controlling the aircraft in cruise flight using just the rudder pedals. I gently remind my students that in cruise flight (can also be done in climbs and descents), if the airplane is trimmed properly, their hand should not be on the yoke. They should always be ready to take the yoke if the situation warrants, but I find that most fly better when they let go of the yoke. If it's bumpy, a light touch on the yoke is fine, but no more than that. I show them that gentle rudder pressure will raise a wing if it drops, and how to correct their heading using just rudder pressure, with perhaps a touch of back elevator if necessary.
I've found that this technique does a number of things:
* It teaches them to actually use the rudder.
* It demonstrates that wing dip can be corrected with rudder.
* It trains them to recover a low wing in a stall / spin using the rudder, rather than the ailerons.
* It minimizes the chance of attitude deviation when they look at their paperwork, or change a frequency.
* It makes cross-country flying easier.
* And when they move on to instrument flying, it makes holding a localizer a whole lot easier.
I just wish I had learned this trick when I was a student. ;

Bank in the Pattern
Bank angle in the pattern
I was the one who speaks in favor of 30 degree banks in the pattern. Therefore, I will give the reasoning behind my thinking.
1. That was the way I was taught. That is the way I teach.
2. Many visits and conversations to the tower lead me to believe that shallow pattern turns can be confused by ATC as to whether it is a wing wobble or a turn. ATC needs to know for sure since they use the indication of a turn to sequence traffic.
3. Aerodynamically there is a tendency for aircraft to level itself from a shallow bank and a similar tendency to go more steeply into steep banks. To counter these tendencies the pilot must hold aileron pressure to prevent changes. Pressures held to the yoke are subject to errors when distractions occur.
4. By my second flight lesson I have demonstrated to my students that the aircraft will fly circles in a 30-degree bank hands off. This only requires very light rudder pressures to hold the angle and about two or three buttons of nose-up trim to counter loss of lift. After my demo I have them do it in both directions. Try it yourselves.
5. With level flight at 1-G, the 30-degree bank only pulls 15/100ths G more. I don't believe that this a dangerous situation. It does get you around more quickly through your 'high-wing' blind area.
Randy and Kevin

Years ago I flew with a pilot who was so terrified of pattern turns that he always flew around airports so that he could make straight-in approaches. That is one extreme of the situation. On the other extreme, I flew with an older (80+) pilot in a three-tail Bellanca who only liked steep diving turns for every landing. I only flew with him once.
Gene Whitt

Of course, I have no idea what kind of airplane is involved. My 152, 172, and Mooney 231 books do not say a word about speed on pattern entry or downwind, just final approach speed. It is best to "go with the flow" until you turn final.
Bob Gardner

I agree with this also. There's entirely too much "fly by the numbers ALL the time teaching" going on in GA today. Pattern work should be taught concentrating on reaching a set of performance parameters by final approach instead of having the airplane set up at specific speeds and configurations at specific geographical points every time. At controlled airfields where traffic flow is a factor, there's absolutely no reason to bring an airplane to final approach or near final approach configuration on downwind. The envelope is more than large enough to accommodate a higher pattern speed geared to produce a reasonable outcome at the final turn. Using a rote function for pattern work might make the job of teaching and learning a bit easier initially, but instructors should be encouraged to begin teaching students to handle pattern work as dictated by circumstance as early as possible.
Dudley Henriques

Every airplane has a bank it likes best. In a shallower bank you have to keep aileron into the bank, because the airplanes natural lateral stability is trying to "unbank" you. In a steeper bank you have to hold some opposite aileron because the bank is trying to steepen. When you get it in the groove you don't need any aileron once the turn is started and it flys itself around quite nicely and is easy to coordinate. For most aircraft I have flown that "groove" is between 30 and 45 degrees somewhere. I prefer to put it in the groove and prefer not to say "don't exceed x degrees of bank in the pattern."

For what it is worth, in a 45 degree bank, the stall speed increases by fourteen percent. Your approach speed is normally around thirty percent above the stall speed. Even in a forty-five degree bank you still have a fifteen percent margin above stall. In a sixty-degree bank it increases by about forty percent and you will ant to pick up a little speed! :-)

You are more likely to spin in when you hold the bank shallow and then try to hurry your turn by stepping on the inside rudder. That puts you in a skid and the inside wing can drop out from under you quite easily.  You are much better off to just increase the bank a bit and stay well coordinated. I LIKE the feel of greasing around a turn in the groove. It feels good!

When I was learning to fly my instructor showed me how to do stalls and then gave me all kinds of warnings about avoiding spins. I'm sure she meant well, but it instilled such a fear of stalls in me that I was unable to practice them for a long time. I have given biennial flight reviews to older pilots who are still afraid of stalls even though they have flown for many years. I know a designated examiner in Oakland who is so afraid of spins that he always has students recover at the first sign of a stall rather than have them demonstrate a full stall.

I am now quite comfortable with practicing stalls and demonstrating them for my students, and I am also very sympathetic to others' fears of stalls. I think that the fear of stalls comes from many things: the feeling of loss of control, the fear of getting into the 'forbidden' spin, and instructors who do a poor job of teaching what causes a stall, what it is, how the plane behaves in a stall, and how to properly recover. We also get overly macho instructors who try to demonstrate stalls on the first or second lesson, often without doing anything to prepare their students, and so they scare their students for no good reason.

