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FAA Glossaries

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Notes from Airplane Flying Handbook

I have been referring to FAA-H-8083-3B Airplane Flying Handbook while learning the commercial maneuvers and decided to start reading it from the beginning. As a long-time pilot there is a lot that I already know, but there are some things that deserve a post so that I can remember them. Or they are things I already know, but are deserving of emphasis. For example:

Checklists
The checklist is a memory aid and helps to ensure that critical items necessary for the safe operation of aircraft are not overlooked or forgotten. Checklists need not be “do lists.” In other words, the proper actions can be accomplished, and then the checklist used to quickly ensure all necessary tasks or actions have been completed.

I use a flow for my pre-flight and then verify the important items with a checklist before engine start. I do the same with engine start. I use a flow starting with the oil pressure and then looking at all of the gauges. After the flow is complete, I use the checklist to make sure I covered everything. Post-flight on my Cherokee is relatively simple, just make sure it is tied down. The Cessna 172 at the flight school is much more complicated—make sure the co-pilot door is locked, install the control and throttle locks, put up the sunscreen, insert the engine cowl plugs, install the pitot cover, and tie it down. If you have a flow you probably won’t forget anything, but a checklist makes sure you didn’t. The same thing applies for removing things before your pre-flight.

Taxiing
When taxiing with a quartering headwind, the wing on the upwind side (the side that the wind is coming from) tends to be lifted by the wind unless the aileron control is held in that direction (upwind aileron UP). Moving the aileron into the UP position reduces the effect of the wind striking that wing, thus reducing the lifting action. This control movement also causes the downwind aileron to be placed in the DOWN position, thus a small amount of lift and drag on the downwind wing, further reducing the tendency of the upwind wing to rise. Turn into a headwind.

When taxiing with a quartering tailwind, the elevator should be held in the DOWN position, and the upwind aileron, DOWN. Since the wind is striking the airplane from behind, these control positions reduce the tendency of the wind to get under the tail and the wing and to nose the airplane over. Dive away from a tailwind.

Airplane attitude control
Pitch control—controlling of the airplane’ s pitch attitude about the lateral axis by using the elevator to raise and lower the nose in relation to the natural horizon or to the airplane’s flight instrumentation.
Bank control—controlling of the airplane about the airplane’s longitudinal axis by use of the ailerons to attain a desired bank angle in relation to the natural horizon or to the airplane’s instrumentation.
Power control—in most general aviation (GA) airplanes is controlled by the throttle and is used when the flight situation requires a specific thrust setting or for a change in thrust to meet a specific objective.
Trim control—used to relieve the control pressures held by the pilot on the flight controls after a desired attitude has been attained.
Note: Yaw control is used to cancel out the effects of yaw induced changes, such as adverse yaw and effects of the propeller.

Flight by reference to the horizon.
With beginner pilots, a flight instructor will likely use a dry erase marker or removable tape to make reference lines on the windshield or cowling to help the beginner pilot establish visual reference points.

When watching videos on private and commercial maneuvers they often say that you should line up part the cowl with the horizon and keep it in that position. I guess that works for short people, but it doesn’t work well for me since the cowl is well below the horizon from my perspective. Since my windshield is usually clean I can’t use a spot on it to mark the horizon. I started using this trick and so far I’m happy with it.

Trim
A properly trimmed airplane is an indication of good piloting skills. Any control forces that the pilot feels should be a result of deliberate flight control pressure inputs during a planned change in airplane attitude, not a result of forces being applied by the airplane. I noticed that when doing the commercial maneuvers proper trim makes it much easier to control the airplane. Small changes in force necessary to move the control are much easier to manage than trying to change a lot of force by a little bit. Fingertip control is the key to precise flying.

Turns
In a turn, the outside wing travels at a faster airspeed than the inside wing and, as a result, it develops more lift. This creates an overbanking tendency that must be controlled by the use of opposite aileron when the desired bank angle is reached. Because the outboard wing is developing more lift, it also produces more drag. The drag causes a slight slip during steep turns that must be corrected by use of the rudder. So in an uncorrected turn, the nose points to the outside of the turn. Stepping on the ball moves the nose into the direction of the turn. Too much rudder and the nose points into the turn—a skid.

Skidding turn
An uncoordinated turn in which the rate of turn is too great for the angle of bank, pulling the aircraft to the outside of the turn.
[Source: Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge]

If the desired bank angle is shallow, the pilot needs to maintain a small amount of aileron pressure into the direction of bank including rudder to compensate for yaw effects. For medium bank angles, the ailerons and rudder should be neutralized. Steep bank angles require opposite aileron and rudder to prevent the bank from steepening. Back pressure on the elevator should not be relaxed as the vertical component of lift must be maintained if altitude is to be maintained.

