Gaining Confidence

After the last lesson, we decided to try a 150 since it would be easier to stall without as much horsepower. Maybe it was the extra power of that supped up 152.

We made our way out to the airport and I tried to keep my nerves down. If I got nervous or thought too much about it, I’m sure my lesson would struggle.

This lesson was about steep turns and I was flying from the right seat and supposed to teach Jake as a private pilot steep turns. On the car ride, I showed him my PowerPoint on steep turns and briefed him as I would a student before the lesson.

Once we got in the air, we started working steep turns. It ended up more of me practicing commercial level steep turns instead of instructing private pilot steep turns. That’s fine and it was good practice. We went into me teaching him on slow flight, power on and off stalls. And there was no problem!

It may have been a mixture of things. The less horsepower which made it easier to stall and control for me. The seat is a bit higher in this Cessna so that helped. And one thing we talked about is faking confidence. “Fake it til you make it” which I’ve very good at in other situations. I’ve gotten as far as I have in both of my careers due to confidence and a lot of it is faking. I just applied it to my flying now.

I’m glad to have had a lesson that made me feel good afterwards. I did some landings and Jake had to get current as well. I love when he has to get current because that means I’m just along for the ride and really get to enjoy it without having to think.

I might fly this Cessna 150 more, but sadly the 152 is the IFR rated one. We’ll see how that turns out. Maybe just more confidence in the 150 before going back to the 152.

Lesson Time: 1.2 hours


Thanks for all the comments on the last post! Unfortunately, my next lesson didn’t go so well. I left the lesson feeling very discouraged.

The past couple of times, we’ve been flying the Cessna 152 with 150HP. I left the lesson feeling exhausted, crappy, and achy. I had fallen victim to the “death grip” on the yoke, which I don’t think will happen again my right arm and shoulder hurt for days afterwards! (My right arm since I’m learning to fly from the right seat too)

It was another lesson struggling with pull back hard enough to stall during power on stalls. And they were just the warm up. Within 15 minutes I was ready to call it quits and head back to the airport. Of course, Jake pushed me forward.

Slow flight was difficult again for me, but then slow flight with the foggles on was easier? I don’t really know how to explain that. Near the end of that time though I was getting exhausted from the concentrating. I was getting sloppy.The yawing of the airplane didn’t sit well with me and I had to pull the foggles off since I was getting disorientated. I thought it felt long, but it was only 0.2 in the logbook.

Was that the end though? Oh no! If I wasn’t feeling disorientated enough it was unusual attitude time with some accelerated stalls added on to the end. Unusual attitudes weren’t bad. They’ve always been something that hasn’t been too hard to figure out for myself. Accelerated stalls again aren’t something I really enjoy and as a factor of my death grip, it was getting hard for me to have the energy to pull back as needed for them.

Came in for a couple of landings and my approaches were all over the place, but the landings fine. I need to get back into stable approaches and not come in high or low and fix it after the fact.

After tying down the aircraft and walking back, Jake asked how I thought I had done. He knew I was discouraged and I thought I did awful. He said I didn’t but I responded that he seemed highly critical the entire lesson and it seemed I never did anything right.

We spent the next hour trying to figure out the issue. Was it the extra horsepower? Was my seat too low since I was uncomfortable with pitching high? Possibly was it Jake instructing me and it? We went through a lot of options and didn’t come to a conclusion.

It sucked to feel so discouraged and begin questioning flight training. I hope I can overcome this hurdle.

Lesson Time: 1.6 hours


Getting Back in the Swing

So what do all my blog posts seem to start out with recently? I’ve been bad about sharing! I’ve been able to get up in the air a couple times recently and haven’t written about it and I’m sorry!

I’m getting back to being VFR proficient since it’s been a bit. So we worked on power on and off stalls, slow flight, all the fun basics. It’s so good to be back flying (almost) regularly. What’s even more fun is switching back and forth between one of my favorite airplanes, Cessna 152 (duh) and getting more tailwheel time in a Decathlon.


Tailwheel and inverted time!

For those who have been reading my blog for awhile will remember during my initial PPL training I was kind of afraid of stalls. I could do them, but I didn’t enjoy them. Then I took to aerobatic training to help get over my fear. It helped, but getting back into a 152 I must be rusty just doing stalls and slow flight. I can make a plane loop and do a hammerhead just fine, but then if I’m rusty with stalls, I get nervous! It’s extremely frustrating.

The only way we found to break this is to just do stalls and slow flight over and over again. I’m now much more comfortable with slow flight – Jake has me make the stall horn sound while my other instructors didn’t enforce that as much. And power off stalls are no big deal.

I need improvement on power on stalls though. I need to make sure to be more firm with my control movements and make the stall happen quicker. I get nervous when the pitch it very high since I’m taking too long to stall the aircraft. This problem is worse in the Decathlon, which Jake likes to point out I have made loop so it shouldn’t be an issue. It’s something I need to work on more and find the root of my fear so I can overcome it.

More to come soon!

