Effects of Controls (1)

I’d originally booked two lessons this week on Wednesday and Thursday – unfortunately due to poor weather neither of them happened. Fortunately there was a space for this morning, such that with a bit of rearrangement of my day I could fit it in, and fortunately the weather was good enough…

I’d already had the ground briefing on Wednesday, so after some initial confusion as to which aircraft we would be using (the one I was initially holding the keys for wasn’t there – it had been taken for maintenance), we went out and I started the checks on G-HERC.

The external checks seemed to go OK – I needed a few reminders about things, but nothing major which was good. I did spot that whoever flew it last yesterday had forgotten to put the control lock on (this locks the ailerons and elevator so they can’t get blown about in the wind). We had a bit of trouble with the door to the luggage compartment not wanting to close, but Catherine (my instructor) sorted that out.

The internal checks I was very happy with – I didn’t really struggle to locate anything etc (clearly studying the picture of the cockpit I’d been given after my last lesson paid off). Unlike the ground lesson when Catherine did it, I started the engine this time – apparently I did everything right (I didn’t hold the starter too long or anything), which was good.

I managed the radio call to get taxy clearance without making a mistake, though apparently I was perhaps talking a little too quickly¬† – I know from when I’ve done public speaking in the past that I tend do that when I’m nervous – hopefully over time this will sort itself out (apparently this is the opposite of most people who are rather slow and speed up!).

My taxying was OK – not the smoothest in the world but then it is only my second time doing it. We got to the hold (a point prior to entering the runway that ATC clear you up to), at which point I did the power checks (these are to make sure that everything is behaving correctly with the engine, as this is obviously something you want to discover before attempting to takeoff), and then made the call to get departure clearance. This was given straight away (the airport wasn’t that busy which was nice), so onto the runway we went.

Catherine did the take-off and took us out to the area we’d be doing the lesson in.

We went through the primary effects of the controls, then the secondary effects, including a demonstration of the start of a spiral dive (this is where the aircraft gets in to a state where it’s yawing heavily in one direction, which causes it to roll in that direction, which causes it to yaw further etc), and recovery from it.

Unfortunately there wasn’t a visible horizon due to the cloud cover and general haze etc, so we didn’t spend any time practising holding a datum attitude as this would have been pretty much impossible.

Next was practising with the trim (this is a way of setting things up so you aren’t continually having to apply forward or backward pressure on the yoke, i.e. so you can let go of the controls and the aircraft doesn’t start climbing or descending) – the principles of this made sense, and I found getting a coarse trim relatively straightforward (fine trimming is going to be quite difficult though I suspect).

All too soon it was time to head back – as we came in towards the airfield Catherine talked me through what she was doing as we did an overhead join, then followed the circuit round to land.

After landing, I took us off the runway and did the post landing checks, then took us back to park. Lining up with the tie down holes etc is quite tricky, but with Catherine’s guidance I managed it. After that, it was just a case of shutting down the engine and doing the post shutdown checks.

All done, it was just a case of filling out my logbook (which now shows a nice 2 hours flying time), and paying the bill.

Next lesson will be effects of control part 2, which covers a few other bits and pieces such as the effect of airspeed and propeller slipstream etc – this is booked in for next Wednesday (weather permitting), as is my CAA medical (which is basically to check that I’m not going to drop dead at the controls, and necessary before I can fly solo – while this won’t be for quite a while I want to get it out the way as there’s no point paying for lots of lessons only to find out I can’t get the medical!).