According to the schedule I’m now 2 lessons away from being able to fly a checkride for my Advanced Aircraft Control (AAC) aerobatic endorsement with Red Baron.
However it’s been almost 3 months since my last aerobatic flight and I was feeling a little rusty to say the least, so my instructor Matt and I agreed to go out for a consolidation lesson to see where the weak points were before jumping into the last 2 lessons on spinning.
On this flight though I made several mistakes, one of which was far more serious than any others (we’ll get to that) but each of which I felt were worthy of sharing here so I can learn from them and so I won’t ever make the same mistakes again.
We took VH-ZXY out to the training area and Matt instructed me to climb to 4,000′ and perform the aerobatic sequence I’ve been learning. I climbed to 4,000′, did a clearing steep turn, then went straight into a loop – aileron roll – wingover – steep turn.
Mistake #1: No HASELL checks. This was a biggie. I launched straight into the aero sequence without running through this pre-aerobatic checklist. So we climbed back up, and I made sure to confirm Height, Airframe, Security, Engine, Location, Lookout and then ran through the sequence for a second time.
Mistake #2: power control in the loop: When diving for the loop to get 135KTS airspeed I wasn’t reducing the power sufficiently allowing the engine to potentially overspeed. So we went over the process of “one cm at 120KTS, two cm at 130KTS then pull”.
After the aero sequence we tried a couple of falling leaf manoeuvres which were messy to say the least but a helpful reminder of the 60KTS airspeed I need to get down to before full backstick and rudder inputs.
Then Matt told me to pull the power and give myself an engine failure. Thankfully this part of the lesson went quite well and I managed to get through all of the checks and procedures and get us down to St Mary’s airstrip where we would have been able to land quite comfortably with full flap into the wind.
Finally, Matt gave me some unusual attitudes to recover from.
Mistake #3: power control AGAIN: with nose low I am not pulling the power back fast enough (or at all on one manoeuvre). So I have to remember for the Robin if we’re approaching 120KTS power off, once we’re back below 120KTS and climbing power on.
Then Matt gave me an inverted nose low attitude, handed over and said “recover”.
Mistake #4: pulling through from an inverted nose low attitude: Idiot! This was by far the most dangerous thing I’ve done in an aircraft and a good indication of my lack of recency – the last time I’d practised this was almost 9 months ago. Thankfully we had sufficient height and Matt was quick on the power control and we did recover, but not in the way I should have done – power off, roll level, pull out SLOWLY (as we could be doing 140KTS+ by that point).
I gingerly took us back to Bankstown for an uneventful landing and taxi back to the hangar for a debrief.
I’m back at Red Baron on Sunday hopefully to get into some spinning but I’m going to ask to do a few unusual attitude recoveries as well, especially a nose low inverted one so I can wipe the slate clean there.
This really helped drum into me the importance of maintaining recency with flying and how critical it is for us Private Pilots to regularly fly with instructors so mistakes don’t become habits.