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First Flight Questions

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First Flight Questions

Old 8th Apr 2007, 10:44
  #1 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: London
Age: 30
Posts: 13
First Flight Questions

After several years of flightsimming I finally got myself a proper "taster" lesson on my 18th birthday which I flew yesterday.
I did it with Cabair in a Grunman American AA-5B Tiger out of Cranfield and loved it, although as with many GA aircraft I'm not sure if it would pass its MOT were it a car.
However my first question relates to my height. I'm only 5'6" (about 1.7m) and while in the air using the rudder pedals were fine, on the ground where it sometimes needed full deflection for steering I had difficulty reaching with my short legs. The instructor mentioned the "Diamond Stars" had movable rudder pedals and so I might be able to use them more easily.
What are your opinions on this or does anyone have any other suggestions?

Also if I managed to find the money to do a full PPL (which could be tricky seeing as I'm going to Uni next year) would Cabair be recommendable? Can anyone recommend a better/cheaper way of doing it (without moving to America?)

Sorry if this has been asked (many times) before but a search didn't answer my questions.
Ali Strong
blista1989 is offline  
Old 8th Apr 2007, 11:24
  #2 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: The Burrow, N53:48:02 W1:48:57, The Tin Tent - EGBS, EGBO
Posts: 2,298
Having had a flight with a friend in his AA5 I have had to add that to the list of aircraft I cannot fly safely. I learned in a Cessna 152 and have done my conversion to a DA40TDi. For myself, this was the right way to do it as I find the DA40 very similar to the 152 to fly in that it is very responsive but the 152 is more versatile and forgiving. I still find it odd that I need to use flaps for a normal take off in the DA40 and find the requirement for full flap for landing much more restrictive than the 152. My preference would be to do it as I have done - 152 first (yes I know they are old and probably look a bit scruffy but so what?) but you have to fly them and, I as find, unlike the PA28 and Tomahawks they they are much more responsive and far less heavy on the controls. You can then do your conversion to the DA40 in a shorter period and probably save money which is always a bonus. I am only 1m55cms tall (or short).
Do your training in the UK, it may take a bit longer but you will learn how to cope with a lot of controlled airspace - they don't seem to have much of that(from what I have been told) in the USA. I have also met several PPLs who have come back here to do their ATPLs and convert their FAA licence to a UK one. They have all found difficulties in coping with the differences and have needed up to about 20 hours further training to get themselves up to a satisfactory standard. Not much cost saving there. If you then need to do some hour building I would suggest going to West Australia which has an excellent climate, the busiest GA airfield in Australia and a very good exchange rate.
DX Wombat is offline  
Old 8th Apr 2007, 11:53
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Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: in the country
Posts: 16
Short legs!

I've also flown the AA5 despite being short (ish) and having short (ish) legs. For me, a lumbar support cushion bought from the local chemist solved the problem completely by shifting me forward in the seat by a couple of inches- and incidentally made the seat much more comfortable, didn't move around, and was easy to carry around to put into different a/c if I encountered similar problems elsewhere. You don't have to have a back problem to find them useful!!
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Old 8th Apr 2007, 13:03
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Blah Blah Blah
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Malmesbury VRP
Age: 44
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I would not worry. I have flown god knows how many hours in an AA5B. It is a bit wierd with the pedals on the ground at first. It is because it is a castoring nose wheel. A mixture of power, breaking and pedal deflection is needed for accurate easy turning. It is just a nack you will eventualy get. You will find aircraft with a non castoring nose wheel much more responsive on the ground and will not use so much deflecyion, unless you want to do a tight turn on the ground.
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Old 8th Apr 2007, 14:04
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Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: Deepest Darkest
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If you're off to uni next year and going to be short of cash / spending it on 'better' things - alcohol, useless rubbish from the 1 shop, alcohol - the usual - then you could always apply for a GAPAN PPL scholarship. They're awarded every year to people who have a passion for flying but may not have the means to obtain a PPL on their own. The closing date for application this year is Tuesday, so if you do decide to apply it will probably have to be next year. There are a couple of rules and regs if you are awarded a scholarship - such as the length of time you have to complete the course in and such - but it's a means to an end with the result being you're able to fly.


