Flying Training

Lesson 1: Trial Instructional Flight and Effects of Controls 1

Sunday 23 October 2005 at 2.30pm with Kerry Scott in Citabria VH-RRW

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When I woke up this morning and looked outside it seemed like a fine day for flying. So I called Curtis Aviation at Camden, where I'd had a chat with Niall a month or so ago, and booked a flight for 2.30pm. I rolled up early, met Niall, Brian and Kerry, and after a quick theory lesson on the effects of the controls we were off.

Taxiing was tricky (Kerry describes the Citabria as 'like a shopping trolley') but once in the air it was a different matter. We explored the effect of each flying control individually and together, and demonstrated some things I'd never even suspected, such as the effect of the propeller slipstream at different speeds (it pushes against the left side of the aircraft, so tends to push the nose to the left at higher than average speeds). Kerry showed that at low speeds all controls (ailerons, elevators and rudder) were sluggish, but in a climb with power on, the rudder and elevator were responsive (because they're in the slipstream) but the ailerons were still slow (because of the lower airspeed).

Best of all, because the Citabria is fully aerobatic, I flew a loop! Following Kerry's instructions, and from an altitude of about 4,000ft, I pushed the nose down till we reached 120 knots, then pulled the stick hard back, looked out the left window to see the wing intersect the horizon, and then looked up to see the ground appear from behind us. Magic!

The whole flight was around Camden and the Blue Mountains, and the air was beautifully clear, so we could see a sharp horizon at all points of the compass, from Sydney and the Pacific Ocean to the Blue Mountains stretching off to the distance.

There were a few surprises for me on the flight, but probably the biggest was how slowly we came in to land. The approach was at something like 65 knots and I'm sure we were doing less than 40 when Kerry pulled the stick back and dropped neatly onto the threshold of the runway. It's pretty reassuring to know that the plane is still controllable at this speed.

So, lesson 2 next week. Till then, I have some light reading - the Flying Training Manual, and the Citabria Pilot's Operating Manual. I also have to undergo a security check - a sign of the times.


No, I didn't take a camera up with me (there wouldn't have been any time to use it!) but here's all we needed:

(Click thumbnails to enlarge)

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The plane (VH-RRW)
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The instructor (Kerry)
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..and me