Flight Lesson 10: Steep turns and spirals, oh my!

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Today I had my tenth flight lesson at Peninsulair in which I got to practice steep turns and recovering from spiral dives. Our plane today was FTDS which is really nice because the trim is in the ceiling. Here’s FTDS, click the image for the bigger version:

Steep Turns

A steep turn is a turn made at a 45° bank angle. It sounds simple enough, but in practice it’s a bit tougher. As the plane goes through 30°, the lift provided by the wings decreases significantly. Also, there is a high G load on the plane so an extra 200-300 RPM is required to maintain altitude. Here’s a short video to give you an idea of what a steep turn looks like.

I had no problem turning to the right, but when it came to left turns I couldn’t help but look down towards the ground. This allowed the nose to drop and in thus we lost altitude. After a few more turns I got the hang of it…and then it happened:

As I was recovering, my instructor, Kenny, and I noticed a plane at our 11 o’clock high; I would say he was less than 500 ft above us. He didn’t broadcast on the en-route frequency (126.70 MHz) so we had NO idea he was there. After we had him in sight, Kenny broadcasted (for the third time in 30 minutes):

Hamilton air traffic, Cherokee FTDS is West of Nanticoke at 4,000 doing upper air work between 4,000 and 2,000. All conflicting traffic please advise TDS.

And we heard nothing. I doubt the other plane was even tuned to the en-route frequency. It was a pretty close call.

Spiral Dives

A spiral is a spin (haven’t done one of those yet) where the airspeed increases (in a spin, the airplane is usually stalled to some degree). I didn’t practice getting into a spiral (since you don’t want to do it normally) but I did get a chance to practice a couple of recoveries.

To recover from a spiral dive:

  1. Throttle to idle.
  2. Gently level the wings with the ailerons.
  3. Slowly pull the nose up to cruise attitude.
  4. Allow airspeed to drop to cruise and restore power.

You really get to feel the G load in a spiral dive. When my instructor demonstrated it, I wanted to see how heavy my hand would feel and wow! It took about 3-4 times the regular strength so we were pulling about 4 Gs or so. It was quite amazing!

Apart from the lesson another great highlight was seeing the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum planes in action. The Avro Lancaster bomber was out and about (click the image for the gallery from the CWHM:

As was the Boeing Stearman PT-27 Kadet:
Stearman Kadet with the Lancaster in the background

All in all it was a good day to fly. I also got a few shots of the Cargojet Boeing 757:

I’ve also set up a Flickr set with pictures from Hamilton International, check it out!