Exercises for Proficiency

In consideration of the many issues involved in flying most of us walk a tightrope of maintaining proficiency, staying financially solvent, including keeping the employer and family happy. For those of us that fall into this category we want to accomplish the most during our practice flights leaving more money for trips with family or friends.

During practice VFR flights there are 5 maneuvers that can help to establish yourself during critical flight regimes, plus they will add a measure of confidence and proficiency. It’s important to hold yourself to a higher standard to maximize safety and to spend the minimum amount of time practicing. In order to maintain or increase your skill level try and do these maneuvers maybe once a month. This will also help to insure you maintain the proper feel for the airplane. Before practicing these maneuvers do consider why they were developed and what skills, particularly, they are aiming for.

Three of these maneuvers are taken from the commercial PTS Manuel which is intended to bring out increased performance from both airplane and pilot. Most pilots are surprised at the amount of confidence obtained from these maneuvers when done in the correct manner.

CHANDELLE – This maneuver does not have much practical application but it does provide very important lessons in aerodynamics and helps to develop a feel for how pitch and roll are controlled independently from one another.

STEEP TURNS – Instructors have said that this maneuver to be the one that indicates whether or not the pilot is truly on top of the airplane. Steep turns require proper rudder use, familiarity with handling characteristics, a smooth roll in and roll out on heading, knowledge of how bank angles effect wing loading and how wing loading effects the attitude required to maintain altitude. When done at different airspeeds control aspects change rapidly requiring a closer connection to the airplane. I forgot to mention, if you think you have these down try a 60 degree bank angle, everyone needs a new perspective from time to time.

ILS – You don’t have to be an instrument rated pilot to practice ILS approaches. This exercise will help to establish or enhance precise lateral control. The vertical component of the ILS is excellent for refining power management. As we have discussed before it is to your advantage to be familiar with instrument approach terminology for arriving IFR traffic at uncontrolled airports.

GO AROUND – This maneuver helps in identifying and correcting for the left turn tendency with a rapid power increase, assists with proper handling of power, flaps, landing gear and pitch sequence. It also increases the ability to judge an approach, decide the quality of that approach and finally the willingness to do something about it, should it not be safely executed. This maneuver becomes even more important when there are obstacles to clear at the end of the runway, should you abort the approach due to gusting winds etc.

POWER OFF 180 DEGREE ACCURACY LANDING – Runway accidents account for the majority of GA accidents. This maneuver combines the skills for routine landings as well as the skills required for real power off emergencies. Trading airspeed and altitude for distance is one skill many pilots do poorly. Poor energy management accounts for mishaps such as overshooting base to final (leading to skids or slips) and crosswind landing accidents. After learning how to manage the airplanes energy your landings will improve significantly.

** If you are not familiar with these maneuvers it is strongly recommended that use an instructor until both of you are comfortable with their execution. After that, a safety pilot is still recommended.

** If one of your requirements remaining is Private Pilot Ground School, please consider the one being offered by WCFC. This is one of the most comprehensive courses available.

Reference: Aviation Safety Jan. 2004, WCFC Ground School

These Safety Tips are provided by the WCFC Safety Committee. They are intended to stimulate thought and discussion about flight safety and do not necessarily represent club policy nor are they intended to replace instruction from a qualified instructor.