Steven’s PPL Diary 6: Gliding Descents


Day 6 – You’re not my aircraft.
Descending – With some climbing and some more straight and level flight.

[Exercise 6,7,8]

Without any portion of the Profpilot website I can unofficially advertise, that’s currently related to my training maybe it’s time I tried to gleam some freebies from aviation related companies, to give some sort of half-baked review… (I can dream, can’t I?)

Your pilots' portable urinal eagerly awaits your hands on testing Steven!

Your pilots' portable urinal eagerly awaits your hands on testing Steven!

Now, to the more serious stuff, this week my brief look into Aviation law paid off and I finally knew some of the answers to the questions in the briefing, which was nice. (Minimum height rules if you’re interested…) Covered how to glide the aircraft to the most effective, idle throttle and watch the plane drop out of the sky (At a steady speed, whilst maintaining forward momentum). Also looked at powered descent (much preferable) and how to set-up the approach config.

This week, it’s not ‘my’ aircraft (I’ve been training on the same aircraft every lesson so far), still a Cherokee, but inside, the panel looked entirely different, dials not in the right place, so checks took a little longer to carry out. Aircraft started up check lists done, the usual stuff now, we taxi out, but not in the usual way, we head across the grass taxiway. Now, Coventry used to be an international airport yet still they have grass taxiways. Nevertheless pull the aircraft up in an area to do the power check whilst facing a DC-3, get slightly side-tracked as it starts-up in front of us, and I daydream of flying that instead, then return to my checks.

Hard to concentrate with THAT in front of you.

Hard to concentrate with THAT in front of you.

Take off in the same direction as last week, still not found landmarks I can use, still hate the wind for blowing in the wrong direction, seem to be getting the hang of this trim wheel too. Instructor takes control and checks for traffic in the area and below, and proceeds to show me what an engine off descent (glide) looks like, throttle back and down we go levelling out at around 700ft with a bit of power applied and he hands it over to me to keep level and re-trim. I manage to keep it level and fly around the countryside low for a few minutes, then full-power climb (and trim), level out (and trim) then my turn at an engine off descent (and even more trimming).

After a couple of practices of dummy approaches to fields, or lakes, or ponds I seemed to be able to handle the aircraft reasonably well, kept the speed about right, descent rate fine, and ignored all sort of rational thought and used the throttle to control height and column to control speed, we ended up heading back to ‘the white blob’ completed the circuit and I froze up on final approach for a couple of seconds, something about staring at the runway with me in control is so incredibly unnerving.

Somewhat unnerving for the crowds below...

Somewhat unnerving for the crowds below also I should imagine...

Not looking at it isn’t really an option in VFR so tried to shake the feeling and prepare the approach, flaps down, speed down, descending and hoping he’ll take control off me. Cross wind picks up a little as we reach the runway and he utters the immortal words “I have full control.” Well, there is a God, and the wind, maybe it’s not all that bad after all…

He talks me through his actions as we touch down and roll down the runway, he hands back over control and I get to keep the centre line (I quite like this bit, not to brag too much, I’m pretty good with the whole taxying bit.)

A whole FOOT to the right of the yellow line?! Steven would win a taxi off with you any day my friend.

A whole FOOT to the right of the yellow line?! Steven would win a taxi off with you any day my friend.

We park the aircraft and run through all the final checks and out we got. Instructor helped out some lost aviators (They were on foot) find the museum and a place to pay for landing fees (If you were one of those four, Sunday 20/9, Coventry Airport, did you enjoy the museum?).

Next time – Exercise 9: Turning.

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