It’s been a long time coming, but I finally started my upset recovery training. That sounds highly advanced, and technical, but basically, we just go up and throw the plane around for an hour.
Today was my first of 4(maybe 5) flights that I will do. We do the flights in a Zlin 242 aerobatic plane. I don’t know much other than- 200hp, fuel injected, constant speed prop. Glass canopy top, with visibility like you could never dream of. It’s truly an amazing machine, and I’m dreading going back to my put-put training Warrior!
So we got up to about seven thousand feet, and started with some chandelles and lazy eights. Which are basic commercial maneuvers, and we start with them to get a feel for how the airplane flies. It has a stick, as opposed to a conventional yoke, so it’s a little different, but it’s very intuitive. Makes you wonder why the yoke was ever invented. You want to go a direction? Push the stick there, and there you go.
So after getting familiar with the airplane, we start with wing overs. Basically a wing over is a recover from a nose high attitude, and low airspeed. In light aircraft, you can just push the stick forward, and nose down to level flight. However- in larger, faster airplanes, if you do that, you can subject the airframe, and it’s occupants to negative G’s. Which could damage the airframe, or harm your occupants. In this example you’re trying to recover from nose high with low airspeed. You simply bank over and the loss of vertical lift will cause the nose to lower, and airspeed to rise.
In this case though, we did it a little exaggerated. Basically we pitched for straight up, banked over, and leveled off. Pretty straight forward, and basic.
After that, we did a loop. Now you may be asking yourself. What good is doing a loop for my training? Who cares, it was FUN. Ok, but really. It is an example of how to recover from inverted flight, or pitch down dives. We just wrap it all up in a loop, and do both at once.
We then moved into spins. The mother of all maneuvers. Well, at least for me. I’m not really scared of the idea of spinning. At least until today I wasn’t.
Basically, a spin is when a stalled, un-coordinated airplane enters an auto rotation. The concept of a spin is very heavy in aerodynamic theory. For the easiest explanation- the airplane stops generating lift, and due to un-coordination, will begin to auto rotate. It just starts spiraling. Most specifically, to the ground.
We started the maneuver at or below 85 KIAS. Full back pressure on the elevator, and full rudder in any direction. Almost instantly, the plane jumps up, and rolls onto it’s ‘back’. At this point if you look straight out, you see the ground spinning by you. What is the hardest part? To get out of this pickle, you have to push forward! That’s right. You’re spinning towards the ground, the last thing you want to do is get there faster right? Well, wrong. To get the wings to start generating lift again, you have to put forward pressure on the stick. This will get airflow over the rudder again, at which point you apply full opposite rudder to stop the spin. Then level the airplane.
The first one the instructor completed, while I followed on the controls. The second one I did, while he followed. So my first spin ever. How did it go? Bad.
I pulled back, put in full rudder, and the plane did its thing. Rolled over, and started spinning. I looked down at the ground, and I think I heard him say ‘Rudder’. I kicked the rudder. We stopped spinning. I didn’t stop putting in the rudder. He took over, and leveled us off. I was freaked just a little!
What just happened? Then he spoke some Chinese for a minute, and I gather I did something wrong. Holding the rudder too long will just aggravate the spin, and sometimes will spin the airplane in the opposite direction. Oh, ok. I think my problem was I was staring at the ground, and wasn’t too comfortable with that feeling.
We did a few more, and I got more comfortable with it. It seemed just as soon as we had taken off, we were on the ground and chocking the plane.
I’m excited for more of these flights, and I have already learned so much. Today I learned what could possibly save my life someday, or the lives of my passengers. That’s training worth paying for!