Discussion in 'General Science & Technology' started by hypewaders, Feb 22, 2004.
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hi i am interested to fly on planes.
fly On planes or fly planes ?
Back for a brief moment just to share my latest exploits. Completed my Basic Handling Test and subsequently moved onto Navigation (Both High and Low (250ft MSD)). Did my first Low Level Nav solo a couple of weeks ago now but it was probably one of the single most enjoyable experiences i have ever had. We set up our LL navs such that we must "hit" a target within plus or minus 15 seconds of the planned elapsed time. Its good fun to scream over the top of a road intersection, bridge or silo at 210kts 250ft. Good times
Since that day i've now moved onto Close formation and had my first form solo today. Good experience, soiled myself a few times and got terribly tired constantly holding the g during the wingovers but if there is anything out there that can beat LL navs... it would be this!
Hype: Do you have any experiences doing LL Navs or Close form? if so please share. Its such an exciting form of flying and someone with your experience would be missing out on alot if you havn't done it.
Enjoy the following three piccies which i managed to snap... well the third is actually my first circuit solo some time ago... thanks to my instructor sitting in the tower!
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spacemansteve: "my latest exploits..."
Great stuff, and what a sweet aircraft to learn in. Do keep us updated all you can.
"Hype: Do you have any experiences doing LL Navs or Close form? if so please share."
I love ski and float flying, which is best enjoyed at low level. Winding through the valleys of the Adirondack Mountains is one of my favorite day trips. I'm sure that there are many parallels with your mission planning- Keeping out of mortal and legal danger necessitates especially careful preflight planning for flying low. It also requires (as no doubt you're aware) vigilance and division of attention.
I do intensely enjoy formation flying. I had my formation introduction early, when I first learned to fly in a Navy flying club. As a glider pilot, I learned to keep position with the more skilled playful towpilots, who would take me into thermals. But I really got addicted while "demonstrating" Zlins- Pilots from various air forces sometimes evaluated the airplanes in formation, and I learned a lot riding along for insurance purposes.
"Its such an exciting form of flying and someone with your experience would be missing out on alot if you havn't done it."
So true. I occasionally teach formation when the opportunity arises, and I plan to formalize and promote a formation-flying course, because I enjoy it, and I believe that sport aviation is in dire need of some disciplined excitement. Formation flying is a fascinating dimension that too many pilots miss out on, because the mainstream civilian pilot training culture dismisses it as a risky. Aerobatics and low-level are similarly marginalized in the civilian world, which is unfurtunate on many levels- pilot proficiency and enthusiasm, and the health of the general aviation market are all negatively influenced by a head-in-the-sand mentality that considers particular aviator skill sets to be "elite" and "military" domains.
Formation flying opens up a whole new world of flying to those of us fortunate enough to experience it: The sharpening of motor skills in keeping position, the spatial awareness of learning joins and breaks, the teamwork of functioning as a flight team, all of this and more make formation training fine experience.
I'd like to share some stories, and discuss your own training more, spacemansteve, because I'm working on a syllabus. Gotta go right now...
spacemansteve, if you have a few minutes, would you critique and compare these brief formation course-outlines with what you've been through so far? Thanks.
APS Formation Training, Basic & Advanced
As far as I can make out the syllabus covers everything that I essentially will learn in 14 sorties. One of the main focuses for myself is station maintenance and changing whilst maneuvering under G. It is quite difficult to hold a standard position, say Echelon Left or Right, whilst doing wingovers up to 3G. So as long as the program places a large amount of emphasis on this aspect it will develop capable wingmen.
Ofcourse that isn't the only objective of the program as their does appear to be a focus on formation leadership aswell. Its all well and good to be a superior wingman but that doesn't account for much when lead can't get you home. For beginner pilots (which i assume this program is not exactly designed for), Formation leadership is the hardest part as the increased workload of having to think about wing causes many errors in their flying (I know, i marged a flight recently because of it, would have been a fail if i didn't save it with a good circuit). Ultimately you have to find the balance between developing a good wingman, but also developing a good lead.
