“Please can I have some more…”

So this was going to be a post about the return visit for more twirlybatics – except that between having a proper edit of the video, and a chance to sit down and write, I found myself with a little engine contretemps back in the X’Air that required depositing poor Rhubarb down in the clover.

Harm to only aircraft not people but since the AAIB report form runs to considerably more pages to fill in, than I suspect the page count of the end report will be I’ll leave that particular bit of writing for another day – there’s a summary of affairs on a Flyer thread over here.

Once we have a cause and a ‘what next’ I’ll do something more detailed.

Meanwhile – back to stuff that actually managed to stay in the sky.

I had an afternoon slot this time, a 1 o’clock which slid to 2 and then 2:30 as the mist of the morning turned to low cloud, turned to higher cloud, turned to actual sunshine.

Once again the brief focussed on what I wanted from the trip (More hands on now that I might have capacity to take some of the mechanics in and do more than giggle in glee at the novelty). We planned to look at aileron rolls, barrel rolls and loops chiefly and then see what brain and stomach were before possibly looking at a fourth.

With a bit less of a frenetic pace at the field today and, after a firm mental word with myself about which way this engine turned compared to the little Rotax, I did the takeoff with Greeners following in case of mishaps or inadequately long legs.

We headed out in the opposite direction this – out towards the English south coast which would serve as a line feature.

4000’ feet was our target starting altitude with a base height of 2000’ – high enough to leave plenty of scope for error! HASELL checks and clearing turns to do – and clearing turns in an aerobatic machine it turns out are no wishy washing swerving and ogling – nope. Instead a sweeping wingover, with all the sky and all the ground laid out and (happily) empty for us to manoeuvre into.

Aileron rolls first up and I vaguely remembered the steps for this – nose up above the horizon, check forward, full stick to roll.

Watch the nose on Greeners’ attempt to mine! LOL

My nose burbled and bobbled around the horizon far far less definitely than the demo and I needed the occasional prompt to check forward and not to find myself still with back pressure on as we came round but the fourth was tidier that the first!

Things to do or not do next time…

  • Get the nose high enough before starting – something close to climbing attitude
  • Don’t forget to check forward so we don’t carry on drifting up
  • Full full stick
  • Take time to check not pulling by accident
  • Get wings level before pulling up

Barrel rolls to try next.

Any kid given a toy aeroplane swoops it around the living room in a series of barrel rolls but what exactly going on at each stage is rather more involved. A lot of things are changing at once and you can only see sky for half of them going by the previous day’s trip so quite how it is meant to come out in a semi organised manoeuvre I was waiting to hear! Briefing this on the ground the breakdown was to pick two references – one straight away and one off at 90 degrees in the direction of the intended roll. Then with these in mind – pitch to 60degrees nose up and roll towards that 90 degree ref – still pulling, aiming to be inverted by the time you were pointing at it, then rolling and pulling the rest of the way round looking again for the straight ahead reference by the time you were level again.

In practice it took my eyes rather a lot of time to accustom themselves to what the world looked like with the nose pitched up to 60. Both in this and in the wingovers in fact. I stared out, (and again when watching the video just now) trying to commit the visual references to memory.

60 degrees pitch is way up here…

Things to do or not do next time…

  • Get the nose high enough before starting – (it’s a theme!)
  • Roll fast enough
  • This time keep pulling!
  • Pick good references and try to find enough brain capacity to actually look for them a bit more deliberately!

It looks like a laundry list but there’s something particularly satisfying about how quickly you can start to pin down specific things to fix or pick out common threads (nose attitude, am I thinking consciously and deliberately about whether or not I have/need back pressure here).

There was a brief break in events for a victory flick after that particular bit of learning which set me back to giggling and then we went on to loops.

In a straight line ideally (erm… not always, not really as it turned out but…) so chiefly concerned with pitch and as we were carrying on all the way round, instead of an attitude the ‘how much to pull by’ was “to about 3 and a half g”. Then looking up and back for the horizon as we go through inverted, reducing back pressure over the top and then pulling through the other side looking up again for the horizon.

At this stage I was really only noticing if we were level at those horizon-visible points rather than having much spare to do anything about it but in theory one could adjust matters at that point!

First go was left wing low and I had a bit much g still on the back side of it while pulling out – enough to give us a little buffet.

Second was better, third was crooked, fourth was even more crooked chiefly because I rolled the wrong way to correct after accidentally putting in a bit of aileron on the pull. (“Roll left, left, the other left…”)

Things to do or not do next time…

  • Check above immediately before pulling up (and ditto the stall turns later)
  • Pull straight
  • Endeavour to remember left from right while upside down 😉 (This may take a while…)

Last manoeuvre of the day we only really started before my brain decided it was cooked. A stall turn. Began by establishing how much rudder my shorty legs actually reached with the current seating arrangements, and Greeners flew the demo with about that much.

I had a wobbly go but was clearly reaching capacity so we called it there and headed back.

I flew the approach, re-discovering, (as if I could have forgotten already!) how much more sensitive in pitch this lovely machine was than the little X’Air, with a rather balloony flare!

I have got to do more of this!

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