Left Turning Tendencies

I’ve been able to get back into the air recently and start reviewing old private pilot knowledge as I prepare for my Instrument Rating. Since it’s been awhile between the two, we’ve been reviewing lately. In the car to the airport, Jake asked me about left turning tendencies. I knew the basics, but forgot the names and how this will affect my flying.

So let’s review! What are left turning tendencies? And more importantly, why do they matter?


This is caused by the engine. The more power, the more torque. The engine is putting power in turning the propeller, but it also turns the airplane. Well, hold on, the airplane is MUCH heavier than the propeller so that’s why it doesn’t rotate like the propeller. From the cockpit perspective, the propeller turns clockwise. Therefore, the engine causes the fuselage to rotate counter-clockwise (bank to the left). Since the fuselage is lighter than the propeller, it only rolls slightly to the left and requires a little right aileron to fix it and the effects are only really felt at full power.

Torque is caused by engine power.


Propeller factor. This one I find hard to visualize. The downward swinging propeller blade takes a bigger “bite” out of the air in a nose high attitude. What does that even mean? It’s basically asymmetric thrust taking place. Yeah…still not helping. Okay, so a propeller is an airfoil. In a nose high attitude, the downward swinging blade of the propeller generates more lift (thrust) due to the higher angle of attack (of the blade, not necessarily the airplane). This means in that attitude, the right side of the propeller (downward swinging blade) generates more thrust than the left side (upward swinging blade) which causes the airplane to yaw to the left.


P-Factor is caused by high pitch.

Spiraling Slipstream


See how the blue arrow (i.e. the air) will come from the propeller and wrap around the airplane in a corkscrew fashion until it hits the tail? What would happen when a crosswind would hit the tail? You’d yaw in the opposite direction. It’s the same concept, air is hitting the tail, but it’s just from the propeller and not the wind. Due to the way majority of propellers rotate, it’ll be to the left. This only happens at slow speeds. At faster speeds the corkscrew (slipstream) is longer and also the airplane is moving faster, therefore moving out of the slipstream before it can hit the tail and cause the left turning tendency.

Experiment: Grab a friend, and on a piece of paper draw a spiral and have your friend pull the paper slowly. Then repeat drawing a spiral at the same speed but have your friend pull the paper faster. That’s how you can get a better visualization of what the spiraling slipstream looks like at slow and fast speeds.

Spiraling slipstream is caused by slow speed.

Right, right, I get it. But why does it matter?! Knowing your airplane and how it’s going to react when you have certain inputs is important. You can stay ahead of the airplane and not react to it and play catch up, but anticipate it.

When you takeoff, you’re at high power and high pitch and you start off slow. So what is a factor? Torque (power) and p-factor (pitch) and for a little bit before you gain more speed, spiraling slipstream (slow speed), so you’re going to have to use a good amount of right rudder  and a little right aileron on takeoff since you have two of these forces acting upon the airplane.

Slow flight involves all three of these. You’re at a high pitch (p-factor), you’re slow (spiraling slipstream), and you have a lot of power to hold altitude (torque). It’s the perfect storm and causes LOTS of right rudder. Then what if you have to turn right? You better give it all the right rudder you can along with a small bank to remain coordinated.

But wait, Caitlin, you’re missing one more! Okay, yes, there is one more left turning tendency.

Gyroscopic Precession

This is always mentioned during left turning tendencies and gets glossed over sometimes. And honestly, that’s not a HUGE deal, but it is important to know. Gyroscopic precession really only matters if you’re flying a tailwheel airplane and most pilots don’t train in those for their PPL nowadays.

Just due to the laws of physics, when you put a force on a spinning object it’ll deflect 90 degrees to the right. While the following is NOT correct, it helped me to think about it as a delay. You hit an object at the top (360) but by the time it reacts, that point is at the (090) mark. Speed of the spinning object has NOTHING to do with this, so that’s why that’s wrong, but it’s just what helped me remember it and understand it better.

When you takeoff a tailwheel airplane, the tailwheel will lift up before the front wheels. Lifting the tail puts a force on the top of the propeller. That force is deflecting 90 degrees and causing the airplane to yaw to the left.

Whew, and those are the four left turning tendencies! I hope this helps for a better understanding and application of them to take into your next flight!

Any questions or comments, feel free to leave a comment!

Studying Away

I finally got that push to motivate me to take the IRA written. the FAA rolling out new developments in the written exams on June 13th. I don’t want all the studying I’ve done so far go to waste, so I’m finally ramping up my studying!

I’m planning to take the written within the week, hopefully! I’ve identified my weak areas and plan to attack those today and tomorrow.

To study, I do use Sheppard Air and I have no shame in it. I used it for my ADX and got in the high 90s. The way the FAA written exams are currently don’t really test knowledge as well as they should. They’re probably as useful as the SAT, which I loathed.

Now, there is that age old argument that you need to actually know the knowledge on the written. Yes, some questions you do and the stuff I really do need to learn I’ll learn for the oral and practical.

