30 October 1997, Thursday, noon
Lesson Four
1.1 hours

Before going up today , we spent about 1.7 hours reviewing and clarifying a lot of things, a very helpful session for me.  Let's see if I can summarize it now.

About runways:  Chesterfield County Airport has one runway, but the two ends are different in their equipment and classification.  The 15 end is what the textbook calls a Nonprecision Instrument runway.  Adam leaves off the "Instrument."  The 33 end is a Precision Instrument runway.

What's the diff?  (This is in the book, but I'll try to get it right here from memory and my notes.)  Superficially, at least, the difference is in the paint markings.  Both have two sets of four longitudal white lines called Threshold Markers, before the runway number.   Runway 33 has in addition two sets of three Touchdown Zone markers 500 feet down from the end of the runway and two sets of heavy solid Fixed Distance markers at 1,000 feet from the end.  Then there are sets of two lines and finally of one line farther down the runway that is 3,000 feet from the end.  All runway markings are white.  The edge markings are white, but turning to yellow and finally to red toward the far end.  That's so you know when you've run out of runway.  The threshold marker lights are white as you're landing , but red at the far end.

Some runways have an extra area before the Threshold marker; it's marked with painted chevrons.  The threshold here is called a "Displaced Threshold."  The idea is that you can use it for taking off, but not for landing because there's some obstruction that would keep you from getting down on it.  Some other runways ahve a Balst APad, or Stopway, or Overrun area.  You can't use it for either taking off or landing--only in case you're in trouble and need it to keep from running off the end of the runway.

A basic VFR runway just has the number and a dashed centerline.  There's also a STOL runway, but we didn't discuss them today.

Taxiway markings are yellow, and the edge lights are blue.  Taxiway markers--the little illuminated signs that tell you where you are, have a letter and two numbers, such as E 33 - 15 which means it's taxiway Echo; and the 33 end is to the left, 15 to the right.

The Hold (or holdshort) lines are where you stop before the line and before entering or crossing a taxiway or runway.  I thought Adam said you always stop on the side away from the runway, but the book says stop before crossing the holdshort line, which seems sensible to me.  I'll have to ask him again about this.

Taxiing and the wind.  Adam's mnemonic for tailwind is "Dive away from a tailwaind."  In other words, stick forward to put the elevators down, so the wind doesn't lift up the tail; and stick away from the side the wind is coming from, to put the upwind aileron down.  I'm not sure the aileron part agrees with my intuition, but my intuition needs to get that straightened out.  For a headwind, the mnemonic is "Head into the headwind."  That is, the aileron control is toward the side the wind's coming from; this keeps the upwind wing from lifting up.  "Head into" also means keep the elevators neutral.  The book says that's for tricycle gear.  Planes with conventional gear--tailwheel--need the elevators up in a headwind.  Adam's mnemonics aren't in the book--but should be.  They make sense of a long, complex discussion that I hadn't really understood when I read it.

That's typical of textbooks, I guess--make relatively simple things complicated.

Radio calls.  I finally got this straight today.  At an uncontrolled airport (i.e., no control tower) like Chesterfield, you need to tell the other traffic in the area where you are and what you're going to do.  That's obvious enough, I guess, but I was confused--because, as it turned out, of my previous experience at Reading, a controlled airport.  There, you called the tower for clearance to taxi, take off, and land.  You didn't normally have to do any other radio work.  Here, however, you need to call--to report what you're planning to do, mainly, rather than request anything.  If it's a problem to anyone, they'll let you know.  So you say, for example, "Chesterfield traffic, Cessna 4725bravo, is downwind for runway 33."

Zowie!  NOW it's clear to me, and it's no problem at all. When you say "traffic" you're addressing every other aircraft in the area.
This is another of those little educational epiphanies, where one little thing suddenly makes everything else fit together and clear and seem obvious.  In this case, it was just figuring out that one word, "traffic."  Cool!

Prelanding check.  MEMORIZE THIS !!!  Despite going over it before going up, I still had to look at the damn checklist in the air.

