Flying Lesson # 10 – Circuits with Flapless Approach

March 18, 2012

Today’s lesson was all about flapless landings. Before I go too far into the lesson, here is a rundown on flaps and landing without them.

The flaps are the downward-deflecting, paired, movable surfaces attached to the inboard trailing edge of each wing. They are operated from the cockpit – electronically by a switch or manual lever. Flaps alter the curvature of the wings and change the airflow. This affects both the lift and drag. They are used for two reasons:

– To generate the required lift at lower speeds (which allows safer flight at low air speeds as well as reducing take-off and landing distances) and;

– To increase drag to steepen the descent path and improve the pilots field of view on approach to land.

A flapless approach will be necessary if a failure of any part of the flap system occurs (a rare event). Compared to a normal approach and landing, the flapless approach has the following main features:

– Flatter flight path

– Higher approach speed

– Higher nose attitude and reduced forward and downward view

– Little flair and longer float and;

– a longer landing roll

(Robson, A. 2011. “Flying Training Manual – A Basic Pilot Training Programme”. 8th ed. Aviation Theory Centre)

Just like every other lesson, the day started with checks, radio calls and taxiing. I feel as though my radio checks are improving quite a bit. I’m not relying on my notes to make the calls as much as I have been. I practice the calls whenever I can (in the car, in the shower, on the loo etc). As an example of a call: before I can taxi out of the apron (area of the airfield used to park planes) I have to radio the Air Traffic Control (ATC) with the following radio call:

“Archer ground, Cessna 150, Juliet Oscar Oscar, Eastern apron for circuits, Received Bravo, Dual, Request taxi..”

Which basically means; Hello tower, I’m in a Cessna 150 and my call sign is Juliet Oscar Oscar, I’m in the Eastern Apron and would like to do some circuits. I’ve received the correct aerodrome information, I’m with an instructor and would like to taxi to the relevant runway (you can see why they shorten it).

Once airborne, we commenced circuits as per usual. This time though, instead of lowering the flaps while turning base, I had to use attitude and throttle to help control my speed and position. I found the flapless landings quite easy. Because you land with more energy than usual, the controls feel a lot more firm and responsive on landing. The near 10 knot cross wind did make things interesting and some of my landings were a little off centre line as a result.

Overall, I was very happy with the lesson (as was Robert) and really feel like I’m becoming much more confident behind the controls. Robert had a brief discussion with me for the first time about me impending first solo. Yay! Can’t wait!

Continuing with the emergency procedure training, next lesson is glide approaches (to simulate an engine out situation) should be fun!

‘til next time….

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