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Things to practice to become a better pilot


Hemberg
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I like to improve my flying skills. I like learning in improving in general, it's fun.

I would be a good idea to have some kind of check list for things to test once in a while.

Things I can think of off the top of my head is:

spot landing.

Simulate motor fail and estimate how far I would get and land safely.

different starting techniques to see what works best.

different landing techniques.

Simulate landing in small area maybe.

Just things to add for normal flying. Is there a list somewhere already? Or please add what you like.

It's been a while since I ground handled the wing also. Can feel that I'm not as sharp as I used to be. We used this for exercise about 8-10 years back a lot. Ground handling in windy gusty condition is quite good exercise.

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Spot landing is good, but beware of something I did last night while trying to be very accurate. I set up my glide as usual but it seemed I was going to be slightly long so I did a couple of "s" turns to lose a little height - normally ok but on this occasion I was too near the ground and was taken aback by how much swinging happened. I stabilised and landed safely but it could have been nasty. I think it was a complacency thing that happens after 100+ hours.

Nige

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Some other useful tasks include-

-navigation of predeterminded routes without GPS, only a paper map

-trying to hold a set altitude for as long as possible

-trying to fly a straight line at a set altitude, or circle, or '8' figure

-anticipating fuel burn rate at various stages during the flight and guessing the level before checking with your mirror

-plan a route and estimate your fuel requirement.. Put the required amount into the tank + 'x' litre reserve, then fly the route... If you're calcualtions are right then you should have your reserve volume left in the tank.

-engine restarts (in the air)

Another 'fun' thing to do is looking for objects highlighted on an OS map... for example pick out something smallish, and not alligned to any really obvious feature such as a road.... Use your map/navigation skills to find the object.

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Hemberg,

I'd add in "Flying like a paraglider pilot"....

As in.... Ridge Soaring, Thermalling, etc.

These are both ways to get free lift and are good to learn.

(Best learn this with a school or an experienced friend).

Regards,

Steve

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Ditto the comments from Steve above re free flying techniques but with a motor.

But as we now have a motor, why not learn power landings ? It was one move that revolutionized my flying. You must first learn where the kill switch is and/or be able to keep the wing above your head. And have a good instructor for a few hours. Once mastered it can make more of your landings predictable. Not forgetting the equally important engine out practice landings of course.

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Ditto the comments from Steve above re free flying techniques but with a motor.

But as we now have a motor, why not learn power landings ? It was one move that revolutionized my flying. You must first learn where the kill switch is and/or be able to keep the wing above your head. And have a good instructor for a few hours. Once mastered it can make more of your landings predictable. Not forgetting the equally important engine out practice landings of course.

The main thing doing this is to know where the stall point on your glider is.

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Ditto the comments from Steve above re free flying techniques but with a motor.

But as we now have a motor, why not learn power landings ? It was one move that revolutionized my flying. You must first learn where the kill switch is and/or be able to keep the wing above your head. And have a good instructor for a few hours. Once mastered it can make more of your landings predictable. Not forgetting the equally important engine out practice landings of course.

The main thing doing this is to know where the stall point on your glider is.

Is this something you have found during experience or have you researched it?

Lee

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That's an interesting question. During my skydiving days, one of the first things you would do with a new ram-air canopy is find out where the stall point was by slowly burying the brakes until it waffled around a bit and fell backwards. This was completely safe and the canopies always recovered. In fact, many used to hold the brakes down whilst plummeting towards the ground for a few hundred feet.

Also, stalling your average Cessna is a non event as long as you put the nose forward and stop a wing tipping.

This isn't something I would like to do on my Nucleon, but it would be really nice to find out where the stall occurs so that it can be avoided. I know it will change with trim settings, turns, etc, but a baseline would be nice.

I know it needs a wrap on the brakes to get it fully braked for landing, so I'm assuming that I could bury the brakes quite deeply before it bites??

