You have completed 3 1/2 hours dual training, you are in the circuit, you have been introduced to the stall, EFATO and the GA-

You’ve learned that not many pilots check Notams(notice none are ever displayed alongside the weather at the school), students rarely check the weather, welcome to the world of PPL amateur flying, mainly managed by the amateur, hobby instructor.

Youve been introduced to the checklist. A checklist can ‘prop you up’. You can for instance have on a checklist= OPEN DOOR AND GET INTO COCKPIT that’s an example of a checklist propping you up, telling you to do something that in this case is fairly obvious but as your experience grows a lot more things become faily obvous. For example checking the condition of each flight instrument, glass intact etc.

The value of a checklist is when it is used to ensure you have completed an action, in other words a double belts and braces check. as I pointed out to you don’t repeat a check if you have previously done it, just confirm that it’s been completed.

You’ve learned pretty quickly that the aircraft seems to have a mind of its own on the ground, working out if we need right or left rudder and/or a combination of brake to tighten a turn can at first be very exasperating but like everything it will come with practice and eventually become second nature. You may also agree that the aircraft is easier to handle in the air at the moment rather than on the ground, it of course built to fly, taxiing is a necessary compromise! Always consider that the aircraft has 3 odd little tea trolley wheels and it’s not that stable on the ground especially when the wind gets up!
Lets just go through those taxy checks

Before we move we need to get RT clearance and the controller needs to know where you are and what you want to do. Don’t be frightened of the RT, it’s just the same as ordering a take away on the phone-say who you are, where you are and what you want!

Before we move off-taxy lights on (check other lights too, nav and beacon). Full up elevator on the grass to take the weight off the nosewheel, cross changes of surface at 45 degrees.
Brake check-both sides as soon as possible. When in a clear area do instrument and full rudder defection check.
Think about wind consideration while taxying-look at the sock that’s what it’s there for, its not an advert for contraception!. Is the wind gusting, light and variable, left or right of runway etc..?

You can give the ‘take off brief’ during taxy.
Cross runways with care(quickly) but ensure both directions clear of traffic, use strobes if fitted.treat every runway as ‘LIVE’.

At the holding point.
Power checks-slipstream-wind consideration
Dont forget slow running check-not below 700rpm

then

VITAL ACTIONS use the check list

Check base and final clear, runway other direction clear, call, “READY FOR DEPARTURE”.

Entering runway, lights on, transponder on.

Line up check
CORRECT RUNWAY & CLEAR
DI/COMP CHECK
WIND DIRECTION CHECK.

Rolling check

Full power-CHECK (you have a tendancy to slam the throttle open sometimes-feed the power in briskly but smoothlly
Ts and Ps CHECK
ASI rising- CHECK

50 knots = rotate

Unstick = hold attitude accelerate to climb speed = 70 knots
Dont let a/c fly you near the ground! You select the attitude, not the a/c!
Right rudder in air to keep the BALL IN THE MIDDLE
Min hand off throttle height is 200 feet and that’s were we can do the after take off checks (so 200 feet for afters and 200 feet for stable on finals).

At 400 feet commence lookout in both directions ( you tend to be biased towards’ into circuit lookout’ which is common but think about it, the danger will probably come from out of circuit into circuit!).

At 500 feet turn into the circuit. If you are learning to fly by numbers you will always climb straight ahead and turn at 500 feet. If you are learning to fly with me and attempting to develop judgement based on airmanship, situational awareness and threat and error management you may deviate from straight ahead for noise or to ensure you have an optimum area for a landing should the engine stop. You may also consider climbing to 700 feet or even a 1000 feet to improve spacing from other aircraft.(the climb out is the best place to increase spacing due to low forward speed). Always consider though that dead side joiners may be at circuit height 90 degrees to you, and as always in the circuit, expect the unexpected and keep a very careful lookout. I’ve seen aircraft go downwind the wrong way for the wrong runway so always keep in the back of your mind that students can make BIG errors in the circuit especially visiting aircraft! An Aztec was cleared to land by EMA at EMA on Rwy 27  and landed on Rwy 24 at Birmingham by mistake, that surprised a few including Birmingham ATC!

Try to keep the circuit geometrically sound-if its square, keep it square-use the DI to assist but the Mark 1 eyeball is best! Square circuits are for girls but we can only fit ovals in when the bomber pilots are in the cafe!

Downwind = 2 items to do-you keep leaving carb air out after the pre landing check, the check finishes by putting the carb air to cold and that also tells you the check is complete. Big temptation to rest up downwind, dont! Plan ahead, review your last approach and landing and plan next one(situational awareness).

Base leg judgement- start thinking about selecting power according to distance out from runway. Use 3 values

1. No or little power change, perhaps 1900 -200 to get within flap limiting speed?

2. 1500 RPM

3. Close throttle

Min target height on final = 400 feet

Speed on base 75 kts

Base height with power speed with attitude(on final opposite)

Aim for continous 30 deg turn onto final-max bank angle = 40 degs

CONSIDER- The turn onto final can be the most critical point in the circuit. Distraction here could cause inattention to airspeed and a stall at this altude in the approach configuration could be very serious indeed.

Do not ever be fooled into thinking that your priority is to get the turn onto final correct:

YOUR PRIORITY ON THE APPROACH IS ALWAYS AIRSPEED because lack of it will kill you!

Or as I used to say to my students back in the day

CURSED ARE THOSE WHO LET THEIR AIRSPEED DECAY FOR THE GROUND WILL COME UP AND SMITE THEM DEAD

askcaptainjon in a letter to the corinthians flying club
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