Just a quick question however, i noticed circling rejoins as a part of the syllabus... does this mean Instrument approaches or airborne rejoins? Flying close formation in IMC is bloody hard! I had my first experience of it today whilst conducting 2 x TACAN approaches, first one as lead (not so hard) and the other as wing (freaking hard). In fact a flight that went out later in the afternoon had the unfortunate experience of going blind whilst IMC (Was watching it on approach radar whilst visiting ATC, could see leads head blow up with the intense pressure he came under). It is something i think you need to have a solid background in IF, in particular lead, as any errors in his flying can make wings life infinately harder.
I'm essentially assuming that its for the more experienced pilot out there, not your regular joe bloggs who just passed his PPL after only 50 hours. I say this because formation flying is quite hard that require alot of discipline. Overall i think it is a well structured syllabus and it is one that, if i had more flying experience/hours under my belt in a non military environment, i would not hesitiate to purchase.
Thanks for looking over that course outline, and for your observations, spacemansteve.
"wingovers up to 3G"
The pulls don't give me any trouble, but sometimes yawing over in zero-g gets me particularly focused. You know, that sudden sweat on the forehead, or (worse) the standing-hairs-on-the-back-of-the-neck annunciator- I don't like that one. I'm assuming that lead calls the maneuvers throughout your procedures. Wingovers bring to mind what I usually emphasize in the briefing about bad corners we get into when attempting any yawing maneuvers with dissimilar aircraft: Differing lateral response available can become an issue if the rates get too high. Smooth pulls by lead don't seem such a big deal for me on wing, especially with some lullaby prompting like "standby..., and, Pull". But weightlessly floating there, yawing to hold station still weirds me out, especially with airspeed slipping away, or with power getting near limits. I like feeling some firm sky to hold onto. Am I ever jealous of you, having a PT-6 with all those perfectly-rigged (no doubt) linkages keeping things perfectly governed, pulling you along, or even holding you back so smoothly, you lucky dog. You must try it with a piston engine and fixed propeller sometime.
In the civilian formations I've participated in, so long as Lead can smoothly fly just what was briefed, no worries- Keep the plan simple, and fly the plan. Obviously in civilian flying we can keep things simpler than is possible when there are tactical and aircraft-complexity issues.
"having to think about wing causes many errors in [Lead's] flying"
Brief the flight, fly the briefing (including rate limits- fly smoooooth): What else is there to think about?
We say "circling" rejoins, and also "overhead" rejoins (in the context of the airport pattern) just to differentiate from rejoining on a constant heading. Nothing tricky about it.
"going blind whilst IMC"
I'm not familiar with this- Did someone lose contact and break in the flight you described? I've never flown in anything so thick, that visibility became a problem from close formation- but then again, my only formation IMC has been intermittent- like moving up or down through a cloud layer. I'm sure that flying wing through a full instrument approach, or any standard instrument procedure (so long as Lead is situationally-aware and stabilized) wouldn't bother me. Am I missing something?
"I'm essentially assuming that its for the more experienced pilot out there, not your regular joe bloggs who just passed his PPL after only 50 hours."
I've introduced a few students to formation before they have earned PPLs, and with excellent results. When students that otherwise have high natural potential start to get sloppy, bored, or when they just hit a learning plateau, a taste of formation flying works wonders. Pilots naturally understand why formation flight demands discipline, accept it, and learn fast. I think that any good post-solo student (who has been taught good stick & rudder) can take to formation.
I do take precautions. Most importantly, thorough briefings. Lots of clear admonishment about what has and does go wrong with amatuers who get in over their heads (fatally) because of a too-casual approach. Provided structured training, carefully built on the safe practices that evolved over the past century, I believe that the many rewards far outweigh well-managed risks.
Aviation Performance Solutions (the company I linked) is one leading example. I believe that formation training can be made even more approachable, both financially and culturally- I'm envisioning using simple, affordable machines (Aeronca Champs or other basic trainers) along with a no-bullshit approach (militaristic ego-trip type personalities need not apply) to bring more aviators into the fold. I would like to see more flights of boredom-, complacency-, and elitism-fighters joining up in civilian circles. My own formation training experience has been varied and spread out over the years, because affordable, professional civilian formation training is very hard to find. Which is also an exciting opportunity, that I hope to pursue as an instructor.
