Lesson Six
6 November 1997
1.4 hours
Today's lesson included some power off stalls, slow flight, and landings.

Cessna 4725 bravo again today.  I'm beginning to like that plane.  It's a little newer than the other 152s, I think, and is rated "Utility" category, so the wings won't fall off in a spin. I think the others are category "Normal," but their wings probably won't fall off in a spin, either.  They had replaced the loose screw with a fatter one and the missing screw with a normal one.

Power off stalls are so gentle in the Cessna 152 that I actually had some trouble getting it to stall at first.  You begin with a pair of clearing turns to make sure no one's nearby.  Then you go through the pre-maneuver check: Belts and harnesses secure, fuel valve on, mixture rich. For this maneuver, next it's carb heat on, throttle back to 1500 rpm and hold the altitude by pitching up as the speed drops off until the needle is in the white arc and you can add flaps.  You want to get to full flaps and let the speed drop to about 60 knots, then pull the throttle back to idle and get the nose up--still holding your altitude constant.  At about 50 knots the stall warning starts screeching in your headphones.  As the wing finally stalls the nose drops by itself, so you hardly have to move the yoke forward much at all.  Full throttle, carb heat off, raise the flaps ten degrees.  As the plane accelerates, take out another ten degrees of flap, and then take the rest out and continue accelerating.  The first time I tried, it never really stalled because I hadn't pitched up enough, but I got it okay on later tries.  I was surprised by how slowly it accelerated after recovery--seemed to take forever to get up to 70, even though we weren't climbing at all.  I didn't lose much altitude in the stall, but had trouble keeping from gaining altitude because I wasn't coordinating the elevators and the throttle smoothly.  But Adam seem to think I was doing well enough, and we went right on to slow flight.

Slow flight turns out to be relatively easy and fun.  It begins just like setting up a power off stall.  After doing some clearing turns, you pull on the carb heat and throttle back to 1500 rpm.  As the speed bleeds off you apply back pressure to hold the altitude and, when the needle in in the white arc, add flaps ten degrees at a time until they're full and you're down to about 40 knots and the stall warning is sounding.  Then you throttle up to about 2000 rpm, keeping the altitude constant with the throttle and the speed constant with the elevators.  What surprised me is that the 152 feels very stable flying that way.  The controls are mushy--after all, you're going only 40 knots, or about 46 mph--and response is slow, but the thing just chugs along, very stable, as if it likes to fly that way.

The syllabus and the instructors keep clamoring about how you have to use plenty of right rudder to keep from yawing, how horrid it is to hold your altitude, and all, but I had no problems with those things at all--just with getting the feel of the recovery to keep from gaining altitude.  Of course, it was very calm today.  The one and only bump, a little one, came when we flew over a small cloud.  On a bumpier day, it might be a lot harder to keep straight and level.

We flew back to the field and entered the pattern on downwind for runway 33.  I managed to get everything done, but we went a little long before turning base, and I didn't think to crab against the crosswind, but finally got lined up on final.  Then I tried to slip to the right because of the cross wind, but over-corrected with the ailerons, and didn't get in enough opposite rudder, and drifted off to the right.  Finally got it down all right, with Adam prompting and probably adding a little of his subtle pressure to the controls.  We did a full stop and then taxied back around and took off again.  Takeoff was only so-so, as at one point I let the nose get a bit high just as a gust of wind passed out from under us and the stall warning peeped twice.  But the nose came right back down, so there was no real problem.  We stayed in the pattern.  I did the "Chesterfield traffic..." radio calls okay, except for forgetting to say which runway we were crosswind on.  Did the pre-landing check in plenty of time to set up the turn to base, and kept it lined up better--though not great--and flared a foot or two too high, so it was clear when we touched down, but at least we didn't bounce.  I think Adam stayed off the controls altogether that time, and he prompted me only once, I think, so I felt reasonably comfortable about that landing.  Need to do a bunch more, though, before I'll begin feeling confident.

It's odd:  I can remember a lot of my earlier experiences in my head, but my muscles have complete amnesia.  Once in a while I sense the muscle-memory making things go right, but usually it's as if I'd never flown before at all.  When I was trying to slip into the crosswind today, for example.  I used to love slipping and got to feel confident doing it in that little Aeronca.  Today, however, the muscles didn't remember--or were confused by being in a different airplane--and I couldn't get it to come out right.  Practice!

Another thing is that the Aeronca didn't have flaps, so in the 152 I have to learn everything over again with the flaps involved in the maneuver.  No big deal, though.

What gives me trouble?  There are so many different texts, manuals, syllabuses, handouts, and all, that I'm never sure which to concentrate on.  Also, because of weather conditions and who knows what else, the flying lessons don't always follow the syllabus, so sometimes I'm not sure what's coming next.  That's not really a big problem, though.  Flying is BIG, and learning it means learning a lot of things at once.  There's an analogy with language learning, I think.  Learning English, say, when you're home in Japan or Russia can be relatively systematic because you don't have to use English.  But when you're in America or some other English-speaking country, you have to know everything at once, just to talk to a native speaker.  That's why ESL classes are usually more complicated than EFL classes.

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