It’s interesting to see how my knowledge is in different areas since Sheppard Air splits the learning up into different categories. Weather – I’m a rock star. Though I have to stay, on my daily basis of planning flights I don’t use half the charts they reference. There are many better tools out there now for weather prediction and observations, I hope they begin to incorporate them into training and the writtens. The IFR navigation is where I have to study and learn.

I’m in a unique situation where I do know a lot about some IFR knoweldge. I can read Jepp charts easily, for planning purposes I’m good. I know the Part 121 regulations and Operations Specifications of my airline in regards to alternate minimums and navigation very well. I need to transition it to Part 91 knowledge and know the differences. Actually flying the plan and reading the gauges….I need to learn too, but that’s what this is about!


Various studying positions

I hope to have some good news to share soon with you all and achieve one of my goals for this year!

Getting Back Up Again

Can you believe it’s been almost a year since I actually flew in the air? Heck, it’s been almost a year since I got to fly the sweet A320 sim! How on earth did that happen? Oh yeah….work, money, life.

It’s way to easy to not fly and it’s difficult to fly in many ways – you need extra money, time away from other commitments, and the weather to hold up. But finally we got around to flying!

13124862_3256390886067_266177424961656713_nJake and I joined a club in the area and he got checked out yesterday in one of their aircraft and we went flying together today. I’m a bit rusty and need to brush up so will schedule my check out later. Today he took me up to show me the area and the ridiculous amount of reporting points this tower has.

We talked to the front desk woman – who is really nice and helpful – and she was saying what a shock it is to fly here. I said I learned in the NY area so it shouldn’t be such a big shock. Well, actually, this place is so much more condensed than where I learned. Pattern altitude is only 800ft since Bravo airspace is at 1500ft above the field (on one side). There is noise abatement which keeps traffic to the east of the field. We saw a 747 landing at the main airport about 5 miles away when in the pattern, crazy!

Republic probably had about 2 reporting points maximum one on either side of the field. This airport has a sunken ship as a reporting point! A radio tower, two specific buildings, a highway, and I feel like I’m missing others. Today was about getting me up there and familiar with the area so that’s less time spent paying an instructor to do it.

13174123_3256391046071_5846264451366063034_nThe cool thing about the airplane we flew was it was the first Cessna 152 off the production line – you all know I’m obsessed with Cessna 152s so this was pretty cool to me. It was something on my bucket list that I didn’t even know was on it! It also had 150HP which is powerful for this little airplane! I can’t wait to get my hands on the controls more.

I have to say I’m a bit intimidated by the airspace and not having flown for so long but realize we have money and time to spend to get me ready again and I’m looking forward to the challenge.

We have a plan in place now to get me more ratings and endorsements this year so I’ll keep you updated! Yay!

My BFR is expired so will get current soon. Any suggestions on how you prepared for your BFR?



What is Bingo Fuel?

Today at work we were talking about standard phraseology for ATC. I’m not a fan of people who say “No Joy” or “Tallyho” It’s outdated and unless you’re an old military aviators, you may just be trying a bit hard to sound cool on the radio. I’m very much for standard phraseology because it just makes communication that much easier between all parties involved. It also prevents accidents due to miscommunication.

“Bingo Fuel” is a biggie that is commonly used and also caused a miscommunication with the (somewhat) recent emergency landing by Allegiant. Okay, first what is bingo fuel? That is what can be the issue. I’ve seen that “‘Bingo fuel’ is a military term meaning the pilot doesn’t have enough fuel for anything but returning to base and cannot continue on a mission.” But more commonly now, it’s referred to as the fuel number when reached the aircraft has to divert to an alternate and keep their 45 minutes of FAR required reserve on board. At least, that’s the way most people talk about it to me. Two totally different things, right?

Here’s the issue I think though, there is no good term to replace it. “Minimum fuel” has been used to replace it sometimes, but then you’re bordering on declaring a fuel emergency. If you’re using bingo fuel to refer to the latter of the two, that’s not really the case.

From speaking with my pilot resource (Jake), he said it’s quite common pilots will come up with two different numbers when calculating bingo fuel in a holding situation too. Ugh, that’s not good either! Obviously, they always pick the more conservative one just in case. As a dispatcher, when I have a plane in holding I’ll also calculate it for myself. Unfortunately, my snazzy flight planning software doesn’t do it for me. So it’s good ol’ pen and paper! The way I calculate “bingo fuel” is what the 45 minutes of reserve is plus the fuel it takes to get to the alternate plus the burn from their holding position to the airport (since what is they go missed and still need to divert once there?).

I don’t actually have a good solution, just something to think about for those in training. I recently had a captain declare a fuel emergency to ATC, but then he landed well over reserve fuel. Was he confused between fuel emergency and minimum fuel? Possibly, I’ll never know since he didn’t share this information with me. I only found out when the FAA showed up at my desk at work asking for paperwork. That was a fun day for me! But I get not sharing with me: aviate, navigate, communicate, if he thought it was an actual emergency I was last on the list. But if he did send me an ACARS we could have compared “bingo fuel” numbers!