Lesson 85
25 September 1998
1.2 hours

Wingovers are fun!  Not all that hard, either.  I've just come back from flying around in a 172, practicing intercepting a VOR radial and tracking to the VOR--and from trying wingovers for the first time.

When I got to the airport today, N73852 had just had a 50-hour maintenance and was still parked in front of the maintenance hangar.  Becky Luther (head of flight training) walked me down there to be sure they were really finished with it and then helped me push it out to the line, so I could preflight and start it up without blowing things around inside.  I asked her if she know where I could get some aerobatics lessons and she gave me a guy's name.  Then I asked her if it was okay to do wingovers in a 172.  She didn't answer right away, so I asked if chandelles were okay.  She said--as I already knew--that they were, that they're required for the commercial, and mumbled something about an instructor.

Okay, I thought.  That's cool.  I'd been thinking about this stuff for some time and had read up on it.

It was a bit windy--200 at 10 gusting 14--but nothing to worry about.  I taxied to 15 and ran it up.  Just as I was heading for the hold line at the runway, the pattern started getting busy.  A 172 was on base.  A 152 was downwind.  A Bonanza was behind the 152.  A Citation was approaching from the north.  The 172 did a touch-and-go.  The 152 turned final, very high, maybe compensating for the wind.  The Bonanza turned base.  The Citation was coming straight in.  The Bonanza said he'd give way to the Citation.  The 152 landed.  The Bonanza turned final.  The Citation overtook the Bonanza, but decided to go around.  The Bonanza did a touch-and-go.  The 172 turned base and final in one turn.  The Citation was downwind.  The 172 landed.  The Citation landed.

Meanwhile I was still holding, watching these guys go a round and around.  Another plane was waiting behind me.  The Citation turned off the runway at the far end, but didn't bother to report he was clear, so I sat and watched until he was really clear, and then--finally!--throttled up and got off.

I flew south far enough to clear the pattern and then turned west to begin to practice intercepting and tracking the 150-degree FROM radial of the Flat Rock VOR.  I'd done this before, of course, but somehow was never quite sure I could do it effectively if I really had to.  Okay, I turned the OBS to 330 TO, got onto the radial and tracked right to the VOR.  I wandered all over the place, but finally got there..  Then I turned right to the 360-degree radial FROM and continued on to the north.

Most of that time I held a 500 feet per minute climb, just to see if I could still hold a heading and a specific rate of climb.  Leveled off at 3500, still heading due north on the 360 radial, accelerated to 105 knots, the recommended entry speed for what I was about to try, and trimmed.

Okay, time to see if I can remember what I read about wingovers.

(Note to the knowledgeably nervous:  I was really doing half of a lazy eight each time, rather than a full wingover, in which the bank angle would be up to 90 degrees.  The Cessna 172 POH says lazy eights are approved.  It doesn't mention wingovers at all.)

We'll take it easy, especially on the first one.  Back on the yoke, climb angle increasing, start a left turn, still increasing the climb, keeping the ball centered, airspeed dropping off to 85 knots, still turning, banking at about 60 degrees, nose coming down, starting to roll out to the right now, airspeed building back up to 95 100 105, wings level, pulling up the nose...  All right!  Well, not really all right.  The DG was sitting on 210, so I rolled out 30 degrees too soon.  And the altimeter was down to 3,300 feet, so I lost 200 feet.

Try it again.  Turn to heading 180 and climb back to 3,500 feet.  The same routine, only this time I watch my altitude better and hold the turn a little tighter during the slow part, but still only about 60 degrees, and get down to 80 knots.  Roll out this time at 3,600 feet, but right on the heading.

Again.  Watching everything better this time, climbing a little more sharply, rolling the bank a little steeper until I'm at something like 70 or 75 degrees in the slow part, still keeping the ball centered--whoops! there goes the DG, tumbling like crazy, wowie!--coming downhill again and rolling out, the DG righting itself, pulling up, and I'm back at 3,500, straight and level, and the DG is stable again, showing 170, so I came pretty close.  But maybe that bank was a teensy bit steeper than necessary.

Two more, just to be sure I've got it.. They probably looked terrible from outside, and I certainly can't say I've got wingovers down pat.  But I've done some.

I twisted the OBS to see what radial I was on and tracked it back to Flat Rock, holding the course better this time.  At the same time I throttled back to 2,200 rpm and tried to get to 2,000 feet and the VOR at the same time.  Didn't make it, because I didn't know exactly how far away it was, but came close.

Back at the airport, I made a moderately crappy landing--could it have been the gusty crosswind?  nah, just crappy--but felt good enough about the VOR work and the wingovers that I didn't care.

I saw Becky in the terminal and couldn't keep from telling her, "Wingovers aren't all that hard."

She grinned and hardly rolled her eyes much at all.

"Thanks, Don."

"Just thought you'd want to know."

(Does one ever get over being a smart-ass?)

I had brought along my old handheld GPS and just now looked at my track.  On the .1 mile display, the tightest it does, three of the wingovers look like a narrow, sharp-pointed V, almost a single line entering and exiting--right back on itself, in other words.  That's not possible, but it does suggest that they were about as tight as they felt.


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