Happy New Year! Well this will be a short entry, because it was a short week. The weather did not cooperate at all, I only flew one day this week! I went the entire first week of the this new year without flying. I was well aware of the downtime I would inevitably have when starting flight school at the beginning of the winter in the Northeast, but this past week really wore me down. If you have been reading since my first post you know that on my very first official day of flight school, we did no fly due to weather. I wrote in that post that it did not discourage me and I knew it was to be expected at this time of the year. I went back and reread my words and that helped me get through the continuous back to back days which did not allow us to fly. Sunday came around and we finally had an opportunity to fly; the morning after the first snowstorm of the season painted our area white.
I got to the airport, conditions were bright and clear but we had wind gusting to 22 knots. Not having flown for the entire week, I wanted to fly despite the gusty conditions. Our lesson for the day was on emergency procedures. We flew out to the practice area, and my instructor demonstrated the procedure to follow in the event of an unexpected engine failure.
As we cruised around in normal flight, we cut the power simulating an engine failure. The first thing to do is pitch the airplane up to set our best glide speed, 68 knots. We trim for this setting as we look out for a suitable landing area, and start to fly toward it. My instructor selected a field which he deemed suitable for landing had this been a true emergency. As he flew toward the field at the best glide speed, he began the engine restart checklist. Fuel selector on both, fuel cutoff in, mixture rich, cycle throttle and set halfway, fuel pump to on, master switch check on, magnetos both. This checklist is done in a matter of seconds, from memory, and then we call air traffic control. Mayday! Mayday! Mayday! followed by our call sign, position, emergency, and intentions. Next he gave me the passenger brief, as we continued to descend to our intended landing place. As we approached 500ft AGL, my instructor demonstrated a ‘slip’ which is a maneuver which can help to further reduce our altitude and get us down faster if needed. At this moment, a massive gust of wind came and tossed us uncomfortably off course. We initiated a go around, adding full power and climbing out of our mock-engine-out scenario.
The gusty conditions of the day made it very difficult for me to practice emergencies as I kept getting blown off course from my chosen landing spot. Before heading back to the airport my instructor demonstrated a spiraling decent, a maneuver that could be used in the event of an engine fire or other emergency that would require getting the aircraft on the ground as fast as possible. In the spiraling desent, you are spiraling basically straight down at just below the “do not exceed” speed of the aircraft. What a ride! I can’t wait to start learning and practicing these maneuevers myself.
We headed back to the airport and called it a day. I didn’t get to practice much of the manevuers myself, but the weather is looking better for the coming week, and I am scheduled for almost everyday. I’ll have alot more to report next time, and will be very close to my first solo!