I see the same errors in initiating stalls and recovering from them all the time. When performing stalls and stall recoveries, however, remember that training planes are designed to demonstrate full stalls and their recovery. Once you get into complex aircraft the picture begins to change a little bit and some planes should not be stalled at all. Stall practice on a Citation jet, for example, largely consists of learning to detect the very light buffeting before a stall. You would never actually stall such a plane.

Use the rudders properly when entering the stall. You should be able to keep the wings relatively level throughout the maneuver with just rudder input on most training aircraft. With practice you can keep the wings level and the nose will just bob up and down.

Instructors often want to see the student push the nose down when initiating recovery. This is supposed to demonstrate positive control. I teach my students to release just enough back pressure on the yoke to break the stall. This gives minimal loss of altitude as required by the PTS. None of this pushing the nose over and heading straight for the ground stuff.

While I avoid demonstrating an actual spin at this level, I do have students go through what they would do for spin recovery. I have them stall the plane, use rudder to straighten it out, pull the power, and pitch for proper stall recovery, then do a normal stall recovery. I have them practice using the rudder throughout the stall so that they can see what the rudder does. I make them do it over and over again until they are comfortable with it.

I also see people try to rush through the stall recovery, as if it should be done in a full-scale panic. This is poor technique in dealing with any emergency, but especially with a stall (and a stall isn't even an emergency!). I want to see smoothness of technique with an almost metronome-like rhythm. If you use just enough pitch change to break the stall you have plenty of time to get everything else done without losing much altitude.

So, to sum up: You should not fear loss of control in the stall because you can control everything the plane does throughout the stall and its recovery. Even if you inadvertently get into a spin you should be able to choose what heading you come out of the spin on. Although the spin is forbidden, it is not the end of the world. Most training airplanes don't spin very well anyway: they have to be held there by main force and they constantly try to break out of it. As for the nature of stalls, go over your manuals and talk to your instructor about what really causes a stall and what an airplane does during the stall. The best way to conquer fear of the unknown is to make it the known. And if you have an instructor who just likes to show how good he is or he enjoys scaring his passengers, get a new instructor before the clown kills you.
C Campbell

Getting ready for my first solo flight, my instructor and I have been working on landing techniques quite heavily. I have no problems in setting up for an approach, or flying down the glide slope to the runway. However I am having a heck of a time setting up for a proper flare - either I am too high and land with a thump or too low (low enough that my instructor is worried about a prop strike).
I generally tend to sit up and lean forward in my seat for the landing, trying to see the runway, something for which my instructor has chided me. Trying to land without forward sight doesn't help, generally I tend to come in even higher. Any tips on how to approach for a more proper flare? Thanks,

Might try looking farther down the runway. Don't sit up in your seat (like your CFI said). Sit back and you will be in the same position all the time and your sight picture will be consistent. If you're sitting up, you are probably in a little different position each time, and your sight picture will also be different each time. Don't be afraid to look around some. The view out the sides will help give you a clue as to how high you are, too, especially when you start landing at different length and width runways. Sounds like you're getting fixated on the ground right in front of you. There's nothing there to hit (shouldn't be anyway ;-)), so don't worry about that. Take a good look around you when you get in the plane and when you are on the ground ready to take off. Get used to this picture and you will start to develop a better picture of how high you are on approach.
Mike Regish

Yeah, practice! You'll get there. Promise.
In the meantime, look at the flare as a smooth transition instead of an abrupt change. About one wingspan from the runway (thirty feet-ish unless you are driving a 767) you begin to gently slow the descent by pulling back on the yoke. In a perfect flare, the yoke is pulled back at a steady rate until the mains touch the runway. Then you keep pulling back at the same steady rate until the nose wheel touches, too. At this point, the yoke should be as far back as you can get it. Once the nose wheel touches, you release pressure back to neutral. That's a perfect flare. Unfortunately, no one has ever done one perfectly so this is still a theory.

All this is easy to think about on the ground but when you get in the plane and see the ground rushing up at You while on final, it's hard to resist the urge to YANK back on the yoke. But you'll be able to squash that urge soon enough. Good luck!
Jim Fisher

I had the same problems just recently, I couldn't get the flare right... My problem was that I had no idea of how high I was above the runway: 3 feet, 10 or 20. So I was either flaring too high, or too low, and often hitting the nosewheel first, ballooning, etc...

I tried to look sideways for the reference, but my instructor suggested not to do it. His point is that when you look outside, your body instinctively follows your eyes, so if you look left, you bank and steer left, and even it it's by small amount, it is disastrous in flare. That's what was actually happening in my case: every time I looked sideways I unconsciously steered plane that way, so he had to take controls from me every time I did that, to save the landing.

Now, without looking sideways, I couldn't judge the height, so I still couldn't flare right, and this was very frustrating, until one day my instructor remarked to sit up so that I could see the cowling. That made all the difference. When I could see only the dashboard, I couldn't tell the height, and as soon as I started leaning up and seeing cowling, I was able to judge the height almost perfectly (even at night).

Try this yourself, it should make it much easier for you, too. Don't look sideways, look forward, make sure you see the cowling, and runway ahead, and as you touch down, look at the end of the runway. You should be able to nail flares in no time. Good luck, and keep us posted of your progress.

Hope some of this helps. How about a cushion so that you can see over the nose when sitting normally?  You should be able to see the touchdown zone over the nose on final until you level off to flare...after that you should be looking at the other end of the runway, as others have said.
Bob Gardner

Either you are looking too close or your seat isn't high enough. I'm short (5'2") and I cannot land a 172 unless I'm sitting on a booster cushion. Even in the Navion with it's downward sloping cowl I use my cushion. If you are trying to look right in front of you it would be the same situation (can't see over the glare shield). Look farther down and adjust your seating arrangement so you can see.

