25 July 2010

Lesson Three: Slow Flight and Stalls

On Friday 23 July, I took my third lesson.  Since my usual runway 16R was closed, I finally got to takeoff and land on the 5,700-foot-long runway 16L.  This is the runway that I have thrice mistakenly tried to line up my final approach on.

After the takeoff climb, I was instructed to put on the hood to simulate flight in Instrument Meterological Conditions (e.g. clouds).  This narrows my view so that I can see only my instruments.  To pass the FAA practical test, I will need to demonstrate that I can perform various maneuvers under the hood.  This was harder than I thought it would be.  My CFI showed me a few instrument scan strategies (hub-and-spoke, etc.) during the pre-flight briefing.  When I was in the air, though, I tended to fixate on certain instruments--like the heading indicator when I realized I was drifting off heading.

Then we moved on to slow flight and stalls.  My CFI demonstrated slow flight, a power-off (landing) stall, and a power-on (takeoff) stall.  For the power-on stall, you slow the plane to rotation speed (55 knots for the C172), apply full power, and hold a high pitch attitude until it stalls.  The stall warning starts whining a second or two before the break, and the nose drops suddenly.   I thought the break was going to be violent and roller-coaster-like, but it was really pretty tame.  My CFI told me that I could make the stall more hairy by entering it with more aggressive elevator pressure.  I'll think I'll work up to that.  I dropped my left wing a little bit during the recovery and need more practice.

We flew to Culpeper Airport and I did two landings and a takeoff on runway 22.  Again, we followed railroad tracks back to Manassas.  With other traffic in the pattern, my instructor took the controls before touchdown on 16L to extend our glide further down the runway before I performed the roundout and flare.  It was a courtesy move--otherwise we'd be taxiing down the long runway forever in that slow Cessna.

Flight time this lesson: 1.5 hours dual, 0.2 hours simulated instrument
Total time to date:        4.1 hours dual, 0.2 hours simulated instrument   

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