Flying Lesson # 11 – Circuits with Glide Approach

March 25, 2012

Feeling a little under the weather due to sickness, I stumbled into Gil Layt’s Flying School ready for a lesson on glide approaches. I had studied the theory behind it and thought they would be pretty straight forward.

Basically, this is the sort of landing that you would make if you had an engine failure. For the purpose of training, we will be gliding from the down-wind position from a distance that we know we can make the runway. In reality, if we were any further out, we would look for a clearing to land on and not try to make it back to the airfield.

The wind was blowing up to 10 knots straight down the runway (this is much better than a cross-wind). We headed out as normal – checks, taxiing and take-off. Robert had me conduct the first circuit with a standard landing. Everything went fine, I’m getting really confident with standard landings now. On the second circuit, my down-wind radio call was made with “request glide approach” on the end. The Air Traffic Control (ATC) cleared me for a glide approach. At the position that we would normally turn on to base, I returned the throttle to idle, added carb heat and banked 45 degrees toward the runway. Since we are no longer under power, attitude is critical to ensure that you don’t lose too much airspeed (we were aiming for 65 knots which is the ‘optimum’ glide speed for a C150).

– If you lift the nose too much, your airspeed decreases drastically and you run the risk of stalling the wings and / or shorten the distance you can travel before hitting the ground. If you let the nose drop, your airspeed will increase, as will your rate of descent which will also affect the distance you are able to glide.

It’s very much a case of making small adjustments of attitude to keep the airspeed right where you want it.

As we had a strong head-wind, gliding at 65kts wasn’t getting us the result we wanted (we weren’t going to make the runway). As it became more and more evident that I was going to hit the fence, I added power to help increase altitude to clear the fence and land. If that had been a real life emergency, I would have crashed for sure. Robert assured me it wasn’t my fault, the conditions just weren’t ideal for practising glide approaches. Over the next 5 or 6 circuits, we tried different combinations of position and altitude to try and make a successful glide approach. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t to be.

Lessons learnt:

  1. The only time that you would realistically make the runway, should the engine fail is if you are literally on final and about to land. If you are not that close or heading away from the runway, it’s time to look for a nice bit of ground (or someone’s roof) to land on.
  2. When gliding, attitude is extremely important and making a slight mistake will dramatically affect the performance of the aircraft and your chance of landing safely.
  3. Don’t fly when you are feeling sick (altitude changes are bad!).

All in all, it wasn’t the most successful lesson, though I did learn a lot. Robert said we will move on to new things next week and revisit gliding when the conditions permit. I’m pretty sure the next lesson is the last before solo. It’s then just a case of revising and waiting for when Robert thinks the time is right.

A few updates:

– My ASIC and SPL are still a long way off. They were sent back to me last week so processing has started all over again.

– My Medical is in the post on its way to me. So I should have that in the next few days.

– The pilot gear that I ordered from the states is nearly here.

The pilot gear I ordered from America includes the GoPo HD Hero 2 video camera that I am going to use to record my lessons from now on. Yay!

At the time of writing this, Australia Post states that my parcel is “In Brisbane awaiting clearance for delivery” can’t wait! When I unpack it all, I will be doing a video review of

Stay tuned!

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