It sometimes gets tiresome being gawked at arriving in formation with students and friends, as if we're doing something tremendously risky or difficult. Done right, I know that it needn't be either. I always get a kick out of flying formation, but I don't find it stressful or "super-pilot" anymore. I must admit, when tower controllers and military aircrews compliment our formation (I've gotten that upon occasion at military airfields) it does go to my head, just a little Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image! I want to get a flight school going that can take and reflect the glory: "Look- it's ________ coming in! Looks like fun! Let's sign up for a lesson!"
Anyway, your insights are really valuable to me spacemansteve. So thanks, and keep them coming when you can.
can you tell me anything about the passive ABS they used to use on aircraft brakes? links to resources would be helpful.
i can't seem to find much info online.
Not much- The only thing that comes to my mind in terms of passive anti-lock brake systems are the "weak" brake systems that were considered normal until recently. A lot of once-popular brake systems (Goodyear, and Goodrich for example) have been replaced on light aircraft (which is what I fly) with more powerful brake systems (Cleveland is the modern standard). With older brakes, you could mash them hard as you like, but they would not lock up, at least not with the full weight of the aircraft on the tires. Less "grabby" brakes still have an advantage in some tailwheel airplanes, to prevent inattentive or panicky pilots from putting the plane on its nose.
In the sort of flying I do, we avoid using wheel brakes for slowing the aircraft, except in emergencies or emergency training. In this segment of aviation we prefer simple, reliable and low-maintenance systems, and no ABS automation has caught on. It would take quite a sophisticated system to emulate what a good pilot does in modulating brake pressures, depending on multiple and dynamic factors like landing surface, speed, wheel weight, and flight control applications. Probably the most effective ABS system in aviation kicks in when instructors correct their students for any audible or olfactory complaint from the tires and brakes. Good pilots treat their wheels and brakes gently, so that the maximum rubber, rotor, pad, and heat-budget remains if we ever really need them.
Here's some background from a supplier, on the brake systems I'm familiar with as a pilot and mechanic.
i was hoping for something a little more in depth but thanks hypewaders.
i would really like to see some comparisons between passive and active ABS.
almost everything i find online is about active ABS, the sole exception being a chart dealing with stopping distances of a semi with passive ABS as compared with no ABS.
Technically speaking, passive ABS brakes don't exist.
Let's stop and consider that: The terms "active" and "passive" (in the context of safety-enhancing technologies) refer to accident prevention and mitigation, respectively. I realize how those terms sort of "brake down" in the context of stopping airplanes- once we've failed to stop and steer an aircraft and hit something we don't want to hit, we could say the ride is over. Passive systems (like passive restraints) then come into play. Way back in aviation before there were 3, 4, and 5-point harnesses, pilots had a really crude passive device called the Crash Pad. It wasn't where pilots liked to wind up sleeping- it was just a pad on the instrument panel for bashing your head into with less headache. Happily, passive systems have advanced since then. But there are no passive systems for preventing wheel lock-up during braking.
Any control system that adaptively modulates a control input is active by definition. The closest thing that I can imagine to a passive prevention of wheel lockup (again, this is not "passive" in strict terminology) is when peak braking torque available is something less than the peak torque available from tire traction- That is, brakes that are limited from or incapable of converting enough torque into heat, to stop tire rotation under conditions of strong traction. But such "weak" brakes cannot function as ABS under reduced traction- they can still lock up.
So I don't think you will find two systems to compare (in terms of active vs. passive ABS) because all ABS braking systems are active systems: Systems that modify brake response to input, depending on braking/traction conditions (by sensing wheel RPM and limiting wheel deceleration in real time). Any system that reduces caliper or stack pressure when the wheel spins down faster than desired is an active anti-lock system. To put it another way- Without ABS, it certainly takes an active (not passive) pilot to keep the wheels from locking up, and keep the airplane straight, when applying the brakes on a runway covered with patchy ice. There's just nothing passive about keeping those tires turning, and keeping maximum grip, under conditions of variable traction, while trying to slow them down as much as possible.