You could always consider the University Air Squadron scheme run by the RAF as well - not easy to get in to, but once you're in they offer flying training, AT both home and abroad, plenty of sport and pretty much anything else you can think of. If you complete their syllabus you have enough hours for an NPPL - and shouldn't take you long to build up the last few hours (mostly solo X-country nav) once you leave uni.

Edit: Forgot to mention, there is a thread about the GAPAN scholarship lurking on this forum somewhere.
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Old 8th Apr 2007, 16:04
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Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Amsterdam
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If your problem is indeed with the castoring nosewheel (which means, in case you didn't know, that the nosewheel is free to rotate, and you have to steer the aircraft on the ground with differential braking at low speed, or through aerodynamic forces on the tail at higher speeds) then don't think it'll be solved by going to a Diamond Star. It's got a castoring nosewheel too.

If it's just a matter of not being able to reach far enough for full deflection, then before your next flight spend some time adjusting the seat and/or rudder pedals (one of them will be adjustable in any case) or experimenting with additional cushions, either under your bum or against your back. 1.7m is not extremely short and you should be able to adjust your seat so that you can reach and see everything, even without additional cushions.

Remember (or write down) the adjustments you made/cushions you used, because flying, particularly landing, is done by eyesight, mostly, and you've got to make sure that the picture from your seat is the same at every flight. In fact, some airliners have indicators in the cockpit which pilots use to adjust their seats, so that their eyes are exactly in the place the manufacturer intended.

And as far as the MOT is concerned... Planes that are used for flight training are checked every 50 hours flying. For a typical flying training plane, that's every few weeks. And such a 50-hour check is way more thorough than the MOT. Not to mention the 100, 1000, annual checks and the A-check you perform before the first flight in the morning.
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Old 9th Apr 2007, 12:35
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Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: UK
Posts: 20
Height....not a problem (I'm 5'2") . I does feel strange for the first few flights, I remember thinking a C152 was too big for me and while I still may struggle to refuel it, it's no problem to fly.

As for cost as everyone else has said...gapan, dream to fly, UAS etc.

Best of luck and enjoy

Cloud 99 is offline  
Old 9th Apr 2007, 13:38
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Join Date: Dec 2006
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Age: 32
Posts: 650
Congratulations on the first flight!

Height... don't worry. I am also 5'6", legs barely keep my bum off the ground, I'm having no problems just now (currently learning on Tomahawk). If you do have problems then a cushion may help, but don't worry.

Good luck if you do decide to go for the PPL

Captain Smithy is offline  
Old 28th Apr 2007, 12:34
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Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Europe
Posts: 82


I started flying on a FFA Bravo, a Swiss built two seat trainier, which is heavy, underpowered, and has nasty stall characteristics (1500ft loss on power off stall, with right wing drop).

Later on I moved to PA28, PA32, Bonanza, and DA40. In terms of stall caracteristics, the DA40 is by far the more forgiving. In fact I had no wing or nose drops on my stall practice... If there were no VSI or stall warning, it would be hard to detect it.

More on my experience with DA40, Diesel and G1000 on plasticflying. ******** .com (bloddy URL filter)
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Old 28th Apr 2007, 14:48
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Join Date: Sep 2001
Location: Toronto
Posts: 2,210
The AA-5B is a lovely airplane, but has no seat adjustment; so, Tortoise's suggestion of a lumbar seat cushion is the way to go.

You must be able to push the rudder pedals to the stop, or you may someday find yourself unable to get out of a spin if you are unable to push the rudder to the stop

Spins are prohibited in AA products by the way which means that you become test pilot after half a turn or is it one? Those more knowledgeable of the certification standards can be more precise.
RatherBeFlying is offline  

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