I had similar problems. (still do sometimes) I was fixating on a single spot (the ground right in front of me) and when that spot would get covered up with the nose when I was in flare, landing gear beware. What I found that helped me was to force myself to consciously look around. Over time this should come naturally and I will take in the 'whole picture' just like I do when I'm taking S-curves with the motorcycle. 
Don S.

Well this group was an extraordinary help when I was having the same trouble so I'm going to try to give something back. I'm no CFI but here's my take on it.  First thing's first. Proper airspeed on the approach. My "technique" for the Cherokee is: abeam numbers throttle back hold altitude until airspeed is in the white arc 10 degrees of flap and start a descent around 400-600fpm at 85mph. On base, 25 degrees of flap maintaining 85mph. On final, when the runway is made full flaps70-75mph making small adjustments with power and pitch. Cross the threshold throttle closed.

Now imagine you are in the plane. You just crossed the threshold and closed the throttle and you are
descending toward the runway. There is a "pocket" that is right before it appears as if the runway is about to swallow the airplane. When you experience that sensation, yoke back to stop the descent. Controlling drift with aileron and keeping the nose aligned with the rudder. As you feel the airplane sink, keep bringing the yoke back to compensate...but don't pull back abruptly because you will balloon. As the runway disappears beneath the nose, use peripheral vision and feeling, doing everything you can to keep the wheels from touching. You will hear the stall horn and the wheels will touch. Still keeping the yoke back on the rollout, controlling direction with the rudder.

If you are training with around a 5000' runway, don't worry if you touch halfway down the runway. You're not really worried about short distance records at this point anyway :) Best Wishes!
Rodney PP-ASEL

Tracking to a VOR
How do I track to a VOR intersection
(Michael Horowitz)

Joe Cambell's:
"I know that you understand that all the headings on the side of the needle intercept the dialed-in radial." You understand this, right? If you fly any heading on the same side of the OBS ring as the needle, you will hit the radial dialed in.

Another way to look at this is to realize that a radial defines a line through the VOR (if you include both the TO and the FROM halves). One heading takes you parallel in one direction to that line and one takes you parallel in the other. Those are the two headings at the top and bottom of the OBS ring. (Obviously if you are on that line, the needles is centered, but if it's not centered, half of the headings you can fly will go towards that line, and half of them away from it. Headings that match the half of the OBS numbers on the same side of the OBS ring as the needle will cross the line.

 "I nodded yes. Now since you know that the two dialed-in radials intersect, they must have at least one radial in common."   This is kind of an odd thing to say this. What he means is that's there's lots of headings you can fly that will cross both of the dialed in radials.

He starts by dialing in the two radials that define the intersection. He's about to look at the two instruments and choose a heading (060) that is on the same side of the OBS on the bottom VOR as the needle is. He knows that 060 will give him a heading that will hit the radial he has dialed in on the bottom VOR. Why does he choose 060, and not 070? He chooses it randomly from the 180 headings on the side of the bottom VOR needle.

"He carefully put his thumb at 060 of the needle side of the bottom VOR, and slowly began walking his index finger around the needle side of the top VOR. He found 060."  Here he's checking to see if the heading he randomly chose on the bottom VOR (060) is also going to intersect the radial dialed in on the top VOR.

"Fly heading 060," he said. This had taken all of five seconds."
Here he's confirmed that 060 will also hit the other dialed in radial. What if it didn't? Then he'd have to choose again. All he's done is find any heading that's on the needle side of both the top and bottom VOR's. He didn't really have to choose at complete random from the 180-degree headings of the bottom VOR, he just glanced at both top and bottom and picked a valid heading that was on the needle side of both. By flying 060, he's not going directly towards the intersection, but he's going in the right general direction.  "One of these needles will probably start to center before the other one."

IOW, he knows he's not heading exactly right, so he'll cross one of the two radials that define the intersection first. At that point, the needle for that VOR will center. Then he's going to turn onto the radial he's just crossing and fly directly to the intersection.  "When it centers, you'll have two choices: to fly the heading at the top of its OBS or the one at the bottom. Which will you choose?"
Now he's arrived at the radial from one of the VOR's. All he needs to do is fly down it, but which way?  There are only two directions, towards the VOR or away from the VOR whose radial he is on, but he needs to go towards the defined intersection.  "You'll choose the heading that appears under the needle on the other VOR. When it centers, you're there."

Here's the answer. Only one of the two possible directions that keeps you on the radial you just found is a heading that's also on the same side of the OBS as the needle of the other VOR (the one that' not yet centered). Only one direction will still keep you moving to intersect the other radial.

Soft Field Landing
The Problem
I was reading the PTS last night and noticed that for soft field t/o it says to hold the airplane in ground effect until Vy is reached. This doesn't seem to make much sense. In a normal takeoff you lift the nose at Vr and keep climbing, holding the pitch once Vy is reached. Why would you do it differently for soft field, i.e. why not "rotate" from level flight in ground effect to climbing at Vr? In addition, it is actually quite hard to keep the plane from climbing out of ground effect once Vr is significantly exceeded, you have to push forward hard with normal t/o trim. Clearly once you have reached Vr you don't NEED ground effect to stay airborne. Any comments? Will I fail if I let the airplane start to climb when it "wants" to at Vr, do I have to struggle with it to keep it level at 6 feet AGL until I reach Vy?

