Flight Maneuvers and Techniques

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Hello everyone and welcome back to WInterset Aviation’s Flight Blog. Today I want to talk a little about some maneuvers we pilots use in small aircraft for different reasons. A member of the Cessna 172 Pilot’s group I am in on facebook has inspired my topic for today. A gentleman had a post that read “Has anyone done a slip on C172 when high on approch???”. Since he claims to be a student pilot I thought this question to be a bit odd since it is a common maneuver for both cross wind landings as well as losing altitude fast. I will also talk about stall practice and give my tip of the week I use when flying Cessna’s to make sure that I am flying my downwind leg in the pattern at the proper distance.

Our first topic is the foreward slip maneuver. It is a great way to bleed off excess altitude without gaining excess airspeed or it can be used to bleed off excess airspeed. The foreward slip is a simple maneuver accomplished by deflecting the rudder either left or right using the rudder pedals and applying opposite aileron with the control yoke. When you apply the rudder and some bank you expose the side of the aircraft to the realitive wind and essentially use the side of the airplane as a big speed brake. I use this maneuver everytime I fly the skydivers in their Cessna 182. This allows me to descend from the jump altitude (12,000 feet most of the time) to the runway in a very very short amount of time without overspeeding the aircraft or having to reduce power to a level that would be dangerous (shock cooling the engine is the danger of reducing power too soon too fast). If you’re in the traffic pattern and you turn from base to final and find yourself too high or fast this can help. It is a double edge sword though. When you’re in the pattern getting ready for landing you generally are slow airspeed wise. You have to be careful that you don’t stall the aircraft when doing the foreward slip. The foreward slip is accomplished by “crossing” the controls. If you stall during this maneuver odds are you will enter a spin and depending on your altitude, you may not have enough room to recover. A spin is caused when one wing stalls either before, or more completely than the other wing. It’s scary to think about however the aircraft must enter a stall to a spin. If you don’t have alot of slip practice or uncomfortable with the foreward slip then my suggestion is get with your local flight instructor and practice. It is a very useful maneuver. I like to use the side slip for crosswind landings which is very similar to the foreward slip, just less control input. I prefer the slip to the crab maneuver.

My next topic is stalls since there is a remote danger of stalling when doing a slip. For those who don’t know, a stall is when the wings exceed there angle of attack and cannot produce enough lift to stay airborne. This happens when the air moving over the top of the wing seperates from the airfoil early instead of moving completely over it from leading edge to trailing edge. I have over 600 hours now and have done countless stalls however it is still a maneuver I practice often. I attended an AOPA safety seminar about night flying last night and the speaker who is a CFI keept saying something that is very true and important for pilots when it comes to any maneuver. “There is a difference between currency and proficency”. I like to stay proficent at power on and off stalls with the aircraft configured differantly. I practice power on and off stalls in the takeoff, cruise and landing configuration about once a month. I do this in our Cessna 172L alot on my way home from a flight. I practice this maneuver because my flaw has always been not watching my coordination. I talked about crossed controls earlier. I have a habit of not checking and making sure the “ball” on the turn coordinator is centered. If it’s not centered, your not coordinated. If your not coordinated, you spin when you stall. I like to practice my stalls with a bit of a crosswind so long as the wind is steady because here in Winterset, most days are crosswind days for takeoff and landing. I configure the flaps the way I want them, transition into slow flight and then go to idle on the power and increase back pressure until the nose breaks on a power off stall. Once the nose drops I recover. I’ll practice two or three and if I am happy with them then i’ll head back home. For power on stalls I configure the aircraft how I want it and then transition into slow flight. Once stable in slow flight I add power and increase back pressure until the aircraft stalls. I then recover. Again I do two or three until I am satisfied with my performance.

Well I hope everyone enjoyed this weeks blog. Below is a video on slips that I hope is helpful. I also have a video on stalls down below. If you liked this blog or have a topic you would like covered please feel free to leave a comment or send me an email. Until next time everyone, keep the greasy side down.

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