Lesson 2 – Stall Recovery Procedure, Unusual Flight Attitudes, Practice Forced Landings (PFL) Training
I arrived at the Deanland Airfield 30 mins early only to be told that flights were all delayed. I didn’t mind as it gave me some time to psyche myself up for my second lesson which promised to be another in which I would be put through my paces in an effort to get me up to the standard required for the Microlight General Skills Test (GST). After this, my previous flying hours would make me eligible for the award of the NPPL(m).
My instructor Tom, briefed me on the order for the day:
Stall Recovery Procedure
Recovery From Unusual Attitudes
Today was also the first time I was allowed to take off. I hate the overuse of the word awesome these days but needless to say, it was awesome! One stage of flap, full power, pull back at around 40 knots, climb out at 60. There was a bit of a crosswind but I corrected any drift with some into wind rudder. Oh how I love escaping the surly bonds of earth! Once at our cruise altitude of 2500 ft we began the training.
Stall Recovery Procedure
An aircraft stalls whenever the critical angle of attack is exceeded. At high nose attitudes, the airflow over the top of the wing becomes turbulent and lift is drastically reduced resulting in nose and wing drop. It is essential to recover the aircraft else you may be re-connected with those surly bonds sooner than planned.
Before any practiced stall, you have to carry out the HASELL checks to ensure good airmanship
- H – height (minimum 1000 ft AGL)
- A – airframe (flaps as required)
- S – security (seat belts secure, hatches secure, check lose items secure)
- E – engine (T’s and P’s in the green)
- L – location
- L – lookout (clearing turn to see all around, above and below)
Tom talked me through one then it was over to me. I pulled back the power to idle, applying back pressure to keep the Ikarus flying level on the horizon. As the airspeed approached the clean stall speed of 40 knots, there was some slight aerodynamic buffet just before the stall. As soon as the nose pitches down, the procedure is:
- Control column forwards to reduce the angle of attack
- Increase power to full to minimise height loss
- As soon as a safe airspeed is reached, raise nose and adopt a shallow climb attitude.
Recovering From Unusual Attitudes
Unusual attitudes are combinations of high degrees of up or down pitch and high bank angles which occur within the flight envelope. Why would you be flying in such a fashion? Well there are a number of reasons such as encountering wake turbulence at an aerodrome, flying in severe weather conditions, getting lost in cloud (microlights are only flown VFR) or your passenger accidently moving the control column. Whatever reason you find yourself in an unusual attitude, you need to know how to recover safely.
Tom demonstrated the four basic unusual attitudes first before asking me to perform the recovery:
- Nose High – This is characterised by a rapidly decreasing airspeed. In order to prevent a stall from happening apply full power whilst simultaneously positively lowering the nose to level or just below. Once airspeed has reached climbing speed (60 kts in the Ikarus) adopt a climbing attitude to regain any lost height.
- Nose Low – The danger here is exceeding Vne (never exceed speed which in the Ikarus C42 is 97 kts and represented on the ASI with a red radial line). To recover close the throttle and raise nose out of the dive. Once airspeed decreases to normal climb speed, apply full throttle and adopt the climb attitude.
- Nose Low And Banked – The recovery is similar to that of nose low; close the throttle, roll wings level then ease out of dive adopting a shallow climb attitude. When airspeed decreases to normal climb speed, apply full throttle and adopt climb attitude.
- Nose High And Banked – This will be characterised by a decreasing airspeed which could potentially lead to a stall and a spin. To recover apply full power and simultaneously lower the nose, roll wings level and once airspeed has increased to climb speed, raise the nose into a climb
Practice Forced Landings (PFL) Training
The sound of an engine spluttering to silence when 3000 ft above the ground is, thank God, something most pilots will never have the misfortune of experiencing. However, training for engine failures forms a vital part in flying training, and pilots must be able to react calmly and quickly, bringing the aircraft down in a safe and controlled manner.
An engine can fail for a number of reasons including:
- Mechanical failure
- Electrical problems
- Fuel delivery problems
Required regular maintenance means engine failures are extremely rare. However, aircraft should always be flown with potential engine failures in mind, meaning flight should be in such a position and height to ensure a safe landing should the engine stop.
Here is the procedure to follow should you experience engine failure:
- Keep aircraft flying – once the engine stops, adopt the best glide angle which will usually mean lowering the nose. For the Ikarus, this speed is around 60 kts.
- Estimate wind direction and strength – there are a number of ways we can determine this:
- Surface indications – such as water surface ripples, wind patterns in crops etc
- Drift– difference between heading and track across the ground
- Known heading – noting the wind direction from a forecast or pre-flight wind observation
- Cloud shadow – observing movement of cloud shadows can give indication of wind direction. Note however, that this will give wind direction at cloud height and there may be a significant difference at ground level
- Select landing area according to the following suitable criteria
- Size and shape
- Make a descent plan – by choosing a method appropriate to the height and position of the aircraft relative to the chosen touch down point. There are two basic methods to choose from:
The constant aspect method – to be used if you are able to get the aircraft to a height of 1000 ft AGL at the beginning of the downwind leg. The landing area should be kept on the same side as the pilot so constant visual contact with a fixed point in the middle of the landing area can be maintained. Landing into wind is obviously always preferable.
Beats and turns method – to be used if you are near the base leg of of a suitable into wind landing area. The aircraft is flown backwards and forwards on the base leg in order to lose height. At the ends of the base leg (or beat line) the aircraft is turned to position on the base leg to travel in the opposite direction. All turns must be towards the field.
To be honest, although Tom said that I would’ve got into my chosen field OK, I had little idea as to whether I was using the constant aspect or beats and turns method. I was too focused on positioning the aircraft to enable me to make a safe attempted landing. Luckily this was only an exercise and not a real life engine failure, so at 500 ft I applied full throttle and climbed away from the startled cows and sheep!
Back to Deanland
It had been a really intense lesson, so I didn’t complain too much when it was time to return to Deanland. I flew all the way back and landed on runway 24, my first landing in 17 years! It was a bit of a floater but I managed to get the Ikarus back down on terra firma safely.
Go slip those surly bonds!