Thanks... this is pretty much what I've been doing except I've been letting the plane start to climb at 5-60 knots (Vr is 55) rather than waiting to hit Vy at 73 (it's a C172 by the way - and the POH doesn't have very much to say). Surely it would be better to take the flap out asap (once above Vs1) rather than waiting for Vy? The argument against this is attitude change, I know, but given that you're fighting the yoke to keep the nose down and the plane in level flight, it would not be hard to deal with this. And it would then reach Vy quicker, without the flaps.

I will say that for "my" soft field takeoff, 10 degrees of flaps are required and as I do the takeoff roll keep weight off the nose wheel. As the airplane accelerates release some back pressure on the yoke and as the wings produce the required lift to "pop" it off the runway while still in ground effect. This speed will be approx 10 knots or so slower than required to climb at Vy. Stay in ground effect until Vy speed is reached than retract the 10 degrees of flaps slowly then climb out normally.
 In words, short field is no flaps.... soft field = 10 degrees of flaps...
Hope this helps.... --

The task is to get the wheels out of the make-believe mud as soon as you can, and then climb as effectively as you can. You'll get to Vy much quicker if you don't climb yet.  In addition, it is actually quite hard to keep the plane from climbing out of ground effect once Vr is significantly exceeded, you have to push forward hard with normal t/o trim.
Clearly once you have reached Vr you don't NEED ground effect to stay airborne. You'll probably be airborne before you're at Vr, but the point is that you really want to get to Vy. Will I fail if I let the airplane start to climb when it "wants" to at Vr,
Quite possibly.
Do I have to struggle with it to keep it level at 6 feet AGL until I reach Vy?
That would demonstrate your knowledge of the task. The only reason the plane climbs at Vr is that you are in ground effect. If you don't let it accelerate to Vy (or Vx), you will stop flying at about 1 wingspan above the ground. You will be below 1-G stall speed and will probably settle uncomfortably hard back down on the ground.

 The purpose of the soft field takeoff is to get the wheels out of the mud as soon as possible, but you need to use ground effect to do this. If you leave the wheels in the mud, like in a normal takeoff, you might never reach takeoff speed. Once the wheels are free, when the plane is flying in ground effect, you will be able to accelerate, but you need to reach a speed at which the plane will fly after it leaves ground effect. 

Safe Altitude Selection
As a new student pilot I'm a little confused by Gene's statement below. Can someone explain how 2600' to 2900' is inherently safer than 2500' or 3000'? Just curious -- thanks... --
Jeff Luebke

Jeff, et al, The true life analogy I like to use is comparing where you fly within 3000' agl with those who drink on New Years Eve. Though a near non-drinker as an old man, I was raised in a bootleg, nightclub life until after WWII. People in the business called New Years Eve amateur's night because all the non-drinkers used it as a drinking opportunity.  So is flying at altitudes ending in 000 and 500 used by amateurs just because that is the way they were taught?

Instructionally, it seems easier to teach students to fly with the altimeter 1000-foot needle straight up or down. This means that a very high percentage of pilots are taught to do maneuvers and fly at specific altitudes ending in 000 or 500 even when within 3000 feet above ground level. Those students who then become pilots continue to fly altitudes as they were taught.

On the other hand, more seasoned instructors, and I teach students to fly at unusual altitudes when below 3000' AGL. When in familiar territory I very much prefer to fly below 3000' AGL for the sheer pleasure of sense of speed and scenery. Flying westward I would choose altitudes such as 2850' or (2l6l5l0l' I have a finger tendon disease known as 'Dupuytren's Contracture' in my right ring finger and it causes many unwanted 'l's in my typing and will get worse with time.) 2650' When eastbound I prefer 2750' or 2350'.

For Jeff and others who wish to do an interesting experiment you should listen on a busy G.A. frequency and log all the radio calls that give altitudes into three columns.
1. Altitudes ending in 1000 or 500
2. Climbing or descending different than ending in 000 and 500
3. Level at altitudes other than ending in 000 or 500.

A second even more valid exercise that I have found that validates avoidance of altitudes within 3000' AGL is to place yourself in the vicinity of a busy airport and its most active call-up point. Fly back and forth across this call-up point at right angle to the common arrival route on a busy traffic day using a suggested unusual altitude. Don't do this in an area where I have taught or lectured. By the time you have done these, as I have over the years, you will soon realize the validity of avoiding being over common call-up points or even flying at altitudes ending in 000 and 500 within 3000' AGL
Gene Whitt

Glide Distance
The Problem
How can I calculate glide distance with the wind as a variable?

The Solution
--Select a field where reaching it is not a problem.
--Use any excess altitude to plan your arrival
--Never land downwind if it can be avoided
--"Best glide speed" is the best only for no wind.
-- It's slower for a tailwind, and faster for a headwind.
-- Fly the no-wind best speed for a tailwind
--The first thing you have to answer is how fast you are going to glide.
--Add in half the headwind component for a headwind to the best glide speed
--It's always better to go a little too fast than a little too slow.
--You don't gain much slowing for the tailwind,

Altimeter Errors due to Temperature
The Problem
Can someone please explain to me the altimeter error caused by the differential of temperature (while flying from one place to another)? What I cannot seem to understand is that since the warm air is less dense and therefore has a much lower pressure than cold air, wouldn't it be more logical to assume that the altimeter would read higher than the actual height? Instead of that I read that while flying from a cold air to a somewhat warmer the altimeter reads lower. Please someone explain...

