Flying Lessons

Solo Practice

Lesson 24: Emergency Landings

Thursday, February 12, 2004
Take off BFI, Aerial practice, Touch and go at Bremmerton, return BFI
Cessna 150, 2 hours, 9 landings

Another day of clear weather and I plan to arrive at the airport at dawn for an early morning flight. When I get to the airplane I discover frost covering the wings and elevators. The texture of frost will provide enough friction to disturb air flow over the wings, pretty much negating any lift. I can't fly the airplane with frost on the wings. Deane said that some people use a broom to brush it off while other's use water. I have a gallon of water in my car so I'm set.

I clear off one elevator then think I should start on the wings in case I run out. I run out about 1/3rd of the way into one wing. There's a water spigot 40 ft into the helicopter zone, but a sign warning against entry of pilots and other pedestrians. Deane said they are very proprietary about their ramp, so I don't go there. Instead I get a rag from the back of the plane and begin wiping the frost off. This is a fair amount of work, but moves along. I work along the front end and then the back edge. When I get to the elevator I had washed with water I find that the pools of water have frozen. Same for the wing tip I did. So I get my ice scraper and start scraping these. This is beginning to take a significant amount of time!

Back on the wings I find that new frost is forming! It's finer grain, maybe not a problem, but I'm not going to risk it. There is no keeping up with this. I roll the plane out and turn it back to the sun in hopes that the sun will do what I can't. A half our later I wipe of the remaining frost, figure more is not likely to reform, and am able to get going.

I depart Boeing field. The sky is clear. I climb to 2500 and cross to the land west of Vashon island. When I'm over some open fields I practice slow flight. On my first attempt I find that I've drop 500 ft. I'm not giving enough power. Back up to 2500 and I do a much better job. Turns in slow flight are strange things. Controls are very mushy and a lot of the turning seems to be done with the rudder. I then do a power off stall. As close to stalling as slow flight felt, getting the plane to actually stall takes quite a bit more effort. I hold out for a full stall. The left wing drops 45 degrees. I power on, nose down, right the plane, and start climbing. I think I only lost 100 ft in that stall.

Then I pick a industrial site and practice turns around a point. Now that I've been flying high on clear days 1,000 AGL feels low. I have some difficulty holding altitude within 100 ft.

Over to Bremmerton where I practice landings. I'm trying to figure out how to land this slow 150. For some reason I have the impression that I should be able to take the power off and glide to a landing. Well, the only way to get that to work in this 150 is to use a very steep glide slope, flare, and touch down before too much speed washes off. All my landings use power to bring the plane in on a more gentile glide slope.

I begin to practice short field landings, first using the aiming marks as my target touch down zone. When I'm getting those fairly well I then use the end of the runway. On my first one I let the plane drop. Back to too many factors to juggle. Subsequent ones are better, though not smooth.

I also do a low pass, practicing drifting across the runway and back. Getting better.

On the way back to Boeing field I climb to 2,500 ft. Passing a small private runway I take the power off and practice emergency landing with engine failure. I turn on to final for the runway and realize that I'm too high. There is no way that I would be able to get the plane down and stopped before hitting the trees at the far end. And, if this were a real engine failure no chance to go around. I read someplace that it is very common for pilots to go off the end of the runway in an emergency landing situation. I understand how this happens.

So I climb back to 2,500 and try again at another small airport. Again I'm high! Up and over to Vashon where there is a larger grass strip. This time I approach the near end with wide S turns to loose elevation. I clear the trees and would be able to make one final turn to touch down well before midway on the runway. Better. Full power and back to Boeing Field.

Lesson 25: Cross Winds

Tuesday, February 16, 2004
Take off BFI, Aerial practice, Touch and go at Bremmerton, return BFI
Cessna 150, 1.6 hours, 8 landings

Rain and clouds this week but I still want to get a practice flight in. Same plan as last time, over to Bremmerton for landings, practice other things in between. The ride out of Boeing field is bumpy, most so over Puget Sound. I decide to forego practicing stalls. I do turns along a line and realize this will be easier if I make wider turns. Turns around a point is more difficult with a cross wind.

At Bremmerton I make 4 landings focusing mainly on how I set the plane down. I'm finding it hard to be gentle with 98J. It looses speed so fast that I have a small window of time in which to put it down. Using more power helps.

On my way back I do one emergency landing practice. My approach finishes with a 180 turn to the runway. I abort before I finish the turn. I think I would have made the runway, but by the time I finished the turn I would have been lower than I think is appropriate. Still, I count it as a success.

Returning across Puget Sound the air is even more turbulent. There is a south wind east of the Sound and a north wind to the west. In between they mix.

I request touch and go and make 4 landings. The air is fairly turbulent so these are interesting landings. The downwind leg is very bumpy. I get the sense the tower controller is impressed that I'm out practicing in these conditions. On my last landing I have the plane banked 10°, maybe 15°, just above the runway to counteract a side wind. As soon as the first main wheel touches the other and then the nose wheel quickly come down. I guess that's how it works in try cycle gear: touch down pitches the plane forward, which causes loss of lift. Deane has repeatedly said that as soon as the wheels are down the plane stops flying.

It seems like I could get 15Z to float a little more. Today I noticed that it's spinner is missing. Worn out main wheel tire and missing spinner probably put it out of service. Maybe next week I'll try the 172 and see how different that feels on landing. But Thursday I'm taking a lesson in a Piper Cub.


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Page last modified:  Aug 20 03:23 2008  by  Tom Unger