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Solo Circuits and Turblence

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Solo Circuits and Turblence

Old 21st Jun 2019, 06:20
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Solo Circuits and Turblence

Hi all,
So I'm just into my solo time of training now... had a general fear of flying before I started my PPL which has calmed for sure since starting...

Earlier this week (after a month off) there was no wind and I had a decent day, did a few solo circuits and left feeling rather stoked.

Yesterday, however, the aircraft just kept bouncing around all over the place either from a relatively average amount of wind, or it being a warm afternoon. I got so flustered just forgot everything..horrible trimming, late radio calls, height overshoots, far too long downwind, crappy landings.... I was definitely not cleared to solo yesterday.

My instructor said i was just over controlling, and need to just get used to turbulence and let the aircraft fly itself through most of the bumps.

I'm sure everyone here has experience on the more bumpy days (although obviously not too bad or else we wouldn't have gone up). If it was stressful thing for you, did you just get more experience with it and learn that it's OK... ? Is it just something you "accept" does it really just become normal?

Ha, these probably should be rhetorical questions, but it would be nice to hear from those who have dealt with these emotions.

Last edited by onionabroad; 21st Jun 2019 at 06:44.
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Old 21st Jun 2019, 08:58
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Join Date: Jan 2005
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Don't worry too much about it - in fact look on the bright side ...

You experienced bumpy (thermic?) conditions, for the first time, in a "safe" environment - with an instructor next to you.
Far better that way than the first time being alone, as a low hours PPL.

I the same way you would not be expected to land the aeroplane unaided, until you have had some training/experience of handling in the flare and hold-off, why would you expect everything to go smoothly the first time you encounter bumpy conditions - where the aeroplane pitches up, and down, with no pilot input.
With a little experience you'll find, very quickly, that you know when a bump requires corrective inputs, and when the aeroplane will "sort it" without.

OC619
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Old 21st Jun 2019, 09:24
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Don't worry - practice makes perfect. The more you do the better you will get. Best wishes and good luck with your training.
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Old 21st Jun 2019, 10:04
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Ha thanks. I imagine just reassurance that it all comes with experience, as you've said.

Just found the BoldMethod article titled "How to Avoid over-controlling your plane" (in case there are others out there in their early stages) which seems to bring the point home that over controls can make things seem more turbulent/rough than they actually are.

..not something that I would have thought of.
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Old 21st Jun 2019, 11:00
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A tip that sometimes used to help my students: only correct (move the controls) for deviations that you can see. For example: wings not level, distance between nose and horizon has changed. At all other times: keep the controls steady. You will find that although you will feel the effect of turbulence, the number of deviations from your planned flight path will be less than before.

One aspect of flying in turbulence is that you may have to accept some deviations from your altitude or speed. Once you get more comfortable, you can work on adding corrections to stay closer to the planned numbers, but I wouldn't worry about that at this stage as corrections add another variable and may lead to overcontrolling. I would suggest a chat with your instructor about the error margins you can use for this at this point of your training. As you progress through training, these error margins will decrease to the margins that are acceptable during a PPL exam.

As for the emotional part, experience does help. I know that turbulence can be quite disconcerting at first but although it may not be a fun experience, building up time in bumpy conditions will, over time, allow your brain to become accustomed to it. You could ask your instructor if he would take you along on a flight on a very bumpy, windy day (within limits of course) so that you can experience this situation. It may help your mind to accept this as something the aircraft is able to deal with.

Once you have a license, you will have to find your own limit on what you find acceptable for you to fly in, but that will no doubt change as you build hours. During training, learning to deal with turbulence is part of the course as your instructor, and later on the examiner, will need to know that you are safe to operate the aircraft during less than ideal conditions.
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Old 21st Jun 2019, 15:14
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After 1200 hours, I still dislike turbulence but have learnt to cope with it. One thing I would say is that if you are uncomfortable/un settled on base leg don't be tempted to tighten up the turn on to finals,there be dragons that way. Far better to "go around" and give it another go.
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Old 21st Jun 2019, 18:02
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Not applicable to circuits, but in the cruise you can reduce bumpiness by slowing down.

So you can offer a queasy passenger the following choice:

"Would you like me to slow down? - it'll be less bumpy, but it'll take longer to get you back on the ground."