The following is straight form the FAA "Pilots Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge. Effect of Nonstandard Pressure and Temperature.  If no means were provided for adjusting altimeters to nonstandard pressure, flight could be hazardous. For example, if a flight is made from a high pressure area to a low pressure area without adjusting the altimeter, the actual altitude of the airplane will be LOWER than the indicated altitude, and when flying from a low pressure area to a high pressure area, the actual altitude of the airplane will be HIGHER than the indicated altitude. Fortunately, this error can be corrected by setting the altimeter properly

 Variations in air temperature also affect the altimeter.
On a warm day, the expanded air is lighter in weight per unit volume than on a cold day, and consequently the pressure levels are raised. For example, the pressure level where the altimeter indicates 10,000 feet will be HIGHER on a warm day than under standard conditions. On a cold day, the reverse is true, and the 10,000-foot level would be LOWER. The adjustment made by the pilot to compensate for nonstandard pressures does not compensate for nonstandard temperatures. Therefore, if terrain or obstacle clearance is a factor in the selection of a cruising altitude, particularly at higher altitudes, remember to anticipate that COLDER-THAN-STANDARD TEMPERATURE will place the aircraft LOWER than the altimeter indicates. Therefore, a higher altitude should be used to provide adequate terrain clearance.
A memory aid in applying the above is "from a high to a low or hot to cold, look out below."
Ron Natalie

The old rule is "high to low, look out below; low to high, lots of sky!" As you pass from a high-pressure area to a lower pressure area the altimeter does indeed read higher. Therefore you are LOWER than you think you are, and more likely to be too low on approach. You are LOW because the altimeter is reading too high.
Remember, a pressure altimeter measures pressure, not altitude. Therefore, in warm air which is less dense than cold air, you have to climb higher to go through the same pressure difference. In air at the standard temperature, a 1-inch Hg change in pressure is roughly 1,000 feet or one revolution on the altimeter. If the air were denser, a 1-inch Hg change in pressure would occur in less than 1,000 feet. However, the altimeter would sense a pressure change of 1-inch Hg and change by one revolution, showing a change of 1,000 ft, which is higher than you have actually climbed.

 To give you some feel for how much of an effect this has, I would recommend that you get out your e6b flight computer and calculate true altitude for the traffic pattern altitude on the coldest and hottest day of the year of your local airport. We tend to use the saying "from high to low, hot to cold, look out below." From a practical point of view, we really only care if the temperature is colder than standard temperature. This is the dangerous case when you might get a little too "up close and personal" to a tower or terrain.

Emergency Procedures
"Michael Horowitz wrote,
Some emergency procedures need to be memorized and made automatic:
Engine failure during takeoff, and immediately after,
Engine fire during start and in flight;
Electrical fire in flight and Cabin fire.

Others appear to be in the category of "know what to do initially, but you have time to locate and read the checklist" variety. Which do you teach and practice with your students and which do you simply mention without practice?

Is there a thought process you have them go thru or is it rote memory? Engine Failure during TO. Answer: "We should stop the plane as fast as we can" Shut down the A/C - Mixture off, Mags off, Power off. Items we had to do RIGHT NOW, and items to do after we had caught our breath.

So, I guess what I'm looking for are the steps in guided discovery for each of the procedures. Also, some steps don't seem to fit, or I don't see the logic: specifically, Engine Failure during flight: try for a restart; in that case, why are they telling me to turn carb heat ON? Again under FIRES DURING START: why do they ask for "throttle full open" if the engine fails? I think it's the "guided discovery" questions I'm looking for

Emergencies in an airplane come in two forms; immediate and deferred. You can write a book on what's involved here, and discussing this issue on a simple one answer basis is quite difficult. You can state some basics, but the meat of the subject; cockpit resource management, error management, over tasking, etc, are subjects unto themselves. A complete answer to your question would have to examine each aspect independently, then integrate that aspect into the overall scenario.

Without getting into it too deeply here, it's safe to say that pilots in general should be taught to fly defensively; in other words, "looking for trouble". This is a mind set I have tried to instill in my students all through my career. Complacency in an airplane will kill you, make no mistake about it! A pilot should always fly in a state of awareness that I have always called "the edge".

Comfortable........confident........relaxed.......BUT NOT TOO RELAXED!!!!! I like to describe this optimum feeling as being like a cocked rifle. The pilot's mind is a finger on the trigger....comfortable ...but alert!!!!

 The exact way to handle each type of emergency is beyond the limits of the question. I will say this however.  Deferred emergency should be handled with checklists used during the emergency. Immediate emergency requires much more concentrated effort. In the case of takeoff emergencies, there won't be time for a checklist. The pilot will have to react instantly. This means a well rounded knowledge of emergency procedure BEFORE TIME, and a defensive mind set that is prepared and capable of handling such a scenario instantly as it happens. I concentrate heavily in the area of psychological preparation in my approach to training for instant emergency. I teach my pilots to EXPECT a panic flow when it happens...and charge right through that panic flow into automatic response. I like my pilots to be completely familiar with their airplane's flight envelope, and know at any moment where they are in that envelope, and where they can take the airplane within that envelope from where they are, and in the configuration they are in, when and if an emergency happens.

