Polishing up for the checkride with my CFI: 180 degree power-off precision landings!

August 12, 2005  (6 days to the checkride on Aug 18th!)

Today John (my CFII) flew with me to see how my specialty take-off's and landings were looking for the upcoming portion of my checkride that I would be doing in the Piper Arrow III.  If you'll recall, I am doing the maneuvers in the Cessna 172 and the specialty landing demonstrations in the Piper Arrow III (since one has to demonstrate flight in a 'complex' aircraft for the Commercial Checkride, as well).  I told him that I'd like to do our session together where I demonstrate the maneuver and he could tell me after I performed it,  if the maneuver was okay or not and what (if anything was needed) to 'polish-up'.  I also told him that I wanted to do some focus on the 180 degree power-off precision landings as I felt I needed some 'polish' on technique on these.

In a 180 degree power-off precision landing (only required for the Commercial and CFI checkrides) on downwind, once one is abeam of the point that they announce they will land on/near (keep in mind the pilot must land within 200 feet of this pre-selected point) the power is reduced to idle and the plane is immediately pitched to best glide airspeed (which in a Piper Arrow III is 79 knots indicated airpeed).  Purely based on visual judgment the pilot begins the turn (remember power is at idle) to base and then decides whether he/she is too high or not to make the selected point on the runway.  If one has too much altitude at that point then one 'squares-off' the approach (meaning: one flies a base leg and then turns to final), if one has just enough altitude then the 180 degree turn is continued (making a 'horseshoe' kind of approach).  In this demonstration the landing gear is NOT lowered until making the field is assured.  From then on one can add drag devices like flaps if one is still to high and even do a slip to create more drag and lose altitude.

By the way what pilot's use to determine where they will land is the following visual 'illusion'.  The point where you will land will (in a stabilized approach) appear to occupy the same fixed position on the windscreen.  If one is going to overshoot this point, the point will appear to slowly move down the windscreen.  If one is going to undershoot the point it will appear to move up the windscreen.

Today's session went well.  John (and even myself) felt very good about my flying (as it related to the upcoming checkride) and I felt very good about picking up a few pointers on the 180 degree power-off precision landings.  After our flight session together we spent a couple of hours (at least) doing a mock oral exam to make sure I was up to speed on my responses.  I do need to review a few bits about some of the arrow systems a bit, but on the whole I was quite pleased (and John seemed to be, as well) with my overall performance.

Monday, I take John up in the Cessna 172 Skyhawk an show him the maneuvers I have been practicing on my own.  Unless I am really 'off' tomorrow, I think he'll like what he sees.  It did occur to me this morning that I hadn't practiced slow flight at all on my own - but I don't think it will be an issue (it's not that complicated to do).

Tuesday I will be flying in the Arrow III on my own and I will likely keep it a relatively short session (under an hour) and do a few of the specialty take-off's and landings, but mainly focus on getting any remaining 'kinks' out of my 180 degree power-off precision landings.

On Wednesday, I will likely just take whatever client calls I have for that day and then, if time allows, go to an early movie.  My experience with big tests generally has shown me that I do better if I don't study up to the last day before the test and just use the day before to unwind/relax and do something non-aviation related.

 Below graphic designed by: Jeff Bucchino,
"The Wizard of Draws" (copyright owner) http://www.wizardofdraws.com

Good Flights!

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