Straight and Level flight
Tuesday was my second flight lesson which consisted of getting the plane into and maintaining straight and level flight. The straight part means keeping a constant heading, while the level refers to maintaining a constant altitude. While the weather wasn’t exactly great at the time of my flight, I was still able to rack up 0.7 hours of flight time.
The Ground Briefing
In the classroom, Bob covered the basics of this exercise. In the Piper Cherokees that we use:
- 2300 – 2400 RPM should give about 100 kts which is the airspeed the plane should be at in the cruise attitude
- a change of 100 RPM should give roughly a 5 kt change in the airspeed
When increasing the power, you should expect:
- the plane to yaw left, therefore apply right rudder
- the nose to pitch up, therefore push the control column forward
When decreasing the power, the opposites held true.
We covered compass problems such as the northerly magnetic dip and the precession issues of gyroscopic instruments such as the heading indicator which would be used in the plane to keep me on a straight course.
I headed out and did the walk around by myself and as I was finishing up, Bob showed up and we got the show on the road…err well in the air. Rain started coming down as we taxied from the apron to the runway and it was quite difficult to see. Not having any windshield wipers we resorted to running the propeller at a high rate to push the water off the windscreen.
We took off and runway 30 and kept runway heading for a bit while at the same time we tried to stay away from clouds. At about 2,000′ Bob gave me control of the aircraft and I had to keep us straight and level. The air was pretty turbulent and visibility was very poor from up there. It was very difficult to distinguish a natural horizon among the fog so I relied on my instruments more than I would normally. We flew around staying away from clouds then returned back to the airport. It was a short flight but I definitely think I’ve gotten the hang of it (if my Flight Simulator skills are anything to go by, I’ve learned a lot so far).
I will have the opportunity to practice straight and level flight over and over again seeing as how it is the type of flight I will be spending the most amount of time in. Next up: Climbs and Descents.