Flying Training

Lesson 48: GFPT

Wednesday 8 August 2007, 11.00am in Citabria MIU. Instructor: Craig Marshall.

Weather: TBA

After the last three lessons during which I felt completely in control of the aeroplane, this flight put my skills on display. I hadn't flown with Craig before, and I hadn't flown this particular aircraft either. Like WKM it's fully instrumented, but it's older and still has the original wooden-sparred wings, rather than the metal spars of current Citabrias (so a full spin recovery was not on the agenda today).

We took off from runway 24 (and it was by no means my most beautiful take-off) and climbed to 1300 feet where I levelled out until clear of the control zone. As per previous flights, I aimed for a point midway between Mayfield and Bringelly to keep clear of inbound aircraft, and once past the 3nm boundary climbed to 3500 feet. I also tuned the single-channel radio to Sydney Radar's frequency (124.55) and at this point remembered to set the transponder to 'Alt' (which reports your altitude to the radar operator). Remembering Matthew's advice I mentioned to Craig that I should really have done this before take-off.

Once over open country north of Mayfield, Craig asked me to make a level turn to the left, then to the right. Although the turn co-ordinator was not working, at least the ball helped me co-ordinate the turns. After two turns each way, he asked me to make a steep turn to the left. I checked oil temperature and pressure, increased the throttle, rolled on about 60° of bank and made a nice 360° turn. So far so good. The turn to the right, though, wasn't so good - I gained about 200 feet during the turn and Craig asked me to repeat it. The second one was better. After another steep turn to left and right, rolling out on the original heading, we moved onto stalls.

First came stalls in straight and level flight. I carried out the HASELL checks (which would have been appropriate before the steep turns), then pulled carby heat to hot, throttled back and kept the nose on a point on the horizon using rudder. Unlike WKM, MIU showed no tendency to drop a wing, just nodded down before I recovered with stick forward, throttle up and carby heat to cold. I don't believe I lost more than 50 feet in the recovery.

After a couple more straight and level stalls (I followed Jim's practice and turned left 90° onto a new heading before each one) it was time for stalls from a climbing turn. I set the throttle to 2100 rpm and pulled the nose back into a climb as I rolled left. I confess that as I felt it stall I initiated the recovery too soon, so we didn't get the expected wing drop, but Craig was having none of this. "Just hold it a little further into the stall," he instructed, and this time we experienced the full effect of the aircraft rolling abruptly out of the turn as the nose dropped. We did a third before Craig was satisfied.

We were now close to the northern boundary of the training area and I felt Craig pull the throttle back as he said, "You've had an engine failure." I lowered the nose as the speed dropped to 60 knots, trimmed and looked over the nose to see the private landing ground where I expected it, and turned towards it. It was obvious I was going to reach it easily, so I was able to set up a base leg. I looked around for indications of wind, but there wasn't much in the way of smoke and ripples to indicate any significant wind. Time for the engine checks - CFMOST (yes, the throttle was the problem, but we continued with the exercise) - plus a passenger briefing and a simulated Mayday call. By this time we were approaching the turn onto final. I knew there were powerlines to the west of the strip, and there they were, but I was deliberately high so as to keep well clear. In fact I was too high, so I had to sideslip (I already had full flap, but there's no limitation on sideslipping with full flap in a Citabria). I mentioned that on a solo I wouldn't be anything like that close to the ground, but Craig had me hold my approach until he was convinced (I presume) that I would actually be able to put it down on the strip.

As I climbed out, retracting flap in stages, Craig asked me to set course to the west, and passed me the plastic hood for the instrument part of the exam (which at this point I'd actually forgotten about). This covered 360° turns in both directions, climbing, descending straight, and climbing and descending turns. I kept the instrument scan going, and although the unserviceable turn co-ordinator meant I couldn't do precise rate 1 turns, I kept them at a constant shallow angle of 15° using the AI. No problems here.

We were now close to Mayfield and it was time to return to Camden for circuits. I tuned the radio to 125.10 to get the AWIS, checked the altimeter settings and then once headed towards Camden (thanks Jim), tuned to 120.10 to make an inbound call.