Learning to Fly – Day Eighteen (Stalling)

With the family secured in a villa relatively close by (40 minutes’ drive), I was now seeing them every day and I would come to the villa to sleep unless we were doing late night flying… which, as it happened, we would be!  Ah well.  Gerry had the marvellous idea that we should spend the daytime at the training grounds stalling. I had the session pushed to late afternoon so I could take Simon and Kristoffer to “Sun’n’Fun” the yearly air-show at Lakeland airport.  When you consider the discussions arising from the 2 accidents at Biggins Hill last year you get an insight into the difference in culture when you hear about “Sun’n’Fun”.  It goes on for a week every year and there is at least one fatality per year and often one per day.  They have ½ million people coming in, not all, but many by plane.  They normally run two runways but for that week, they do two things. They make one taxiway running parallel to one of the runways into another runway and call them 27L and 27R and (this is the insane part) they cut each into 2 so they request people to land long or to hold short.  I.e. I could be told to land on the first half of RW 27R and hold short because someone is also landing, but on the second half of the RW.  This is really so insane that the flight centre I train at forbid everyone, students, instructors or people hiring, to fly to Lakeland during this week.  On the first day, a Piper Warrior (Like the one I fly) and a home-build plane collided mid-air over the runway. The Piper pilot is still critically injured in hospital and the other pilot was declared dead on arrival.  They have had four other collisions either on the runway or so low that everyone walked away.  Well, Simon, Kristoffer and I drove to Lakeland and looked at all the aircrafts.  I saw my three “lottery” aircrafts: A Pilatus PC-12, A Piper Meridian and a TMP-700.  At the Piper stall, a sales-guy came up and talked to me.  I told him I would love a Meridian but it was a little outside my league. However, could he talk to me about the Arrow?  He asked me if I had a card (cheeky devil) and was suitably impressed with my “Executive Director of Morgan Stanley” card to haul off all sorts of goodies for the kids, give me a tour of the aircrafts and taking me through all the functions etc etc.  It is very nice and I think I will be looking for a 1/3 of an Arrow when I get back to the UK.  The boys enjoyed themselves and back at the airfield, I ordered delivery pizza that they could wait for and eat while Gerry took me to the training grounds for the first stalls of the day. Talking to some other student pilots it seems most have a strange relationship to stalls.  Granted, real stalls are not good but it is because you want to be able to handle these that you practice stalls so much. And the practice stalls?  It is not half as bad as a roller coaster in Disney World. So we did our clean stalls, our landing stalls, our turning stalls etc etc. Back to the airfield, pick up the kids (and eat the one slice of Pizza left over – my lunch!) drive them back to the Villa and then I drove back to the airfield for night flying.  That felt like stalls of a different nature.  Gerry warned me against vertigo at night because you lose sense of horizon, up and down with stars and street light. I had none of that. However, I did not like not being able to see to the end of the RW on take-off and I did not like pointing the nose of the aircraft at “nothing” or a black hole on final approach before landing. The whole night was touch and goes and even though my landings did improve slightly it was a very depressing feeling being stalled from being able to land reasonably well basically every time during the day and feeling very poor at it during the night. I found (OK, Gerry found) that my main problem was flaring (pulling up just before landing) too soon. It is partly because the impression of the RW changes in reduced light and partly a greater fear of crashing into the RW that causes a tendency to pull too early. I was not in a much better mood when I went to sleep. However, FAA requires a little night flying and I thought I might as well do enough to get the night rating on my CAA license too. So you could say, I asked for it.

Summary after 18 days:
Flown:  3 hours 6 minutes
Total flying time: 50 hours and 9 minutes.
Solo: 10 hours 42 minutes.
Day 1Day 16 Day 17 – Day 18Day 19Day 20Day 23

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.