Flight Lesson #1: Attitudes and Movements
Saturday, June 6, 2009

Went for my first flight lesson at Montair Aviation last Thursday, May 28, 2009.

This first lesson concentrated on basic movement and attitudes (the angle of an aircraft in relation to the horizon).

Josh, my flight instructor, handled all the radio traffic. He had me do all the pre-flight inspections and go through all the pre-flight checklists.

After starting the engine, we got clearance to taxi down taxiway E (Echo) to Runway 25. Taxiing is something I really need to work on. Airplanes were not designed to move on the ground easily. They are meant to fly. Plus, you stear the aircraft on the ground using your feet, with the rudder pedals. That takes a little coordination!


Upon reaching Runway 25 where we had to hold short for three other aircraft to land and two ahead of us to take off. After that, we were cleared for takeoff. Once again, Josh had me throttle up to full power and steer the Cessna 172P down the runway. I pulled back gently on the column and after about 15 seconds or so, the plane took off.

We flew to a practice area over Pitt Meadows where Josh had me try different turns, climbs and descents. One of the most important lessons I learned was how to do a coordinated turn.

When you steer a car, you simply turn the steering wheel in the direction you want to turn. It's similar with an airplane but when you turn the yoke, it simply manipulates the ailerons (control surfaces on the wings) that turn the plane. Airplanes (especially single engine airplanes), however, have a tendency to want to turn left on their own. This due to the effects of a propeller on an airplane. So simply turning the control to the right, for example, the plane will shimmy a bit to the left before it turns right.

(On that note, airplane manufacturers take that into account when building airplanes so that they fly in a straight line as much as possible.)

With a coordinated turn, you include the rudder (the control surface on the tail) that is controlled with your feet. So if you do a right turn, you turn the control surface and press the right rudder pedal. The plane will make a proper turn to the right.

We practiced turns, climbs and descents then headed back to Boundary Bay Airport. This time Josh had me line up the plane for approach to Runway 25 and actually land it. I nearly shit my pants. That was scary as hell. I guess it gets easier with practice! He said it was a very good first landing.

That pretty much sums up lesson #1. Lesson #2 is Monday, June 8, 2009.

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