Lesson 36, Lots of landings and side slipping

Yes it was going to be a perfect day for flying. Arrived at the airport (NZRT) at 0700 to get the plane ready.

Dave briefed me about his plans for today:

  • Instead of Touch and Go’s I am going to do Stop Start’s. This is when landing, so you come to a complete stop. The aim is to get more really low speed experience, as this is were directional control is hardest.
  • Do more side slipping, a powerful tool to drop altitude while on final (=landing)

Had a really good lesson !!  🙂

As always, initial landings are a bit hairy, wasn’t that bad, but I noticed that I was making big improvements. The biggest thing to control is airspeed. Making sure that it drops down to 55kn during finals and 50kn just before roundout, dropping below 50 down to 47kn or so when rounding out. At the same time if there is some wind from the side, using rudder to keep going straight, before “dropping out of the sky” and landing.

Taking off and raising the tail soon after making some speed is good for getting more visibility and keeping the Kitfox on the ground before pulling the stick at the right speed to take off again 🙂

The side slips are going well, although I always stop that a bit earlier then required to give me time to prepare for the landing. While side slipping it’s not just maintaining the right direction and keeping an eye on my altitude but also slowly dropping the air speed to around 50kn with the same stick I use for directional control, that’s if the rudder is fully right.

Still feels a but strange as I am hanging into the door, well feels like that !

But yes I am happy, and Dave thinks I am making good progress. Been flying the Kitfox 9.7hrs now. A little bit more and I think he is going to make me do a solo flight, well in a few weeks, maybe a month or do 🙂 🙂

Lesson 35, Landings landings and more landings

Early up again for 0800 take-off at NZRT.

We (Dave and I) were talking a bit about last weeks lesson and the ballooning (jumping up after touch down) I was doing. Dave decided that the landing speed of 50kn was possibly to high. So after take-off, we left the circuit tracking North West to a safe altitude and did some stalls, trying to check the stall speed. That turns out to be about 40kn.

So after we joined the circuit at standard height of 1500ft from the traffic side, we started doing circuits at low level (500ft) to get a lot of them.

Today was a demanding day with a brisk Nor Easterly wind about 20 deg from the left landing on RWY07.

Air speed (or energy stored in the plane) is very important in preparation to a good landing:

So during finals I fly at about 55kn, slowing this down to about 50kn when reaching the threshold (start of the runway). Then when about to flare, I am trying to get to like 47 or something and fly horizontal, just above the ground, raising the nose more and more, until we stall / land.

During takeoff, as soon as the power goes on, stick goes forward to raise the nose, so I can see in front of me, and the main landing gear gets pushed down and when getting to 50, pull the stick and take off.

Definitely a bit trickier with some side wind and a bit gusty, but I am really impressed with myself, how things were going. A lot better again then last week

Lesson 34, Circuits with glide approach and side-slipping

As the weather didn’t work out yesterday (Saturday) Dave offered me to have a lesson today, Sunday in the evening.

Got the plane ready and took off at about 1800.

Today we were going to do a few normal circuits, followed by circuits with glide approach and start practicing side slipping when on final (landing).

Overall, the hardest thing is still keeping straight on the runway. Hardest is when landing, as the engine is running idle and you are slowing down, so less and less air to be able to use the rudder. Its a bit easier when taking off, as the engine goes full power, but still I am 150% busy trying to keep it straight. Next time I see Dave, I am going to talk about this lesson. It was almost as it was a lot harder today then in the last lesson.

One thing I realize now is that today Dave told me not to lift the tail during landing and take-off. This limits the view. All I can see is my side of the runway, can’t see forward. Where as last week, as soon as I lift the tail during take-off you have a much better view and feeling of how things go, and when to pull the stick during take-off.

Same during a landing. We were doing a lot of ballooning (bouncing after first touch-down). Also had problems keeping the plane straight. Never did a ground loop, but definitely the beginning of one. This happened twice.