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Not neccesarily Steve. When landing, you are aiming to exchange forward momentum for lift, with the aim of becoming stationary.

So long as you time it correctly, you could apply any amount of brake because you will be on the ground and the wing unloaded before the stall manifests itself.

In the air, you can only sustain a limited amount of brake before the wing loses forward speed and stalls. Braking increases the wings angle of attack both by changing geometry and by reducing forward airspeed. Geometry change is a rapid effect while airspeed change is delayed as you lose momentum.

Both effects can be easily observed while ground handling. You can quickly pull the brakes all the way behind yor back and let them back out, giving a brief increase in lift. Pulling the brakes back slowly will have the wing stalling (or dragging you across the field if ther's enough wind) before your hands are very far back.

Pete.

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Cheers Pete. Although I've done footdrags whilst deep in the brakes, sometimes to the point where the increased drag requires lots of power to maintain lift. And seen accuracy competitions with people holding brakes down at their waist for prolonged periods, albeit basic 5 and 7 cell canopies.

I guess what I'm really curious about is how much brake you can use on a power off landing approach to adjust glide angle without falling out of the sky. Very slowly increasing brake pressure so a steady state is achieved. I suppose I could try it at altitude but I haven't got the kahunas for it!

Steve

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Pete. From what you have said if I understand it right. When ground handling if I want the wing to pick me up in a good wind a few quick dabs on the brakes will do the trick? The reason I ask is I was playing last week using the wing to climb over hay bales and then fly off but I kept losing lift now and then and had to wait for the wing to lift me.

Cheers lee.

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<>

Ganers,

When ground handling, you don't have any momentum and you are reacting drag through your legs against the ground. As soon as you leave the ground, you will tend to swing towards the wing (i.e. downwind) and lose airspeed and therefore lose lift.

Yanking on the brakes will give an instantaneous burst of lift, but the wing will quickly move down and lift will be lost.

To get airborne, you would need the ground to get out of the way, by sloping down at an angle greater than your glide angle. I believe this procedure is familiar to hill flyers, where there is the added advantage of the wind moving parallel to the slope.

Pete.

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Ditto the comments from Steve above re free flying techniques but with a motor.

But as we now have a motor, why not learn power landings ? It was one move that revolutionized my flying. You must first learn where the kill switch is and/or be able to keep the wing above your head. And have a good instructor for a few hours. Once mastered it can make more of your landings predictable. Not forgetting the equally important engine out practice landings of course.

The main thing doing this is to know where the stall point on your glider is.

Is this something you have found during experience or have you researched it?

Lee

Spot on as usual Pete ! I found my stall point whilst a foot off the ground, rapidly followed by the kill switch and a few steps back til the lines went slack. (5-6 mph headwind)

Lee. I felt the need to learn this technique after a few "dumpy" landings, whilst pretty thermic. An hour with a good instructor well spent. Even with 100 hours logged. And it really is fun when you get it right. You can get some very gentle touchdowns. But as Pete said, it is crucial to find your stall point, safely. NOT when you're 40 feet high.

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Power landings, never heard of it before (and never seen anyone doing it)

I always turn off the engine to decrease the risk of a spinning prop/wing mixture.

In general I do need to improve my landing technique, I bleed out too much energy and don't have enough for a decent flare. Always landed on my feet but have done a fair bit of running once in a while. Some new bad habit I started. Effect seems worse on the speedster. Never tested to land on trimmers out either, at least not fully out.

Landing and estimating where I will land on power off is something I'll practice. It'll be fun!

Is there any good video of power landings? Don't think I'll use it since I think landing is safer with motor off and in critical situations if the motor fails that option isn't there anyway, but it'll be interesting to see.

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Great thread. :-)

I would add, to the nav, working out your drift angle before take off ( time to destination based on wind speed / direction ) V your speed..... this is basically what is required of NPPL standards so if you nail it its worth being chuft about. :-)

Google 'aviation triangles of velocity' To see how.

SW :D

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