Marqtholomew

Tonight after work I met Tyler at the airport for my second IFR lesson. A cold front passed through today and I was certain tonight’s flight would be conducted in instrument meteorological conditions (IMC), but by the time night fell the skies were clear. We had a good hour of ground instruction before the flight. Tyler explained the procedure for obtaining an IFR clearance, we reviewed who I should call for a clearance when I’m at a big airport (Clearance Delivery) or at a more remote airport (a Flight Service Station), and we covered where the radio frequencies are found in the US Terminal Procedures publication. We worked through the Departure Procedure charts for PDX and Hillsboro Airport, and touched on the topic of lost communication procedures. Finally, he explained the difference between a precision descent (500 FPM at 90 knots, 1700 RPM) and a non-precision descent (700-1000 FPM at 90 knots, 1400 RPM).

Once in the cockpit with the engine started Tyler gave me a mock clearance; I copied it and read it back to him. After takeoff Tyler again had me put on the hood so I couldn’t see out the window. We flew the “Farmington Four” departure to the Newberg VOR, which specifies to fly the runway heading to 500 feet, turn left to heading 120, and intercept the 346 radial to the VOR. When we were about 6 miles south of the town of Newberg we started some maneuvers.

First, steep turns on instruments, which are 360 turns in a 45 degree bank at a constant airspeed and altitude. My first steep turns weren’t the greatest… I climbed and descended more than 100 feet, and the airspeed was all over the place. Tyler taught me a trick: add 100 RPM of power after banking 30 degrees, then roll the trim wheel down twice as the wings reach 45 degrees. I’d always added power and nose-up trim for the maneuver, but never as precisely or systematically. With that technique in hand the steep turns were no problem.

Then, stalls on instruments. First we did a couple of power-off stalls to simulate a stall during an approach to landing. My power-off stalls were okay, although I needed to anticipate the need for more right rudder as I applied full power to recover, and I had a little trouble holding my heading at first. The power-on stalls, which simulate a stall after departure, were pretty smooth all things considered. I actually found power-on stalls a little easier using instruments compared to without because of the information provided by the turn coordinator and attitude indicator. In this type of stall the nose is higher than the horizon and you can’t see anything but sky out the front window, so without instruments you have to rely more on your peripheral vision to keep the wings level. The stalls went well, so we finished up by maneuvering in slow flight for a few minutes, then testing out the non-precision and precision descent power settings on the way back down to the surface. It was another great lesson; I can feel my scan improving and I’m getting more confident on instruments, although while under the hood I don’t yet have a good sense of where I am located geographically. Tyler passed me through lessons 4 and 5—our next session is scheduled for Monday.

4 Responses to “IFR Lesson #2: Steep Turns and Stalls”

  1. David

    It’s cool to read such a detailed description of the lesson. Thanks for taking the time to write all that out. Sounds pretty cool, and difficult.

  2. Marcus

    Last night was actually the first time I’ve felt even a little air sick—a solid half hour of steep turns without being able to see out the window made me a bit queasy for some reason. But it subsided quickly and wasn’t really that bad. I’ve been reading ahead a bit in the ground school (through lesson 14), and from what I can gather the material to come grows increasingly difficult.

  3. David

    Yeah, that would be really weird flying “blind” so to say. Interesting. Perhaps with more experience doing it your body will get more used to it.

  4. Fred

    cool man…I did all my stalls etc under the hood during my private. I don’t think I have ever actually done a power on stall w/o looking @ the turn coordinator. Lot’s of fun!!!! I hope to start my IFR training sometime early next year.

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