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Flying Lessons in an Ultra-light.

 After 5 ½ hours 21st December 2002 

After about 3 ½ hours I was actually taking off myself, under very close supervision of course. Now here I am with nearly 6 hours under my belt and the take-off has become a much less stressful event. What about my feet you may well ask if you read about my first lesson. Well this is the bad part, itís much less stressful but that is only with there having been so many take-offs you just get used to it. Being actually in control of the aircraft is quiet another thing entirely.  

In fact I am getting airborne with a slight backwards movement on the stick when the air speed reaches 50mph, but in control, no! The feet are not so much of a problem with take-offs as it all happens so quickly almost just leaving the pedals alone will do the job but then I have not encountered a strong side wind yet and that could set the cat among the pigeons.

 So, taking-off goes something like this. Putting the aircraft in the right place to begin with is all important. Right on the number, the runway number that is, at the very start of the runway. As the runway behind you is one of the three most useless things a pilot can have, ie, the altitude above him and the air in the fuel tank. So getting back to the runway, I am sitting there having completed the last checks on the card and all is agreed. We are ready to go - stick back a little, push in the throttle as far as it will go and in my case praying that I donít have to push those pedals much at all, at least not until we are safely in the air.  

There I am tearing down the runway with the engine screaming about 2 ½ feet in front of me. At this point I have to watch two things, first and most importantly, that I am going in a straight line directly along the runway, (the feet thing) then there is the air speed. Once reaching 50mph itís a slight pressure back and you are airborne. The next thing to take care of is the flaps. For take-offs and landings these are engaged at ½ on this type of aircraft, releasing the flaps with the lever on the floor between your legs. This is like a kick in the pants as the aircraft shoots forward violently more often than not, making the nose go up a little, well with me anyway.  

After this itís just a matter of maintaining course and keeping the air speed to 50mph, until I reach 500 feet which is the ceiling for ultra light aircraft - well, in Thailand anyway. Once at 500 feet itís time to push the stick slightly forward to level off and reduce the engine revs. to a cruising speed of about 4800rpm, giving about 70 to 80mph, air-speed.

 In the air I seem to be able to do most that has been asked of me so far. Slow flight, which I explained in one of the earlier chapters, turns, gaining height, losing height, donít seem to be a problem. Picking out a place to put down in the case of an emergency landing is beyond me at the moment but I really donít think that Jim expects me to be up to scratch on that yet. As it was, on my last failure on this he finally really explained the procedure.  

I have to remember the three Gís, Glide, Grass, and Gas. With the engine at idling speed I donít think anybody is crazy enough to really cut it at this point. You have first to set up your glide i.e., maintain 50mph air speed, the aircraft is coming down, you can do nothing about that so you need to be able to travel as far as possible without putting it into a stall.

 This comes to the next thing, Grass, i.e., where you are going to be when the aircraft meets the ground. The rule here is just about flat i.e., the best you can see and because you should be constantly looking for possible sites this may be just behind you. No trees lamp-posts telegraph poles etc,. Having picked your site you should now try to restart the engine. (This is the Gas Bit).  If this fails you had better hope that you got the first two right. OK so we donít actually land, doing so would more than likely rip the undercarriage off and severely damage the aircraft. Itís sufficient to know that you can put it down and walk away. With the end of this practice itís just a matter of engaging full throttle and regaining 500ft, altitude. 

My main trouble at the moment is in the pattern again I explained this in the second chapter. My turns seem to go right out of the window especially on turning to the down wind leg. I really donít know why this should be because itís the least stressful of all the turns made while flying the pattern, all I have to do here is maintain 500ft, and turn to run parallel to the runway. Easy? Yes. Yes, sure, but at this point I seem to concentrate on maintaining height and forget that dammed black ball.  

This is the indicator that tells you that you are making a graduated turn. If, as I do, you just step on the rudder then this will turn you but it will also send this ball way off to the side. The centrifugal force does this because you have not banked into the turn. If you just use the stick then you turn the aircraft on itís side but the ball will go to the other side of the scale with the force of gravity. You have to balance the two controls which I am not finding the easiest thing to do right now, while concentrating on maintaining height. Itís simply this. You need hours of practice, you need to be able to fly this thing by the seat of your pants, which I am a long way from doing. 

Landing, OK. I have done this with a great deal of help from Jim. Having made the approach turn from base leg you should be at 300ft, with the runway straight in front of you. This is the hard part for me, seemingly the dammed thing keeps moving all of itís own accord. I get it lined up according to me, then the wind throws me totally off course. Jim says itís me because there is no wind. Hmmm,

 Never mind itís only about 5 ½ hours yet and I guess it will come. When it comes to the final flare breaking the glide at about 3 to 5ft, above the runway I tend to over do it. I also tend to cut the throttle too much at this point making the landing heaver than necessary.  

The point being, as far as I can see, is to plant it on the ground before the wrong end of the runway comes up and the worst thing about this at this point is that you canít see the end of the runway because having broken your glide with the flar, the nose is slightly high so you can touch down on the main undercarriage. So more of this on Monday, letís hope I can do a little better then on the things that I have been taught.

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