Once I did such a bad job of it, that I found myself spinning down a wintery runway like a frisbee. "Oh, Shit!" That episode required some active power applications to stay away from the snowbanks (goosing the throttle when the tail swung too near the runway edges, and employing "reverse thrust" while traveling backwards). It wasn't fun, but it was a vivid learning-experience for me about braking technique.
No probs hype! its good to discuss things with someone who is experienced (i mean outside my instructors... and there are lot who have a large amount of experience)
I'm assuming that lead calls the maneuvers throughout your procedures
We don't normally call out the maneuvers throughout the flight, we just do them and its wings job to stay in there. During form brief we discuss what kinda of exercises we will do in regards to the workup (station maintenance in wingovers) but we never go into any real depth because of the unwritten rule "Its wings job to stay there". My main problem isn't so much staying on plane or in line when doing said maneuvers, but more matching the AoB during the roll. This puts me off plane and line but getting back there is no problem. Sometimes it gets hairy but safety is never a problem because self preservation kicks in when you get too close to lead... Combat form however is another story. 700ft seperation and following lead in a pseudo dog fight situation is probably the best fun you can have (The wingovers, loops, barrell rolls, derry turns etc etc)
Am I ever jealous of you, having a PT-6
Haha, i must admit that its an absolute dream to use. The Electronic Limiting Unit makes our lives alot easier. Not having to monitor the engine limits of over torquing, over temping etc etc gives us alot more time to focus on the flying, especially during rapid and high PCL movements. The engine is probably the most reliable ever made.
What else is there to think about
At this stage of the game with the limited hours i have and the little time we have to perfect many aspects of our flying, many of us (the guys on my course) find that flying itself takes up most if not all of our brainspace. So when it comes to having to think about wing (Approach configuration, placing him on the correct side for wind, etc etc) we find it quite difficult. To be honest i think its all in the mind. The fact that wing is there shouldn't change any aspect of our flying but unfortunately, it does. However, we have a form test after 14 sorties and you have to be good at it by then, This obviously means that it becomes easier as you get more experience.
We say "circling" rejoins, and also "overhead" rejoins
Ah i understand now. Thanks for clearing this up
I'm not familiar with this- Did someone lose contact and break in the flight you described
Essentially, whilst flying an instrument approach and in IMC, wing went blind on lead. We have standard procedures for circumstances like this which includes which aircraft does what and turns where, and leads duties in setting up a height split to ensure seperation. I've been in rather thick cloud where at one stage i could only see leads nav light and no other references. That is scary because even though lead may be stable, i'm not too sure about myself as he was my reference. Lucky for me it only lasted for about half a second and after that, it cleared up enough for me to make out my references and maintain my position.
As you alluded to, stable lead is the key in all maneuvering. This is most definately the case in IMC, especially prolonged periods of it. When i mentioned it in my previous post i was purely basing it off my experience and the experience of the two guys who went blind the other day.
I've introduced a few students to formation before they have earned PPLs, and with excellent results
This is good to hear and i completely agree with you. I suppose i didn't think about it when i was reading the syllabus. Formation flying is so much fun and requires an incredibly large amount of discipline and a professional urge. Using it as a means to motivate talented pilots in training is a great tool to keep said pilots interested and wanting more. When i mentioned my concerns with teaching this to new pilots it was purely a generalisation aimed towards people who are not so talented
I always get a kick out of flying formation...military aircrews compliment our formation ...
As mentioned above, i don't think i've done anything cooler in my life than flying formation, it is probably the most exciting thing i've ever done. I look forward to the day (Which isn't that far away actually) when i'm flying a Split-RV UTC ToT Nav and being tested with simulated emergencies which will no doubt make me a better captain.
Its always good to see a civilian formation as it is something that obviously doesn't happen alot (not in my neck of the woods anyway). I commend GA pilots who give it a go because although i'm forced to do it as part of a syllabus in order to get my wings, It is something they don't have to do at all. And having the motivation to do it and see it through to the end although there is no reward at the end other than the personal satisfaction (and maybe a few more job prospects), just demonstrates a persons self discipline, professionalism and talent
Y'know spaceman- Geese do it with little-bitty brains- and their briefings are just a bunch of monotonous honking. So how hard does it really have to be?
