Circuits, sideslip and spot landings

Two flat tires this week, such luck!

Two flat tires this week, such luck!

For the last week my logbook says 5 flights, 2 hours 17 minutes in the air (3 h 19 min block) and 24 landings. We had a few exams and some of the days were cut short in terms of flying. A flat tire on Friday cut my flights into one instead of the planned two.

It was a four-day week after Easter. We started the week on Tuesday morning with a few Communications lessons. They were followed by a written as well as an oral exam on radio phraseology on Wednesday morning. On Thursday morning we had an exam on Cessna 152’s checklists. Basically we had to memorize them all, the by-heart items as well as the others. It went well though, reading them daily during flight training of course helps. This schedule (and the flat tire) meant that we couldn’t fit two flights into every day of this week. But we are all progressing nicely and our first solos are just around the corner.

All the school flights last week were in the traffic circuit for me. When we fly the traffic circuit we fly a few laps and do a touch-and-go landing on every lap except for the last landing of course. So whatever landing or whatnot we are practising, we just touch and go again to the circuit until it’s time to stop.  I did a short field take-off and landing, go-arounds, landed with a simulated airspeed indicator malfunction (the teacher put a post-it on it), got to practise a cross-wind landing, did a sideslip approach and also four spot landings. Those were fun!

traffic pattern

Traffic circuit/pattern (Photo credit: thatguyeric)

In a spot landing we climb to 1000 ft instead of the normal Malmi traffic circuit altitude of 600 ft. When abeam the planned touchdown spot in the downwind, you pull the throttle to idle and land without power. We use flaps like we would during a normal approach and landing, and of course you can adjust the glide with different flap configurations. The point of practising spot landings is to learn to land without power in case of an engine failure. Spot landings were pretty fun and there’s going to be more of them this week.

I mentioned before I like a little action in the air and apart from the spot landings, doing the sideslip approach offered this to me. In a sideslip you fly with crossed controls, e.g. full right rudder and left aileron. The airplane maintains its’ track but changes its’ heading, i.e. it is sideways in relation to the runway. Right before landing you straighten the airplane. The aim of this practise was to learn to land in case of a flaps malfunction. Sideslipping lets you approach with a slow speed in a steep angle without flaps, which normally aid this. Sideslipping is also a good way to lose altitude fast. I found a cool video about sideslipping. See for yourself!

I also found a nice video of Malmi runway 36 traffic circuit, shot with a GoPro (which I want too!). The video gives an excellent view of what I see flying the circuit. They even start taxiing from the same spot I do. Watch and have a peek into my world!

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2 responses to “Circuits, sideslip and spot landings

  1. Nina,

    This is great. I am really enjoying the trip down training lane. Like you I always loved to land, it has become a point of pride. I hope it does for you as well. In military training, one of my instructors said, acrobatics for show, land for dough. Meaning in the transport world the people in the back judge how good of a pilot you are by the landing. It isn’t fair, but it is true.

    I have found that if I do the same thing, every time that my landings are very consistent. I won’t give you flight lessons from 5000 miles away, just do what your instructor is telling you and do it the same way ever time. A good landing is 90% a function of a good solid approach and hitting all of your marks from the top of descent. The last 10% is being a robot and mechanically putting the airplane in the right position.

    Also, like you I love power off landings or spot landings as you call them. In the C-130, I taught young co-pilots to regularly do them. Even in a four engine, 150,000 pound, transport aircraft. It is all about energy management and getting a feel of how to fly. They are fun, I would test the co-pilots by not letting them descend until the runway disappeared under the nose of the airplane. One of the better tests of airmanship was descending from 10,000 feet and 10 DME from the end of the runway. If done correctly, you had to add power at 1000 feet.

    Another trick I used to pull is to call a simulated bus full of Nuns pulling onto the runway when the pilot was in the flare. A surprise go-around is a great way to test how good a student is at combining procedures and airmanship all at once. If you haven’t started doing surprise go-arounds, start mentally flying them. You will be glad you did, and your IP will be impressed when you nail it.

    Actually, this very event happened to me in Afghanistan once. It was a dump truck, it didn’t hold short of the runway and the driver pulled onto the runway and drove down the centerline. We were not very low, 150 feet when we went around. The co-pilot was flying and did a great job. It happenens.

    I watched the movie and I haven’t been to Miami, Flordia in a while. I don’t remember all the white sand. Ha ha. Great video, looks cold. But that makes for good lift so that is a fair trade. Can’t wait for the next post, now get back to the book work!

    • I’m glad to hear you’re enjoying the blog Rob! Also I LOVE your stories and experiences. Keep’em coming!

      The surprise go around actually happened last week, I forgot to write more about it. It was ordered by the teacher quite close to touchdown. After full power and carb heat cold, I retracted the flaps all at once. Not good. I was expecting a touch-and-go and I guess my mind was still in it. Teacher wasn’t very impressed and gave us homework, ha! I know I can expect at least one surprise this week, so I’m going to be prepared. I’m going to imagine the bus full of nuns the next time.

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