 The long and short of it is this. Be prepared ALL the time; mentally, and procedure wise. Use a check list if you have the time, but know your basic emergency procedures by heart for the airplane you're flying. Under 500 feet and you won't have much time to read!!!! Last but not least; be aware all the time of where you are and where you can go if something goes wrong.....then EXPECT it to go wrong, and be pleasantly surprised when it doesn't! :-)
Dudley Henriques

Solution #2
Ah. Guided discovery. My favorite method. ;->Here's an example that I use with my students:

Engine failure in flight:
* Why would an engine quit in flight? Mechanical failure, or loss of combustion.
* Can you do anything about a mechanical failure (i.e. blown cylinder, thrown rod, etc.)? Nope. Land now.
* What would result in a loss of combustion? Insufficient air, fuel, or heat.
* What would cause insufficient air in the engine? Induction ice or carb ice.
* How do you resolve that? Use alternate air, or apply carb heat.
* What would cause insufficient fuel in the engine? Incorrect mixture, empty tank, fuel blockage, broken fuel pump.
* How do you resolve that? Mixture rich, fuel selector on full tank, fuel pump on.
* What would cause insufficient heat in the engine? Bad magneto. * How would you resolve that? Test the magnetos in isolation.

 Do the same for each emergency procedure. Start with "How?" or "Why?" a situation would exist, then go one step at a time.

There is a conflict in the teaching of emergencies between the statistical probabilities, the FARs for pilots, mechanics, owners, the manufacturers, the airports, and ATC. All of these make the complex transport system called aviation. In our area of aviation called general aviation the major cause of all accidents is well known. 80 percent of the accidents are caused by pilots but usually in conjunction with supporting causes.

 The accident prevention side of instruction is most often a reflection of what the individual instructor has been taught and learned previously about flying accidents. Statistically, I can expect to fly 65,000 hours before having an accident where someone is even hurt. I should live to fly 65,000 hours. I wish. I have had a student freeze on the rudder pedals of a Piper so that we took out an airport runway sign. Cost me a thousand to repair the fuel tank. I have had an engine fail at 800 feet after takeoff over a forest of dogwood trees in the Ozarks. I pulled the mixture in anticipation of a landing in a lead mine drainage pond, only to have the engine start running again. Fifteen years later I learn that the failure and cure were symptomatic of a stuck carburetor float. Two near-misses once with a Bellanca Viking and the other with a KC-10 out of Travis AFB. That's it. No other incidents or near accidents. Being lucky helps.

I teach avoidance of accident situations in preference to spending time doing accident simulations. You should note that most of these items do not appear as a part of the PTS series. My web site has many of my survival techniques but a short list would include:
--Complete preflight of aircraft, intended flight, material required and safety procedures en route. (PTS)
--Clearing the runway approaches before taking runway. Saved my life twice, once was enough.
--Clearing maneuvers during climb-out. Dutch rolls are one way.
--Unusual altitudes below 3000' agl.
--Knowing where to avoid traffic. Don't fly over common checkpoints.
--Always giving my altitude during radio call-up and ask for altitude of others who don't give altitude.
--Emphasize unfamiliarity with area over the radio when it exists.
---Knowing when to stay on the ground. Think ahead of the present into the future. (PTS)
--Knowing how to make the best use of ATC and other facilities. Ask for help. Visit facilities when able.
--Use opportunities to get fuel, go to the bathroom and eat. Allow extra time, every time.
Gene Whitt

Greaser Landings
Sorry for bugging you again.. Maybe you can answer this.. My landings have yet much to be desired, but I've noticed that earlier on when the instructor was doing landings, his were not that great either... (The CFI I did my disco flight with greased 'em every time), will this affect how I do my landings, at least until I go solo, and "find a grove"? I think I may be one of his first students.

A technique I have used is to do a series of go-arounds. Initially we perfect the procedure at altitude and then go to a dual runway airports so that as many left patterns can be flown as right patterns. The first one to each runway is done at 200 feet and not climbing until I have cleaned up the aircraft and accelerated to climb speed.
The second one we do at 100 feet. |
The third at 50 feet
The next at 25 feet

The next just before touchdown with the nose above the horizon. This requires immediate full power and a very careful slow milking off of the flaps while staying close to the ground. Sometimes on the last one and the power about 1200 rpm, I have the student just hold it there until the aircraft lands. It takes a delicate touch. Ask your instructor to demo it.

Contrary to popular student opinion, you are not landing the airplane. The airplane lands itself only when it is ready to land.  Do not relax the yoke on touchdown; hold it back even more. It is important that you realize that the last six inches of yoke movement includes lifting up. A tight grip while pulling back will twist the yoke and make it stick. A one (or two) finger hold in back of the yoke allows you to lift up and get full elevator movement. Do it on the ground before starting the engine and you will see what I mean. A greaser is NOT a good landing. A good landing has a soft 'thump' and will not cause the aircraft to bounce. Instead, the plane will kind-of squish with the nose wheel off the ground. Keep after me and I'll hit your hot button yet.

The Problem
Uncontrolled Airport Pattern Entries
Is there an absolute way to enter the airport pattern, I was taught to enter on the 45 to the downwind but if coming from a direction from south for rwy 9 we fly over the airport traffic pattern by 500 ft then hook around to enter the 45 to dwn wind for 9 but I see alot of pilots enter the traffic pattern from the south for rwy 9 by cutting across midfield at pattern altitude calling "crosswind midfield entry for rwy 9" then turning downwind, so there is never an entry to downwind from a 45. Is this legal and taught as a safe entry into a pattern?

