Stalls, spins and circuits

Me measuring fuel in the morning. The historical functionalist Malmi terminal building from 1938 in the background.

Me measuring fuel in the morning. In the background the historical functionalist Malmi terminal building which was completed in 1938.

The second week of flight training and I have done slow flying at critically low airspeed, stall recovery and spin avoidance. I have also done my first rounds in the traffic circuit as well as a few touch-and-go landings.

The week shrunk into a 3-day school week, because our teacher had his own checkride on Thursday, but a lot of action fit into this short week anyway.

Slow flying was done at 1.1 x stall speed, 44 kt flaps up and about 40 kt flaps down. Even though 44 kt is about 80 km/h it feels very slow up in the air. Especially doing slow speed turns the plane seems to not be moving at all. The objective in practising slow flying was to learn to maintain balanced flight, understand the relationships between the angle of attack, power, speed and yaw as well as learn to recover to normal speed while maintaining the altitude. This lesson demanded concentration somewhat.

Waiting for take-off clearance by runway 36. Photo: Tommi Likonen

I’m waiting for a take-off clearance by runway 36. Photo: Tommi Likonen

Slow flying was followed quite naturally by stall recovery. We had two flights covering the incipient and full stalls, in level flight as well as during a turn. The objective was to recognize the incipient stall, the stall warning, decelerating speed, unrealistic nose attitude, and be able to recover the plane. The sequence going into the stall was first flying slow, then completely pulling the power to idle and pulling the nose up until the stall warning went off. The first thing to do when recognizing a stall is to push the nose down and gain speed. Once the speed reaches safe numbers, you can start pulling the nose up to gain back the lost altitude.

I expected a little bit more movement during a stall, but the plane doesn’t seem to just drop out of the sky. The lift decreases greatly but doesn’t disappear completely. I noticed I had some colored mental images about what is going to happen. Maybe influenced by movies?! The last stall during a turn finally lived up to my expectations and the plane swayed a bit more heavily to the side. I guess I got what I wanted!

Me taxiing after landing after my second stall recovery flight. Mind you, the water isn't good for the propeller! Photo: Tommi Likonen

Me taxiing after landing after my second stall recovery flight 26th March. Mind you, the water isn’t good for the propeller! Photo: Tommi Likonen

Next up was the spin recovery! My teacher suspects I might become an aerobatic pilot, because I’m so excited about spins and “falling” off the sky. The teacher put the plane in an incipient spin and my job was to recover from it. This was done by centralizing the controls, pushing/keeping the nose below the horizon, gaining safe speed, leveling the plane and pulling it back up. The teacher also showed me a full spin, twice. I wish I had a video of it, looking out the windshield I was looking straight down to the frozen sea! I found the following video on YouTube which is very close to what we did during the spin avoidance flight.

The last flight of the week was flying in traffic circuit. It is quite fast-paced because the circuit isn’t very large. It being the first time for me, I felt like I was constantly turning or lowering flaps or doing something! The workload grew somewhat in comparison to what I have been doing so far and what had to give was the radio communication. I think it took me two laps to get my head back to the game! Flying the traffic circuit was fun though, because there is something to do all the time. I think I did 3 touch-and-go landings, one ended up as a go-around ordered by ATC. More traffic circuit in the becoming week.

Here’s a link to the Malmi landing chart where you can see the traffic circuits for each runway: EFHF Landing chart (.pdf). They are the rectangles around the airport. It takes about 5 minutes to do one lap.

As you can see, I have some very nice pictures of me in action in this post. I happened to come across them on FlightForum. They were taken by Tommi Likonen. A big thank you to Tommi for these pictures!

Checking for traffic on the right while taxiing. Photo: Tommi Likonen

Checking for traffic on the right while taxiing. Photo: Tommi Likonen

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