By now you will have done a few takeoffs and
landings with your instructor as you flew the aeroplane to
complete all of the air exercises. Now it's time for you to
polish up your takeoffs and landings by completing many circuits
of the aerodrome.
You will learn several ways to takeoff and to land, and I'll write about these in later lessons. For this lesson however, we will stick to simple fundamentals, the wind is straight down the runway, and is only five knots! Perfect for our introduction to the circuit.
Since there are no paved and marked roads in
the sky, aviators need a specific pattern to fly around an
aerodrome such that they know where to look for other aircraft,
and can develop a sequence for landing with consideration to
others. Without a standard pattern aeroplanes could arrive at a
runway from all directions with the consequent hazard of hitting
each other... not recommended!
The circuit has been standardised throughout the World, a circuit flown in Canada is no different to one flown in Europe. There are variations on the circuit depending on the aerodrome, so it is always advisable to refer to the Airport directory to ensure compliance with local requirements, in Canada the relevant book is the Canada Flight Supplement.
This is a typical circuit, click link for printable copy.
Click here for an image of the Circuit, print off a copy!
Flying a 800 foot circuit in a Cessna 152
First of all we check to see that no
aircraft is on finals for our runway... we may have to turn the
aeroplane on the taxyway to get a better view of the approach.
When clear we line up on the runway centreline. I like to be as close to the beginning of the runway as practical so as to have the maximum amount of runway ahead for the takeoff.
Takeoff. Apply full power, and if possible glance at the RPM, oil pressure and temperature guages, an early indication of engine trouble may mean aborting the takeoff.
Look well ahead, pick a tree or another landmark at the end of the runway to keep straight with; today you'll need some right rudder!
As the speed increases, raise the nose to slightly less than the climb attitude, do you remember the climb attitude?
As the aeroplane accelerates you will have to move the control column gently forward to maintain the attitude. If you don't, the elevator's increased effectiveness will cause the nose to rise too high.
Climb. When it is ready the aeroplane will leave the ground, and guess what? If you maintain the attitude you'll find that you will soon be doing 67KIAS; trim, and check the RPM, oil pressure + temp.
Attitude + Power = Performance
Crosswind. At 400 feet we
enter a climbing turn to the left through less than 90 degrees,
the nose will be pointed slighty into the wind to ensure our
crosswind leg is at 90 degrees to the runway heading.
Under normal circumstances we will reach 800 feet before turning down wind using a 30 degree bank, but we may do a climbing turn at 600 feet to arrive downwind at 800.
Downwind. Attitude Power Trim; Lower the nose to the cruise attitude, reduce power - 1900 to 2000 RPM, and trim.
Complete your pre-landing checks; you may use the American GUMPS or the UK's BUMPF.
1. Seats, Belts, Harnesses
Oh: It's Geographic eh!
Fuel cock, primer, master,
Er er er...
Pre landing checks, Vital actions, call them out aloud!
At the end of the downwind leg we set the
aeroplane up for the landing... Most books say turn Base at 45
degrees to the end of the runway, this takes judgement!
Personally, the method I've found to work very well is as
When the wingtip is in line with the end of the runway, throttle back to 1700 RPM, apply Carb' Heat, and reduce the airspeed to 65KIAS, trim. Don't lose height while slowing down. The aeroplane is now set up for the base leg.
Base. Turn a little more than 90 degrees onto Base to adjust for the drift due to the wind.
Now we throttle back in stages, and apply flaps as required. I prefer to teach landings with 20 degrees of flap initially; you get a nice stable approach in this configuration without a long 'float'.
Finals.Turn onto finals, and aim to land well into the runway, 1/3 its length usually.
Reduce power in small amounts to arrive on 'short' finals power off (idle).
Landing.... is a very subjective thing! Your instructor cannot look through your eyes, he or she can only suggest where you should look.
Generally you will look in your 11 o'clock region to guage your height for the flare. The flare is begun around 10 feet above the runway with the nose rising gradually to the climb attitude at just a few inches from the runway surface.
This 'hold off' requires patience, look well ahead and hold the aeroplane off until you get the climb attitude and then maintain this attitude to touchdown. The stall warner may sound, this is a good thing! It means that you have landed gently at the minimum speed.
As the aeroplane rolls out, maintain back pressure on the control column to keep the weight off the nose wheel. Putting weight on the nose wheel could cause it to shimmy (wobble) badly at speeds above the normal taxy.
What are the three most useless commodities?
1. Runway behind you. Use
all of it!
2. Altitude above you. Height is security when the engine fails.
3. Fuel in the bowser (tanker truck). Petrol keeps the engine running, take more than enough.
In the next lesson we'll learn several methods for taking off: Crosswind, Short Field, and Soft Field.
© Michael Peare 2001
Next: Lesson 12