Advice (opinion)
You should absolutely enter every traffic pattern at non-towered fields according to the locally-established or published traffic pattern procedures. And often that's not from the AIM (which is a general guide for cases where nothing to the contrary is published), but rather from sources such as the Airport/Facility Directory, information published in various airport guides, informational pamphlets developed by the airports themselves, or even by calling ahead to a local FBO for information if you've never been to that particular airport before.

Note 91.103, Preflight Action requires "Each pilot in command shall, before beginning a flight, become familiar with all available information concerning that flight," which logically includes relevant traffic pattern procedure information.

Example: the published traffic pattern procedure here at Santa Paula states, "No straight-in or base leg approaches, no overhead approaches, no 45 entries and no crosswind entries over runway. Enter pattern from extended downwind leg or enter from a crosswind leg at least 1 mile beyond the departure end of active runway."

Entering the pattern here according to the general AIM procedure is in direct violation of published pattern procedures for the airport. Furthermore, if one wanted to file a report with the FAA against a pilot who entered the traffic pattern contrary to published procedures and practices (except in an emergency), it would likely result in an enforcement action against the pilot. Be safe and smart out there,
Rich Stowell

Internet Landing Advice
Just writing to say thank you for your letters and your website. I got my Private Pilot License on November 17th.

Gene Whitt <> wrote:

I have changed a few words in your response to clarify the meaning. Gene
You should not expect the same effects in high density landings and full gross landings
Weight regardless of position:
Weight affects both best glide speed (higher), stall speeds (lower), takeoff and climb performance

Position of weight makes control differences even if not heavy.
Weight that gives an aft loading on the CG range will affect the sensitivity of yoke movement and aircraft reactions (lower stall speeds)

In high density landing you should expect
To have reduced ground effect
To have increased ground speed
Reduced power, climb, acceleration,

In high density landings or landings with heavily loaded aircraft, expect the following: (Note there are differences as above)
- greater sink rate (Not always, many variables)
- greater ground speed
- light yoke (for heavily loaded aircraft only) (Aft loadings)

So as a pilot, I need to continue to keep the end of the runway covered with the nose as in any other landing (but know that it will take less back pressure > to achieve this). And I will expect to float a greater ground distance than usual though the time of float during the flare will be the same.
But your response has raised one more question. See below ...

----- Original Message -----
From: "Madhavan Thirumalai"
To:Gene Whitt
Sent: Friday, September 10, 2004 5:31 PM
Subject: Landing questions

Hello Gene,
I am a 30 hour student flying Cessna 172s. I found your website using Google and it has really has been a huge help. The simple suggestion "Cover the end of the runway with your nose" fixed my landing problems – I was flaring too late until I read that tip. Thank you ery much.

Today, I flew with 3 people in the plane and landed at Tracy airport where the density altitude was 3000 feet because of the heat. I had the hardest time landing.
First, the ground came up faster than I was used to. There seemed to be no ground effect at all.

Second, I could never cover the end of the runway with my nose as I am used to. I am not sure why. The
aircraft was tail heavy because of the extra passenger but I don't think that that had anything to do with it.
Pulling the nose that high just felt wrong. Does that make sense? Or was my timing off because of point one above?

Third, I am used to my stall warning horn go off on landings but today it never did. On my first two landings, the aircraft bounced and I found myself 10 feet in the air and had to go around.

Any thoughts?
How does your approach speed, round out and flare change because of a loaded plane?
How does your approach speed, round out and flare change because of density altitude?

Another question about landings in cross wind – I have no trouble holding the centerline on the approach. But once I am over the threshold and have begun my round out, I tend to fly coordinated turns close to the ground and in ground effect. I land left of center line but have decent alignment and no apparent side load on the landing gear. Is this habit of flying coordinated turns low to the ground ok or is this is a bad habit that I ought to break as soon as possible?
Thanks for your time.

Gene Whitt wrote:
I, too, was at Tracy 9-10-04 at about 5 pm with density altitude of 3300.
I presume that you ran a weight and balance for your load. The POH figures makes me believe you were right at gross.
Your reaction to the density altitude is quite typical. First of all you get the sensation that the ground is going past much faster than usual and coming up much faster than usual. IT IS.

Probable cause for the relatively hard landing is that at some point you began to fly the aircraft into the round-out and flare without due regard to the airspeed indicator.

Are you suggesting I look at the airspeed indicator during landings?
Thanks for your patience,

I never look at the airspeed indicator after short final. I time the round out based on vertical height, and I time the flare when I get the sinking feeling.
Madhavan, the sense of excess speed in your peripheral vision caused you to sense that you were too fast. You were faster than usual because of the density altitude. You always fly the indicated airspeeds regardless of the density altitude.

The C-172 becomes very light on the elevator control with someone in the back seat. This means that the usual pressure on the yoke needed to cover the end of the runway is much less. If your rear seat passenger was heavier than your right seat passenger you made the sensitivity of the elevators much worse. Perhaps legal but very sensitive. Your normal pressure would have caused the extreme nose high situation.

My bet is that you used a full grip on the yoke instead of only two fingers.
You also have become too familiar with the ground effect as it exists at cooler temperatures.
Getting slow in the round out and flare means that you will not have the ground effect you need to make a soft
landing. You will be moving faster than usual, expect it. In density altitude landings you will have a higher ground speed. Accept it.

