Monday, August 09, 2004

Piper Cub Lesson #4 (Spencer)

For background on my 2011 tail wheel lessons in a Citabria, notes from one of my 2004 lessons with the same instructor in his Piper Cub. I have a strong sense of deja vu as I read these 2004 notes! I've forgotten a lot in seven years, and I still make some of the same (re)learning mistakes. I will eventually post more of these 2004 Cub notes. (Actually posted August 5, 2011)

Much better lesson today – I'm still "behind the airplane" but getting the hang of the rudder pedals and control on the ground is starting to seem possible.  It was yet another a gorgeous morning with winds a bit lighter than Sunday (ORH ATIS said 280 at 10 kts, so right crosswind for 19 at Spencer) and clear skies.  I again handled the pre-flight and also played with the trim wheel to determine its range, about 12-13 turns, about 6 each way from the center (crank has no stops, it keeps turning when you reach the end of the range on each end).  Ed checked and added some oil and also drained fuel to check before we taxied over to the gas pump to fill up (he recycles the fuel sample into his lawn mower – he's a math teacher, BTW).

Feet – Better but still needing reminders to hold enough right rudder on full power climb and to "lead with my feet" on some turns.  I controlled the airplane myself on takeoff runs and landing roll-out and did better with each landing and takeoff, starting with a couple of big swerves on the first landing at ORH (love that wide runway 29!).  SMALL, EARLY corrections!!!

SA and direction in the air – Better but still drifting off the runway heading on takeoff for the left traffic pattern at ORH.  There was a decent west wind (280 at 9 or 10) so I needed to adjust for this in the pattern and did after prompts the first time.  Pattern leg lengths and turns were not very consistent and I didn't get up to 2000 feet every time (more like 1800-1900 but that's not too bad for now – the Cub climbs slow and there was a headwind on 29 so I should have extended the "upwind" – once I did a 45 to the left earlier than normal (usually turn left around 1600 feet) because of a departing Cessna on position and hold behind me).

Sight picture on takeoff and approach – better on this, more aware of how much horizon I need to see, and my speed in the pattern was better too, even when reducing to 1500 rpm abeam the numbers (CARB HEAT!) and establishing 70 mph glide with NOSE UP trim (seems to be about 3 cranks if I got trimmed for level before the power reduction – I usually crank in some nose up on climb out to try to stick to the 60-65 mph climb attitude).  I didn't get slow, though I usually did descend too fast and had to add power (getting back the ability to tell when I'm high or low on base, though Ed asked for "1/2 inch of power" on the first landing).

Related to sight picture is the "lean left and look" technique which is needed to see ahead of you from the Cub's back seat.  Need to SIT UP STRAIGHT AND BACK for this to get as much range as possible (headset keeps you about 2 inches from the window).  DON'T TRY TO LOOK RIGHT TOO.  You use this technique on the initial roll for takeoff when you add a little power to get rolling and see if you are straight, then SMOOTH full power while continuing to monitor line-up (and steer with small rudder inputs) through the left corner of the windshield for a few seconds until you can push a little forward stick to raise the tail.  Then visibility improves and you can look over the nose for your steering cues.  This technique applies in reverse on landing – once you start to pull back to slow your descent and assume the 3-point full-stall landing orientation, you lose visibility over the nose and again LEAN LEFT AND LOOK.

Mistakes and lessons – What I can remember anyway…

(1) FLY THE AIRPLANE OR HAND OFF IF DISTRACTED!  I tried to help out by changing the channel on the radio from ORH tower (120.5) to 60M CTAF (123.0) after Ed's frequency change call, but I didn't know how (2-3-0-0 is the answer, the leading 1 is assumed).  I fiddled around with it while looking back and up and let the airplane get into an unintended bank!
(2) WIND CORRECTION – need to review the elevator and aileron positions for taxiing and for takeoff/landing rolls with crosswinds.  On one takeoff at ORH, the left wing dipped and I didn't know what that was (I thought I "kissed the ground" with a wheel but apparently nothing actually touched).
(3) RADIO CALLS – Need to start to take these over from Ed, review radio operations for frequencies etc. and review the calls he made, especially to Worcester Tower (pretty simple really).  Listen to ATIS (126.55, maybe on ground before takeoff, depends on time up).  On 120.5, "Worcester tower, Cub 88122."  ("Go ahead" or something.) "We are out of Spencer, west of the airport with information India, set up for a left downwind, would like to practice some stop and go's" ("Stop and go approved, enter left downwind, make left closed traffic, report midfield each time"), "Enter left downwind, left closed traffic, report midfield, Cub 88122."

More notes TBD on this lesson… I just received The Compleat Taildragger Pilot from Sporty's Pilot Shop – looks really good.

1.0 hours dual in Piper Cub at 60M