Monday, July 7, 2008

Lesson 7: Spins all by myself

Plane: Champ
Instructor: Dave
Route: 40I, Local
Weather: Scattered clouds and haze, 83 degrees, wind 210 degrees at 8 knots

Today I took an extended lunch and drove down to Waynesville to spend an hour in the Champ. It was warm and humid on the ground but the cool air was wonderful once we got above 3,000 feet - I would have stayed there all afternoon if I could have. Before heading out to the plane, Dave and I went over the second half of the Pre-Solo Written Exam that I finished as homework after Joe and I started on it last week.

Any apprehensiveness I still held towards spins disappeared over the holiday weekend. While they were completely new to me last lesson and the sensations take some getting used to, I actually was excited to get back in the air and do some more. So today I asked Dave if we could work on them a little bit and I got to do two of them completely on my own. We took off and departed the pattern to the East, climbing to 3,500 feet. Once there, I added carb heat and reduced the power to idle and brought the stick back all the way until we stalled. When you get to that stall, just kick in full rudder and the next thing you know you're pointed just about straight at the ground and rotating quickly. Then you kick in full opposite rudder to stop the rotation and pull the stick back to raise the nose and stop your descent, then increase the throttle to hold altitude. Pulling out of the dive is when you feel the most G's (about two) but it really isn't an extremely forceful maneuver.

I made one spin to the left, climbed back up to 3,500 feet, and then made one spin to the right. Each spin was only about one full rotation (called an Incipient Spin) and I lost about 500 feet in altitude each time. The sensation was different as the one in control of the aircraft, a little more subdued. There's a good chance that was because a) it was not my first time and I wasn't nervous and b) I was busy actually flying the airplane. Either way, I really enjoyed doing spins on my own. They're a hell of a lot of fun - seriously, I'm surprised it's not illegal to have so much fun. I could have spent the whole afternoon up there enjoying the cool temperatures and spinning all over the southern Ohio farmland. In the future, I'd like to try climbing up higher and practicing fully developed spins where you make more then one or two rotations.

For a better idea of what a spin looks like, check out these two videos...
YouTube: Outside View | Inside View

Unfortunately we only had time for those two spins so I flew back to the airport and practiced takeoffs and landings while flying the pattern. We had a very slight crosswind (nothing like what we had last lesson) so I had to use a minor Side Slip on final to keep us aligned with the runway. My first approach wasn't very good - I could tell I was fast but then I thought I would be alright and didn't use a Forward Slip to bleed off altitude and airspeed. Bad decision as we floated way down the runway and had to go around. Dave said he could see improvement over the next three landings as I better utilized the slips to bring us down smoothly. There were some thermals (rising air) on the Downwind leg of the pattern so I had to take reduce power somewhat earlier to keep the descent on target during the approach. Takeoffs are also starting to feel better and I think I actually managed some decent flying of the airplane off Terra Firma this afternoon. A great day to fly and a ton of fun in the air - this is the life!

Flight Track: Google Earth KMZ File
Today's Flight: 0.9 hours
Total Time: 9.0 hours


  1. Wow that's crazy. Congrats on the ability to scare the shit out of people on the ground. :)

    You've definitely passed me up. I only learned take offs and landings, and tried like 2 stalls. Then I puked. Hence, the forensic scientist was born. ;)

    Keep up the cool moves.

  2. Funny...not nearly as scary from the inside view as from the outside.

    It's funny, reading your exploiters makes me appreciate the art of flying , this coming from a person who gets sick just thinking about turbulence.

    Keep soaring Steve!

  3. Be Careful, you might end up a Aerobatic nut like me :) Just wait till we fly in the Pitts!


  4. Eric,

    I'd love to try it out at some point, but I do have a feeling I'm going to need a few more spins in the Champ before I'm up for real aerobatics. Me and G's still need to become better friends... :)