I have the feeling, if I could lift the tail immediately after landing, the view would be un-restricted, and the rudder would get more airflow, making it easier to stay straight.

Anyway, practice, practice, practice is what I need !!!

The glide approaches, are not so hard, just getting used to the plane and getting a feel of gliding the plane back to the runway, without engine power, and getting to the threshold (start of the runway) with enough height to spare.

This is all about getting used to landing somewhere in case you have a real engine failure!!

And then the last thing today was side slipping. During the last few glide approach landing, I had to come in a bit higher then normal so I could side slip. This basically means flying sideways.

You do this by giving right rudder (makes the plane turn right) and left aileron (to compensate for the right turn).

The result of all this is that you still go straight, this is when in final (landing), but you are loosing a lot of height fast!!  I noticed that the little air vent in the window on my side, that hardly lets any air through during normal flight, had lots of air coming through during side slipping. This is because the plane is flying side ways, so lots more air is “hitting” my side of the plane. Then when I am about one wing-span high above the ground, the stick and rudder goes neutral again and everything is normal, about time to flare, pulling the stick to start flying level with the ground, and loosing more and more speed until the plane drops out of the sky and on the ground: the landing. 🙂

Oh yes and while side-slipping, flying side ways, being pushed into the door, because the plane tilts left, I also need to fly at the right speed, all with that one stick, left and right to side-slip straight, and forward and backwards to maintain the correct speed….   phhhhhhh

Talking brain overload !!! And then as explained above, as soon as you touch the ground, the rudder needs to work over time to keep straight 🙂  🙂

The things you need to do to become a tail wheel pilot !!  BUT REALLY ENJOYED THE LESSON AGAIN. Ready for next one, next week  🙂

Made a mould

I have made a mould of the helmet using “Plaster of Paris” and bits of paper kitchen towel. Have just painted the inside with some paint I found in the shed, to make it “water tight” to get it ready for the next stage:

Filling it up with…. the same “Plaster of Paris” so I get the original shape back again and I can start shaping the leather that’s going to cover the helmet to make it authentic !!  🙂

Mould of helmet
Mould of helmet

Lesson 33, Circuits, 3 and 2 point landings, and side slipping

Yep was in the air again today. 0800 Bright and early!! Beautiful summers day, blue skies, and Easterly slowly picking up.

Today I did about 8 to 10 circuits. All low level ones meaning that you don’t go up to 1000ft AGL but only 500ft and the down wing “LOW” level is halfway between the run way and the “normal ” downwind leg. That way you can do more landings and take-off’s, which is what I need now I am flying KNZ the tail dragger “kindly” made available by www.southerntaildraggers.co.nz

Overall it went quite well. Made a few good round out’s landing nicely. That also means I made mistakes, like flying to height and stalling to early, basically dropping onto the runway.

One thing to remember with KNZ is to make sure the airspeed is dropped to 50kts, and during the round-out, keep on puling the stick more and more, until there is no more energy left.

Then full attention to the rudder and directional control. Sound easy but its not (yet). You need to pay 150% attention to your directional control straight after touch down, and when thats under control, apply full power again which makes it easier to stay straight. Then stick forward to lift the tail, so you see the whole runway again, and then pull the stick to get airborne !!!!  🙂

Also during the down wind I started experimenting with the initial stages of a side slip. Basically right rudder and left aileron. Or the opposite controls. But when piloting on the left you would do right rudder and left aileron for the best “view”. Oh yes side slipping is a method for loosing lots of height in a short time. Very useful when landing.

That’s it I think, yes was a good morning !!!!


Piston design ready

Been to see Richard again today, and yes the design of the new piston is ready. This should give me a compression ratio of 7:1 just a nice step up from what I have now, but still a modest ratio. Two computer model images to give you an idea what they look like. You can see the extra dome on top of the “current flat top” and the clearance for the two spark plugs, and for the two valves (mixture and exhaust) 🙂