Lesson 19 – Steep Turns and Spiral Dives

Coming off the back of an afternoon of formation flying, I was left wanting to get my pilots license completed more than ever! It will open the door to a stack of endorsements which I have in mind. To name a few, Instrument Flight Rating (IFR), night Visual Flight Rating (VFR), aerobatics, twin engine, retractible undercarriage and formation flying. In fact before all that I have the vision of flying from here upto and around the North West and back again. From here to Shark Bay, Coral Bay, Exmouth, Karrijini, Broome (bypassing Hedland of course), various stations up the Gibb, Kununurra, the Bungles, Darwin and Alice Springs on the way home.

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Anyway, before we eat the elephant, we have to eat its rear first. Today was steep turns. Adam was being a princess (claiming to be unwell), Wilson was “busy”, so I went up with Cameron. What a score. This guys is a flying machine. He doesn’t take any bollocks and is pretty much straight to the point. Why have you done you upwind checks at 200 feet, wait till your 300 (200 above the ground at Jandakot), on downwind “your flying too tight, maintain your distance from the runway and extend you leg”. Was great actually, he is so frickin passionate about flying…

Its been a while since I’ve left the relative safety of the airport having done the last god knows how many hours flying in a box pattern, so was good to head out. I was a little rusty on the departure procedures to the training area but struggle through with the odd prompt. Sweet, climbing out to 3500 feet, today was about steep turns. The training material suggested that 45 degrees was all that was required for PPL level, where 60 degree was for CPL. Should be easy.

It was. We did the 45 degree turns and Cameron was awesome. He demonstrated well and then provided great support when it was my turn. His enthusiasm was infectious and I was really getting into it. Half was through we headed out of the training area for the coast as there was a crazy biplane pilot doing aerobatics. He was oblivious to our radio calls and you could see he felt the 1920 skies were his… Out over Mandurah and northern beaches be continued our lesson. This time Cameron felt it was better to do 60 degree turns. Pulling one off with a little correction, he kept me going through to 720 degrees of turn. I was getting his enthusiasm and loving it. After doing the 60’s we changed to doing steep decending turns.

These turns are suited to dropping through gaps in the clouds and were no less fun than the powered turns. Brining the engine back to idle, starting the decent and pulling nicely into tight turns was a blast. Spiralling downwards was fun and at 60 degrees meant there was a good 2 g’s pushing against your butt. Then the fun began.

When doing steep turns it is all to easy to enter a spiral dive and build a level of speed that is structurally unsafe. So, lets do it and practice the techniques. So Cameron put the plane into a spiral dive, pulling a good 140 knots of speed and then said “you have control”. Yeah right, that is an ambit claim! Anyway, these are actually simple to recover from. Make sure you close off the power, pull the wings level, pull up the nose and re-apply power when your speed drops to a safe level. Easy. Great, now lets try it the other way 🙂 It was fun!

By this stage we had flown back over Rockingham and had the fantastic sights of Garden Island and Cockburn sound in front of us. It made for a nice flight back in over “boat yard” and into Jandakot. We were cleared straight into runway 06L as most of the other pilots had already called it a day. Was a great flight and got a great deal out of flying with yet another great instructor.

Bring on this Saturday as it only leaves emergency landings, performance circuits and the odd other thing before working towards my area solo 🙂   Study is progressing well toward my BAK exam, so bring it on!

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