High-Performance Airplane

Commercial pilot license requirements contain 10 hours of complex airplane flight time (at least it was so in 2018 – as far as I know, now only technically advanced aircraft time is required). Complex airplane means the one with a retractable gear, flaps and constant-speed prop. But from the April 2018 it is not required to use that kind of airplane for a checkride.

Usually our school uses Beechcraft Bonanza, BE-35 V-Tail. It is not a very common airplane, and it is kinda expensive. I did not want to fly 10 hours in a single engine in favour of a multi-engine one, but I still wanted to have a high-performance endorsement.

It is not very obvious, but our multi-engine Duchess does not meet the high-performance requirements in spite of even higher total power than the Bonanza. To meet the requirement, the power per each engine should be higher than 200 HP, and our Duchess has only 180 HP per engine. And it does not matter than the Bonanza has only one engine.

The airplane is beautiful and mighty. It is equipped with a 3-blade propeller, electric retractable gear, electric flaps, and rather modern avionics. At first I had kind of ‘nose up’ attitude, much more than in a Duchess. Throttle, prop and mixture levers are similar to the ones in a Cessna 172.

The airplane has only one cockpit door at the right side, and the interior looks like this:

It’s important to remember than every half-hour we should switch fuel tanks, like in Piper aircrafts.

Another problem is that flaps lever is located at the place where we have gear control in Duchess.

The airplane is mighty – the acceleration is fast, the engine sounds louder, and the prop sound is also higher: probably it’s due to a 3-blade prop.

It is not a Cessna 172 at all: it is faster, it has better avionics, and the controls require higher force. Even a rudder needs higher control forces, probably it is because of a V-Tail.

The landing is even easier than in a Cessna. The approach speed is the same, but I felt kind of stronger ground effect.

It is an interesting airplane. Thank you for flying, Bonanza!

Spin Training

Spin Training is a part of the flight instructor course, but I suppose that this training is useful for all pilots. Of course it’s better to recognize approaching spin in advance, but sometimes shit happens anyway, and it’s good to know what to do in that case.

In theory the process is not very hard: we should put the ailerons in a netral position, stop the rotation with a rudder, and then act like in a situation with an unusual attitude.

In practice we set the engine to idle, then slow flight without flaps, and then pull the yoke, simultaneously stepping on one of the pedals. And the airplane starts to spin. It feels like we’re falling. The Earth is just in front of us while it should be somewhere below. It’s really scary! So we are seting the ailerons to a neutral position, then eliminating the rotation with the rudder, and waiting. After some time the rotation should stop, and we can recover by pushing the yoke and maintaining the direction.

The attitude indicator is useless in this situation, we should use mainly external references and probably a turn coordinator (with some precaution).

The feeling is unforgettable. But the main outcome is that now I know what to do not only in theory – it’s a completely different experience.

Our C150 spins relatively easily, and recovers also very well. But it’s better to act quickly: one rotation takes more than 300 feet, and the recovery is becoming more difficult with more rotations.

Tailwheel II

I am continuing with my tailwheel training.

I found out that taxiing in citabria is not so difficult at the end, but just requires very precise pedals manipulation.

There are two different landing methods: the first is when you keep nose-high attitude and let the tail wheel to touch down, and then apply even more pull force to slow down until the main wheels become on the ground too. The second is when you keep the airplane’s nose relatively low, and very gently and precisely let the main wheels to contact the ground while still keeping the tail wheel in the air.

The second way is much more challenging, and requires very low vertical speed at the touch down moment. Moreover, it is a little counterintuitive: you have to push the stick then the wheels are on the ground, the reflexes force to do the opposite.

Flying and landing a tailwheel airplane is really interesting. It improves visual flying skills (especially directional control and landings), so if you are a pilot (or thinking to become a pilot), I strongly advice to have this experience.

Tailwheel

I’ve already told that I need 250h total time to meet the commercial requiremens, and I considered that I can fly different aircrafts during this time-building for getting additional endorsements.

One of the endorsements is a tailwheel one. It is useful both for better airplane control and for future job opportunities: I am considering a bush flying route.

In my case the training airplane is citabria. It is an aerobatic plane. Pilots seat one-behind-another, not side-by-side. There is no attitude indicator and course directional indicator, but the airplane has g-meter which shows g-load. The throttle lever is on the left side, no flaps, a stick instead of a yoke.

Taxiing is really way more difficult: I feel like a drunk sailor. I should apply rudder much more precisely.

At the take-off the airplane’s nose initially points up, but with gaining some speed we can slightly push the stick and align the airplane almost horizontally. After that it feels like a usual Cessna take-off.

The ball in a turn coordinator behaves insanely. I used to see 1/4 deflection, at most 1/2 in a turbulent weather, but here… It runs from one edge to another. The airplane is much more sensitive.

Steep turns. The airplane enters in a steep turn very easily, and easily returns to a wings-level state as well. We can only determine an angle with g-meter and outside references.

We should turn by magnetic compass reference, so we refresh the knowledge about compass turning errors.

Stalls. As usual, we should pull the stick, and the airplane is slowing down. Then it stalls, and we can start the recovery procedure. I am pushing the stick as I used to do it on a cessna, and… It seemed that the airplane went down almost vertically. I already mentioned that the controls are much more sensitive.

Sideslip – it seems that my heading and course differs at least by 30 degrees. And in this airplane proper sideslip can be really necessary since we don’t have flaps.

I flew my first traffic patterns in about 3-4 minutes, no more. I used to do it in about 6 min.

I liked the citabria a lot. It requires even more control precision and provides less time for reaction, but it’s an amazing airplane. I think that this experience can greatly improve basic ‘stick-and-rudder’ piloting skills.