This lesson was a really cool one. We started off by making the decision whether or not we would even go up. The winds were 10KTS and gusting at 20KTS. Yigal asked if I wanted to do it, of course I said yes. If I ever want to land at Block Island, I would have to be consistent with cross wind landings. We got up and did a few touch and goes. Since the wind was pulling us to the right of the downwind leg, I had to use the rudder pretty liberally to maintain my heading. On the third takeoff and turn to crosswind, Yigal mentioned that I wasn’t using my rudder enough. The ball in the turn coordinator was not centered. I kind of hinted that it was good, but he wanted to really plant the idea in my head of how important the rudder use was. He said that it may save my life in certain situations. I wasn’t quite sure what he was talking about…things have been pretty good up to that point.
Well, he wanted to show me what he was talking about. He told me to climb to 5,000 feet. I headed out of the pattern and climbed to that altitude. He indicated that he wanted to show me what can happen when you takeoff and climb with an airplane without proper use of the rudder. A spin can occur. Of course, he asked me if I wanted to do the maneuver and I said yes…after a bit of hesitation. The maneuver is not required by the FAA, but it really is something that should be covered. Yigal performed the first maneuver. He pulled the yoke all the way to him for a power-on stall with no use of the rudder. The plane naturally pulled to the left and the nose pitched down for a spin. We made about one revolution and he pulled back to recover. He wanted me to do the next one. I was kind of apprehensive before we did the first one, but once it was done, I loved the feeling. I pulled back for a power-on stall and right at that critical point, the plane pitched down and to the left for a spin. We spun about twice and I pulled back and used the right rudder to recover. I could really feel the g-force as I pulled back to maintain altitude. What an awesome feeling. Now I know why these guys get hooked on acrobatic airplane maneuvers.
So, now I knew what could happen without use of the rudder during a power-on stall. Next, we performed a power-on stall with the use of the right rudder. The plane pitched up, maintained its direction and pitched down perfectly straight. Lesson learned. The reason this is critical, is because it only takes, on average, 300FT to recover from a stall, but 1,200FT to recover from a spin. If any of these things happen right after takeoff, every foot counts.
We headed back to the airport, entered the pattern and did a few more pretty decent touch and goes. I am getting much better at landing in these conditions.
I really liked this lesson and really like how smooth the air gets at higher altitudes. It is sooo peaceful.
PS – I found a great resource that you can get involved in yourself. They are the Sporty’s Safety Quizzes. Give ’em a shot and see how you do.