Flying Lesson # 17 – Steep Turns and Spiral Dive Recovery

May 13, 2012

The day started out looking great! A small crosswind of about 5 knots and not a cloud in the sky, Perfect!

After arriving at the airfield, I grabbed the keys for JOO and headed out to get her ready. Some fuel was needed before we could get airborne, though that’s nothing the little silver Mobil truck can’t fix. After fuelling up and completing the necessary checks, I donned my brand new Sennheiser S1 Digital Headset and radioed for clearance to head out to the runway. No worries!

With the run up checks complete, another call to ATC for clearance to take off returned some concerning news – the wind had picked up to 14 knots. Damn! Whilst rolling out on to the runway, Robert and I had a quick chat about what we should do. The weather wasn’t suitable for solo, nor was it worth a crosswind lesson! We decided to accept that solo is imminent and push on to post-solo lessons to avoid wasting time waiting for good weather. We will return to circuits when weather permits.

JOO Request – Go Ahead – Can we change to a departure to the East? – Certainly! – And so began my first out-of-circuit lesson in 10 weeks!

It was the strangest feeling! At the point in the circuit where I would normally throttle off to 1700rpm, apply carb heat, turn and extend flaps, I was continuing straight ahead. It was the greatest feeling of freedom. I had just broken the shackles that had been keeping me in the circuit for the longest time. I was heading off in to the blue yonder! I had forgotten how much fun it is to just fly. There’s no greater feeling than setting the plane up and just motoring along through the skies.

We continued out to the training area around Yatala before commencing the lesson. Today would be all about steep turns and spiral dive recovery. First up, steep turns! During normal flight, the largest bank angle we aim for is 30 degrees to avoid filling the cabin with vomit. Sometimes it may be necessary to make an evasive manoeuvre which may involve turning the plane with up to 60 degrees of bank. To practice this, Robert showed me how to turn the plane through 360 degrees with a bank angle exceeding 45 degrees.

The manoeuvre:

  1. Enter a normal turn using aileron and some rudder.
  2. When the bank angle reaches 30 degrees, apply backward pressure on the control column.
  3. Maintain correct attitude to avoid losing or gaining excess altitude.
  4. As the starting position approaches, level wings and apply forward pressure to return to normal flight.

I seemed to pick this up fairly quickly and was able to perform the maneuver correctly. Robert was very happy with my abilities. After a few dozen, I started to feel a little ill, but handled it well I thought. I learned a technique from watching RAAF videos; to stop from passing out or spewing when pulling high G’s, they take short sharp breaths whilst saying “HI-CK”. Clearly 2 G’s isn’t high by any standards, but any loading on the body that you’re not used to can have an effect – especially if sustained for any extended period of time. There are some pretty awesome videos out there of the military guys accelerating through 7 G turns. How they stay conscious is beyond me!

The second part of the lesson concentrated on spiral dive recovery. It sounds a lot more exciting than it actually is. Basically, it’s just a steep turn that has got out of hand.

The manoeuvre:

  1. Enter a steep turn as usual; 30 degree turn, pull back to 60 degrees
  2. This time instead of keeping the attitude steady, we let the nose drop off into a dive. As we are in a turn, the plane starts to spiral dive.
  3. To create upward lift, you first need to level the wings
  4. Then apply heavy backward pressure on the control column to exit the dive.

It’s pretty simple to do and I didn’t really have any issues with this maneuver.

On completion of the training, we headed back to Archerfield and Robert pointed out some reporting points along the way. It was strange having to make different calls on our approach. I’m used to the standard ‘downwind’ calls. This time, while over Logan Target, I had to make a call ” Archer Tower, Cessna 150 JOO, inbound over Target, 1500, received Bravo”. Landing was also quite different in that I had to judge altitude and approach speed from quite a distance away, instead of having the legs of the circuit to determine the correct set-up. All in all, this was a great lesson of which I thoroughly enjoyed. Can’t wait for next Sunday.

As a side note; the Sennheiser S1 Digital Headset performed exceptionally well. Being the C150 is a 1976 aircraft, the headset system is in mono rather than stereo. It wasn’t until after the lesson that I realised the headset has a button to switch between the two. This meant I was only hearing comms through one of the ear cups during the flight. Regardless, the sound was still much more superior than that of the David Clark. I will continue to test the headset over the next few lessons.

I’m not sure what the next lesson will consist of. I guess it will depend largely on the weather.

Until next time…

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