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Food for thought. When I do a checkride, I often do a review of airspace. Class A, B, C and D are usually understood. The confusion comes in two areas: Class G and Class D after the tower goes home. My usual question is “what happens to Class D airspace when the tower goes home?” I usually get that it becomes Class G or Class E. Well, it’s a little bit of trick question. You don’t know until you look at the A/FD. Some airports revert to Class G (KBMG, for example). Others revert to Class E (KMKL). Most are class G but some ARE class E.
Why is this important? Because it changes your weather minimums! Before the tower opens and you flight visibility is less than 3, you can do 1 mile and clear of clouds IF the airspace is Class G (assuming daytime). IF it’s Class E airspace, you’ll either need an IFR OR a SVFR clearance, both of which need to be obtained from ATC.
The bottom line, is KNOW YOUR STUFF and don’t assume.

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Steep Turns

Steep turns: love ‘em or hate ‘em. If I want to do a quick assessment on a pilots skills, I have them do a steep turn. Normally a 360 degree turn @ 45 degrees back followed by an immediate opposite direction turn then roll out on original heading. In effect, a flat figure 8.
Steep turns are a complex maneuver in that we are looking for 7 specific things:
1. Altitude control
2. Bank control
3. Airspeed control
4. Heading awareness
5. Coordination
6. Consistency and smootheness
7. Diversion inside/outside the cockpit (N/A if a hooded maneuver)

When I did my MEI, the first thing the DPE asked for was a steep turn. I nailed it. The rest of the checkride was easy and lasted 35 minutes.

On EVERY 135 proficiency ride, I do steep turns.

My point is maneuvers like this (and S turns across a road) are normally only practiced in preparation for a exam (rating, license, flight review…). I suggest practice these several times a year. It will keep your stick and rudders sharp. 🙂

That beings said, Practice does NOT make perfect! Perfect practice makes perfect.

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Let’s talk stalls

Let’s talk stalls…. Virtually every checkride requires some type of stall series. That’s a good thing…except they are often routine and somewhat meaningless.

Let me give you a different twist.

I ALWAYS do approach to landing stalls with students/applicants in a left turn. Why? This is the classic setup for a stall/spin scenario. Let’s assume you are on the downwind for runway 18 and winds are 090@15. If you’re not crabbing into the wind to the right, you’ll fly closer to the runway. I call this “pinching the base”.

When you turn on base, you pick up 15 kt tailwind. If you have “pinched the base” and don’t anticipate the turn to final, you can easily see how you can overshoot the final approach course. I see this a LOT.

You’re on final, right of centerline with a 15 kt left crosswind.

You’re trying to get back to the final. You’re “dirty” with gear and flaps down, slow (perhaps Vref), cranking hard to get back to the centerline lest you do that embarrassing “go around”. You’re also giving up some vertical component of lift. Perfect scenario for stall spin setup.

This follows the FITS training protocol. Train in a way that is real life application. Stalls straight ahead are easily recoverable. In a left turn, adds a whole new complexity.

Make the training meaningful.

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