Your go-around at density altitudes should have been more difficult.
Your entire (go-around) procedure would have gone better the closer you may have stayed to the ground. You need the ground effect to get the acceleration needed to climb as well as carefully milking off the flaps to
get the speed to climb. This takes some getting used to. The load was only partially a part of the problem.

One of my favorite pastimes every spring is to watch the twins make their first hot-day landings after the cool days of winter.

The little known fact about density altitude landings is that every aspect about the landing is different except for ONE thing. Properly performed the TIME of the flare will be exactly the same as for any other landing. The speed will be faster, taking the aircraft over a greater distance.

In the future try to get a bit closer to the ground during your round-out and be more patient in your yoke movement to let the aircraft float further as it will. Just keep the nose covering the end of the runway, no more and no less, and you will get the stall warner and the landing you're looking for.

As for your crosswind problem once entering into the flare you must keep the nose straight with the rudder and lower the upwind wing into the wind to maintain runway position. Common cause of the coordinated turns in the flare is lack of Dutch roll training and experience.

Getting Started
There are a few reasons that can keep anyone from flying.
Health, age, time, money,
Learning can begin at any age
Gliding can be done at 14
At 16 you can solo
My oldest student was 81 (I am 81 now)
Use other people's money for as long as they will let you. (Parents, friends, banks)
You can figure costs at $100 per hour and going up every day.
Don't start until you have several thousand dollars to get you to solo
Once soloed you can fly, for a while, for less by yourself
Your best plan is to become a flight instructor (age 18) as quickly as you
can afford it. Then people pay you to ride with them.
Make friends with pilots. Hang around airports.
Be clean, polite, friendly, ask to help, ask questions.
Don't beg, pilots will take you flying when allowable and able.
Watch for old flying magazines at airports. Use the Library
Read the book named, "Stick and Rudder"
Read about airplanes at every opportunity.
Develop a flying vocabulary...Your thinking is limited by the words you know.
Use the Internet. There is no limit to what you can learn about flying there.
If flying stops being fun (enjoyable) quit. Life is too short not to enjoy it.
Your email was a giant step into a world of enjoyment.

Is It Too Much to Learn?
"Bubba" wrote in message
Hello everyone,
I'm not sure where to begin. I read this group daily, but rarely post to it since I'm not currently in training. However, I have really been thinking about the short time that I was able to fly and learn a few basic things about flight. First off, learning to fly is not as easy and one might think. There is so much stuff to learn and I guess I really didn't think about that before I started into it. I just went up
for the intro flight, thought it was really awesome and signed up to come back the following week for another lesson. I read some your posts about taking the checkrides, learning to land, flight planning, solo flying, cross country flying, etc. and it literally scares the hell out of me when I think about how much I'm going to really have to concentrate and learn. There is just so much that you have to learn in
order to "earn your wings."

Secondly, the more I think about the CFI that I started with, the more I think that maybe he really wasn't the right one. I'm 31 years old and he was 24. He had all kinds of endorsements for his PP license. But honestly, it seemed like he was just up there for the fun of it and really wasn't letting me fly the airplane. Another thing that kind of ticks me off about him is that when I told him I had to give up my lessons for a few months due to lack of funding, it was as if I never existed. I tried to maintain a relationship with him through phone and e-mail, but he never returned my calls or messages. I even gave him my back-up copy of X-plane 8 that I had bought to aid in my flight training. Didn't even hear so much as a thanks or anything from him. And it's not like he was really covered up with other students. Besides myself, he only had two other students that were learning to fly under him. Am I just being too hard on the guy, or do my complaints have merit?

Anyway, just wanted to put my thoughts to paper (or computer) and see what everyone else thought. I really, really want to continue my lessons someday, but wow, when I think about all the stuff that I have to learn, it just scares the living daylights out of me.
Thanks for listening,

Hi Terry;
Just a few thoughts here on what you have posted;

The workload in learning to fly can be distributed within the program, so don't let that become a prime motivator in any decision you make concerning continuing on with your lessons. It seems daunting when you look at it in its entirety, but if taken on piece by piece with competent instruction and guidance, almost anyone can learn what has to be learned. This instructor of yours is another matter. I won't dig too deeply into this, as I'm not there, don't know you or the CFI.

Basically, what I have always done with a new primary student is to establish right off the bat that I will be allowing the student to handle the airplane with minimum intervention from me, while at the same time establishing complete confidence in the student that no matter what the student does with the airplane, I am fully capable of correcting it before it becomes a safety issue. his method opens the door for the student to experiment with the airplane while at ease that I won't let him/her get into trouble I can't correct. What I'm saying to you is this, I always taught CFI's to grade themselves in part by the amount of time they spent OFF the controls!

Good teaching technique for a CFI requires a strong positive verbal approach and minimum physical intervention with the controls. The better the CFI, the more that CFI anticipates and corrects an impending error without taking the controls away from the student. Naturally, there are times during a dual session when the instructor will take over to demonstrate or correct. This is normal procedure, but if its a correction, even then the instructor should see the correction coming and intervene smoothly and just enough to put the student back in the safe area.

Actually, a REALLY good CFI can intervene to correct an error without causing the student to lose confidence. Its being able to do things like this that take flight instruction from science and propel it into an art form :-)))))

Anyway, try and find a CFI who lets YOU do the flying and you'll be fine. This type of instructor is the type you deserve as a student pilot. Best of luck to you, and if I can help you in any way, don't hesitate to ask.
Dudley Henriques

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