Glides
Variations in weight do not affect the glide angle provided the pilot uses the proper airspeed. Since it is the L/D ratio that determines the distance the airplane can glide, weight does not affect the distance flown; however, a heavier airplane must fly at a higher airspeed to obtain the same glide ratio. For example, if two airplanes having the same L/D ratio but different weights start a glide from the same altitude, the heavier airplane gliding at a higher airspeed arrives at the same touchdown point in a shorter time. Both airplanes cover the same distance, only the lighter airplane takes a longer time.

In an emergency, such as an engine failure, attempting to apply elevator back pressure to stretch a glide back to the runway is likely to lead the airplane landing short and may even lead to loss of control if the airplane stalls.

Angle of Attack
The angle of attack (AOA) is the angle at which the chord of the wing meets the relative wind. The chord is a straight line from the leading edge to the trailing edge. At low angles of attack, the airflow over the top of the wing flows smoothly and produces lift with a relatively small amount of drag. As the AOA increases, lift as well as drag increases; however, above a wing’s critical AOA, the flow of air separates from the upper surface and backfills, burbles and eddies, which reduces lift and increases drag. This condition is a stall, which can lead to loss of control if the AOA is not reduced.

Stall Characteristics
Most training airplanes are designed so that the wings stall progressively outward from the wing roots (where the wing attaches to the fuselage) to the wingtips.

Although airflow may still be attached at the wingtips, a pilot should exercise caution using the ailerons prior to the reduction of the AOA because it can exacerbate the stalled condition. For example, if the airplane rolls left at the stall (“rolls-off”), and the pilot applies right aileron to try to level the wing, the downward-deflected aileron on the left wing produces a greater AOA (and more induced drag), and a more complete stall at the tip as the critical AOA is exceeded. This can cause the wing to roll even more to the left, which is why it is important to first reduce the AOA before attempting to roll the airplane.

The most important action to an impending stall or a full stall is to reduce the AOA.

Stall Training

Power-on stalls are practiced to develop the pilot’s awareness of what could happen if the airplane is pitched to an excessively nose-high attitude immediately after takeoff, during a climbing turn, or when trying to clear an obstacle. Power-off turning stalls develop the pilot’s awareness of what could happen if the controls are improperly used during a turn from the base leg to the final approach. The power-off straight-ahead stall simulates the stall that could occur when trying to stretch a glide after the engine has failed, or if low on the approach to landing.

Impending Stall
An impending stall occurs when the airplane is approaching, but does not exceed the critical AOA. The purpose of practicing impending stalls is to learn to retain or regain full control of the airplane immediately upon recognizing that it is nearing a stall, or that a stall is likely to occur if the pilot does not take appropriate action.

Spin Awareness
A spin is an aggravated stall that typically occurs from a full stall occurring with the airplane in a yawed state and results in the airplane following a downward corkscrew path.…The rotation results from an unequal AOA on the airplane’s wings. The less-stalled rising wing has a decreasing AOA, where the relative lift increases and the drag decreases. Meanwhile, the descending wing has an increasing AOA, which results in decreasing relative lift and increasing drag. …There are four phases of a spin: entry, incipient, developed, and recovery.

Entry Phase
As the airplane approaches a stall, smoothly apply full rudder in the direction of the desired spin rotation while applying full back (up) elevator to the limit of travel.

Incipient Phase
The incipient phase occurs from the time the airplane stalls and starts rotating until the spin has fully developed. This phase may take two to four turns for most airplanes. In this phase, the aerodynamic and inertial forces have not achieved a balance. As the incipient phase develops, the indicated airspeed will generally stabilize at a low and constant airspeed and the symbolic airplane of the turn indicator should indicate the direction of the spin. The slip/skid ball is unreliable when spinning.

Developed Phase
The developed phase occurs when the airplane’s angular rotation rate, airspeed, and vertical speed are stabilized in a flightpath that is nearly vertical. In the developed phase, aerodynamic forces and inertial forces are in balance, and the airplane’s attitude, angles, and self-sustaining motions about the vertical axis are constant or repetitive, or nearly so.

Recovery Phase
The recovery phase occurs when rotation ceases and the AOA of the wings is decreased below the critical AOA. This phase may last for as little as a quarter turn or up to several turns depending upon the airplane and the type of spin.

PARE
1. Reduce the Power (Throttle) to Idle
2. Position the Ailerons to Neutral
3. Apply Full Opposite Rudder against the Rotation
4. Apply Positive, Brisk, and Straight Forward Elevator (Forward of Neutral)
5. Neutralize the Rudder After Spin Rotation Stops
6. Apply Back Elevator Pressure to Return to Level Flight

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