Whilst they're trying to decide which is the lesser of two evils this will, with a bit of luck, take their attention off feeling sick
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Old 22nd Jun 2019, 17:02
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I must admit I had the occasional bad day during circuit training, when nothing seemed to go right, especially if it was turbulent. My instructor demonstrated how stable the aircraft was, basically trimmed for level flight and very light touch of the controls, even with relatively big bumps, the aircraft would sort itself out. This helped a lot, as most of the 'turbulence' was actually me over-controlling.

As other's have mentioned, you will reach the stage where you'll get a feel for when the aircraft may need a gentle nudge or two.
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Old 22nd Jun 2019, 23:51
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I liken it to driving on a corrugated dirt road. The ride can be rough but just keep it pointed in the right direction, don't do anything sudden or radical, try to relax and go with the flow.
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Old 23rd Jun 2019, 05:55
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It's also worth remembering that, if properly trimmed, an aircraft 'likes' to fly unless disturbed by the pilot!! Another way of looking at what On Track and excrewingbod have said.
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Old 23rd Jun 2019, 07:42
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Join Date: Nov 2013
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Go and learn to fly a glider. Firsty no radio or engines to distract you. Secondly you will learn to feel the aeroplane in the atmosphere and understand what is happening.
Things like "boxing the wake" on aerotow and beautiful sideslips to pop the aircraft back down right on the takeoff point will show you what the aircraft can do. I understand that spins aren't allowed now in PPL - try some in a glider.
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Old 23rd Jun 2019, 16:59
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I understand that spins aren't allowed now in PPL
Not strictly true. They were removed from the ab initio syllabus several decades ago because it was killing too many instructors. Intentional spins are prohibited in many training aircraft types, but not all, so if you ask during your course, your instructor might well demonstrate one to you. There's nothing to stop anyone post-PPL doing spin training in a suitable aircraft with a suitably qualified instructor. I'd recommend an aerobatic trainer such as a Decathlon or Citabria because they can be properly developed in the spin. All UK SEP instructor courses demand the trainee instructor demonstrate a recovery from a spin during the test.
What IS in the syllabus and MUCH more relevant to PPL flying is recovery from the incipient stage. Most spin accidents happen very close to the ground where traditional recovery techniques are useless. It's much better to learn to recognise the symptoms of an approaching stall/spin and recover from that.
The nay-sayers back in 1982 who said taking the spin out of the PPL syllabus would result in wholesale carnage amongst pilots have been proved completely wrong. People continue to die from spin-related accidents, but invariably at heights from which recovery would have been impossible anyway.

TOO
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Old 24th Jun 2019, 16:57
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My instructor said i was just over controlling, and need to just get used to turbulence and let the aircraft fly itself through most of the bumps.
Well, as he was sitting next to you, then thatís most likely all it was.

When youíre some distance from the ground, does it matter if the aeroplane moves around a bit? Not really. Itís consistent trends that you need to keep an eye on, like climbing and descending significantly when you donít want to, or turning when you wanted to fly straight. Thereís an expression Iíve heard that describes people who can accurately control an aircraft without resorting to flailing away on the controls: low gain pilots. Precise, measured control inputs that achieve something other than just moving the control surfaces.

If itís turbulent, you just have to accept that the aircraft will deviate a bit from the plan every now-and-then but also be prepared to correct it back to where you want it in a smooth and controlled manner. Easier said than done! You can respond as fast as you can to every gust but it gives a rather unpleasant ride and actually achieves very little...
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Old 26th Jun 2019, 08:13
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Another tip that might help against overcontrolling: Don't hold the stick/yoke with two clenched fists, but with two or three fingers from one hand only. And, of course, make sure the aircraft is properly trimmed for the airspeed you want to achieve.
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Old 26th Jun 2019, 09:08
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Having read all this, I'm looking forward to the next flight. Definitely going to focus on doing as little as needed, and follow the idea that I want to fix the trends, not every deviation.
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Old 26th Jun 2019, 09:43
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Join Date: Aug 2015
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So far, my learning to fly is almost entirely about learning not to over-control! It helped me when someone on here pointed-out how 'sloppy' is the link between the control surface and the air. A twitch on the controls can achieve nothing unless by chance it reinforces a previous twitch or ongoing deviation, so you accentuate instability. Depending on airspeed, a control input lasting less than a few seconds, or responding to a deviation lasting less than a few seconds, is unlikely to be helpful.
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