I know we evolved rather differently, but I feel that there's something innately within us, that keeps us right-in-step when we re-discover the buried instinct to just relax and fly. That's something I love about formation- in exuberant, respectful spite of the fear of getting tangled up, it's really only natural (and supernatural) flying together.
I feel much more amazing kinship with a fellow pilot when we've got it Together- Not in the same airplane, but part of the same flight. It's a magical telepathy. I revel in the mutual trust and complete confidence (when it reaches that sublime level) a freedom to impulsively switch from formation to tail-chase, and back again- without ever an instant's fear of either of us doing anything dangerously stupid, because we know each other. I Know What You're Thinking. No closing faster than we can handle, and no distraction from flying with one mind when we decide.
That's really flying- and it's astounding to realize that most pilots never get to experience that expansive, dynamic, but intimate, quiet place. It's fun posting these thoughts with you, because we both know that we both have way more fun up there than mortals could ever deserve.
/grin, nod & hard break
The weekend before last, I very much enjoyed some formation skimming through the mist 3 feet above the glassy upper Hudson River in the very early morning. We soared through passes, and circled mile-high peaks. There were huge eagles (they seem half as big as the plane, when they're close- and they Look You In The Eye), and we maintained respectful body-language collision-avoidance communication. We had alot of formation-flying traffic, flights of hundreds and more in the late-migrating bird squadrons, of nearly every species you can name. Touched down in several South Adirondack lakes, each with its own dramatic setting and personality. I flirted with the different water surfaces drumming and thumping and swishing over our hulls. Felt a little awkward in sitting-duck mode, sailing backwards toward the surrounding wilderness, standing on the float, flipping the prop. Shit- maybe a touch more prime... (flip) ok a little less throtte- pocka-whuumph-pockavroooooooom WOOOHOOO!
I looked at the water and read it, like any sailing sailor has for centuries, getting far more information than most airmen normally do, about the air swirling over and around the imminent launch. Doors, seat belts, water-rudders up, put that beer down, Gas, Flaps, Trim, Engine vitals, all clear, Here We Go: I did what any prisoner of an isolated place might dream of- I carved my liberating wake on a that confined lake pond, swooshing my fractal water-ramps all across the magical shimmering forest-mirror and made the mystic jump to Anywhere, water streaming off our keels as we become something more, wake-vortex marking the center of our new world, with high, empty, all-knowing peaks watching us from every horizon, and above them that eternally beckoning blue world-washing ocean of air grants us breath, and lift, and life beyond this wall of rocks and pines, now flashing underneath us.
I wish I could describe it (trying to learn how to IRL). We had calm crystal-clear air and unusually warm temperature for the late season. We had old seaplanes and no commitments (at least for the weekend). A time to really fly free in beauty, like in our best dreams.
I've been earning my Seaplane Instructor Rating, while participating in the local floats-to-wheels/skis bushplane roundup, which means planes to ferry: Piloting them with steely, professional eyes to the gentle gallows where our sea birds become snow birds (and for reverse-metamorphosis in the Spring).
With good friends, the more-the-merrier is an understatement, doing formation takeoffs and landings in a Super Cub (I was paired with a Cub Coupe, with nose-art depicting a very tired Daffy Duck flapping along with tongue and feet dragging in the slipstream). We cavorted over and through astoundingly dramatic and uninhabited (human-wise) mountains and streams, like intelligent amphibian bird-men, exploring a gorgeous new world that we realize nobody sees it, and touches -and goes- like we do. We invade the quiet places with these planes, but the part of ourselves we always leave behind in the most beautiful places telegraphs the flattening of the last ripples of our wake, and the distant fading thrum of our passing back into the "inhabited" world.
Moments in life, when we're caught up in awe and bliss beyond all expectations. All you can say is "Wow", at first. When I think about the weekend-before-last, I'm still just going "wow!".
I don't have time to describe or even remember these wonder days in detail here. Instead I must go now and witness a wintery sunset over the Catskills: Scattered layers with snow and half the sky all in neon is the forecast- I have the task of giving an ICC (Instrument Competency Check) this evening. Somebody's gotta do it.