  1. Seat belts and harness SECURE.
  2. Fuel valve ON.
  3. Mixture RICH.
  4. Carb heat AS REQUIRED.  (The book says ON, but Adam's insistance on "as required" makes better sense, as you may still be at cruising speed and rpm and not want heat yet.)
Chesterfield traffic pattern.  We've been through this before, but we review it all again, this time with the radio calls included.  Adam writes it all out for me on a sheet of paper--everything to do and say on every leg of the pattern.  Here's what he wrote:

Before Take-off - Chesterfield Traffic  Cessna 4725B is departing runway ___(i.e., 33, 15).

If closed traffic:  announce legs
    1.) crosswind - Chesterfield traffic  Cessna 4725B is X-wind for runway 33.
    2.) downwind - Chesterfield traffic  Cessna 4725B is downwind for runway 33.
        a.) midfield - prelanding check
            aa.) seatbelts/shoulder - On
            ab.) fuel valve - On
            ac.) misture - Rich
            ad.) carb heat - as required
        b.) abeam the numbers:
            a.) carb heat - On
            b.) power -1500 RPM
            c.) airspeed - 10o of flaps when in the white arc; looking for 70 kts
    3.) base - Chesterfield traffic  Cessna 4725B on base for runway 33.
        a.) airspeed - still 70 kts
        b.) flaps - 20o
    4.) final - Chesterfield traffic  Cessna 4725B on final for landing runway 33.
        a.) airspeed - should be 60-65 kts
        b.) flaps - put to 30o once runway is made if engine should fail.
        c.) power - adjust power to maintain on the glide slope (or altitude)
            aa.) altitude is high - reduce power
            ab.) altitude is low - add power

The radio parts are clear to me now, and the rest--well I really ought to know it cold by now.  It's simple enough...

In the airplane.  It's fun to see the teacher deliberately letting go.  After getting the keys from Erin, Adam said, "Why you go and get started and I'll be right out."  Okay.  What plane is it today?  Check the book.  Oh, yeah, N4725B.  I walk out to the ramp and scout around, trying to find 4725B.  Find it and start the preflight.  Find a loose screw next to a missing one on the vertical stabilizer, and twist it in.  It's stripped--but the plane's obviously been flown that way for a while, so I make a mental note to mention it to Adam and keep on going.  I'm around to the right wing, draining the tank, when he gets there.  He says the screw probably isn't going to cause a problem, but says we'll report it when we get back.  No big deal.  Finish the preflight, while he watches, pretending not to, from a distance.  We get in, and, because this plane has different radios than any of the others, it takes me a while to figure them out, even with his help.  Four Cessna 152s, all fitted out differently.

Start the engine. There's no wind at all, but the other traffic is using 33, so that's where we head.  On the way, Adam makes me simulate taxiing in various tail- and headwinds, and now I've got it, thanks to his mnemonics.  We note the taxiway markers and various lights, to reinforce that classroom work.  At the runup area, I get through the checklist all right, including the one for engine failure before lifting off and when in the air.  (I can't remember them clearly now--should memorize them.)  Adam calls the traffic, and we taxi out onto the runway, line up on the center line, and go to full throttle.  We start rolling, steering with the rudder pedals is coming easier now, pull back at 55 and we rotate.  This time I manage to keep the airspeed right on 70 (most of the time) and the pitch reasonable, too, and pretty soon we're at pattern altitude and still climbing.

I experiment with the trim, getting a better feel for it.  "Pitch, power, trim" is the mantra for changing altitude.  We do a few 30-degree turns, and Adam seems satisfied that I'm able to hold the bank and the altitude well enough.  (Not well, but I guess well enough for now.)

He finds a long narrow clearing in the trees--there are a couple of houses along a road: we'll use it for simulated landings, without actually touching down.  We go around two times, "landing" 500 feet above the ground.  Now that I have that magic word "traffic" clear, I can simulate the radio calls easily.  It feels a little odd, landing in mid-air like that, but it seems to go okay.

Adam realizes he's going to be late for a 3 o'clock appointment--it's already 3:15--so we had back to the airport, and I don't screw up too much getting into the pattern and onto the ground.  I notice he's still helping out now and then, but not much.  His appointment is waiting, looking a little irked, when we get to the ramp.

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