Hey all, just got back from a deployment up north. The aim of which was to focus on formation flying and just to experience something different from Pearce and Gin Gin and the CTAF procedures that go with it.
Whilst up there I passed my form test. So as of last week i'm "proficient" in both wing and lead aspects of form to the standard required for passing my course. You can imagine how freaking happy I am over that. We're just getting back into GF for our Advanced Handling Test run up.. A series of Dual/Solo sorties focusing on developing captaincy and emergency handling skills.
Did a straight in approach today after a simulated bird strike (on the canopy). Part of our boldface actions for this emergency is to lower the seat as far as it will go. Subsequently (and due to my short height) I really struggled to look over the instrument coaming. Probably one of the most uncomfortable things i've done in the PC9. Another focus is on advanced aerobatics such that at the end of the course i should be able to do Loops, Barrel Rolls, Aileron Rolls, Slow Rolls, Stall Turns, Vertical Rolls, Cuban 8's, Lazy 8's, Vertical 8's, Slow Loops, Max Rate Turns, Manuevering on the buffet and Derry Turns... To a base height and in a sequence.
So like the name suggests its the advanced handling of the aircraft aspect that is the main focus.
I was actually up there today practising my stall turns and I had one of those "wow" moments... I thought to myself, i can't believe i'm getting paid to do this when there are people out there who are willing to pay large sums of money to experience this... Its a great feeling
Congrats Steve, both on Form passing, and on keeping your appreciation for the privilege of gaining such fantastic flying experience in service. Soak it all in, but don't let it all go to your head.
I had to look up the Derry Turn- a new term for me (although I suppose I've bumbled through a few unknowingly, just goofing around). I learned more about John Derry too (DH test pilot) who had quite a pilot's life.
I had a minor birdstrike on approach this Fall, no damage (to my plane, that is). Every migration season I really worry about it, especially at night. A former Chief Pilot of mine took a goose through the windshield at 180 knots, and it nearly killed him- but he hunkered down as you describe, and landed alright.
There are so many situations where forward vision can be compromised- I remember a couple of uneasy approaches to landing with ice, and once oil obscuring forward vision.
Now that I've gained experience in some types that are rather "blind" on landing (old biplanes and such) it's interesting how really we do get acclimated to using lateral ques in the flare and rollout, and how they really become just as accurate, in terms of height and centerline awareness. It is so intimidating at first, until we discover that our brains are actually well evolved for walking or landing with only peripheral vision. Discovering you can land precisely without any view forward is valuable for all sorts of situations.
Stay sharp, have fun, and do keep us posted Steve- advanced aerobatics is going to be fantastic. Be prepared for pronounced fatigue of the face- you'll be doing a lot of intense grinning.
"Stay sharp, have fun..."
Hype-o-crit. I wasn't so sharp yesterday, which could have spoiled our fun.
We had climbed out over a wintery layer of lake-effect clouds, for a suitably clear and off-airways patch of sky for spin training. I allowed the student to botch the recovery, and we wound up careening down through our billowy "hard deck". I took over as we entered the clouds, and we immediately picked up a shocking amount of ice, which I also should have anticipated, but didn't. The soggy clouds we get around here in early winter always pack a wallop of ice in their tops. There was plenty of room (4,000' ceiling) below, but it was a bad show. Pitot blockage, tumbled gyros (AI and HI), windshield iced over, etc on our clumsy way on down in a marginally-controlled descent into the clear (needle, ball, and earspeed). I momentarily considered continuing the spin on down through, to limit our icing exposure- but at the same time I was dealing with iced wings, and a near overspeed, by the sound and feel of it. Airspeed was stuck on 80 knots (lying) and the Attitude indicator had precessed 90 degrees in roll. So I went from complacency to focus (fear even) in a very short time. Shithead.
I had a long talk with the student -and an even longer one with myself- about the vital importance of establishing and staying within maneuvering limits.
Have fun, but stay sharp.
Well, I'm packing up for a weekend flying seaplanes. That's right, I'm flying various old-fashioned seaplanes all weekend. Life is good.
I'll tell stories, if anyone is curious, when I get back.
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