Today, the motto was “Fly it like you stole it”. This is a pretty apt motto for the introduction to my next challenge. Though I am not quite ready to begin training full time, today my instructor and I climbed back in the cockpit for an intro to commercial flying.
Now I know what you’re thinking because I always get this question, “So you want to fly airliners?” True, you need a commercial certificate in order to fly for the airlines, but you also need a lot more. The commercial certificate is a threshold that starts opening new doors in the aviation world including, but not limited to, becoming a flight instructor, ability to take money in order to fly someone or something, and of course the road to commercial airline pilot. The first and second of these are what I am more interested in achieving.
Getting paid to fly opens up the world of aviation to bigger airplanes with less hit to the wallet. Or so I hope! 😉
So back to the matter at hand. I fired off a text to my instructor asking if he would give me an introduction to commercial training. I wanted to get an idea of what’s ahead to help motivate me to get some more flight time in the books.
Once I arrived, I pre-flighted the aircraft and then we sat down to discuss some terminology and maneuvers that we would be attempting.
- Power-Off 180° Accuracy Approach and Landing
- Lazy Eights
- Eights on Pylons
- Emergency descents
- Slow flight
- Steep turns
- Accelerated stalls
Note: You can find the full ACS here – > ACS Standards for Commercial Pilot
Once we finished briefing, off to the airplane for some fun. Part of the ACS for commercial, is a repeat of some private pilot maneuvers, Shorts & Softs, steep turns, emergencies, etc. On the takeoff, I performed a soft field takeoff as a refresher.
We started with a demonstration of the Power-Off 180° Accuracy Approach and Landing. This involves pulling your throttle on downwind abeam your touchdown point and then maneuvering the aircraft so that you touch down at the spot on the runway selected. In my case, (and seems to be most others) I selected the 1000 ft marker. The key to this to turn base a little early and high, especially with a headwind on final. Then you can use some tools such as S-Turns and Slips in order to lose altitude if needed to fine tune your landing spot.
The first attempt was more of a demonstration by my instructor with me shadowing the controls. TBH, at this point I was uncomfortable with the banks at this low altitude. However, on the next attempt I took the controls and after doing it with some assistance became more comfortable. It will take further practice in different wind conditions for me to feel really good about it.
Next, we flew out to the practice area and demonstrated right and left steep turns. I practice these on my own every once and awhile, so I was comfortable with them.
I may go out of order here but next, I think, we performed an accelerated stall. I banked the aircraft into a steep turn and then pulled back hard until we heard the stall warning horn. It was pretty easy and we moved on quickly after that.
Moving on, we started the chandelle series. This involves a climbing 180 degree turn that slowly bleeds off airspeed until we are 180 degrees from our starting heading. If performed correctly, the stall warning should just start to sound as we finish. This is going to take some time and practice but I think I should be able to pick this one up pretty quickly.
After the chandelles, we moved into lazy 8’s. Lazy 8’s start off a lot like a chandelle except at the 45 degree point in your turn, you use the rudder to help the nose sort of just fall in the direction of the turn. Once you complete the 180, you perform the same maneuver the other direction. I think these are going to take me the most time to get figured out.
After doing several lazy 8’s we performed an emergency descent in order to lose altitude and then an engine out procedure towards a field that conveniently set up our next exercise, Eights on pylons.
Eights on Pylons were the most fun of the exercises. In an overly simplified explanation, this involves two points in which you perform a figure 8 between. This is similar to turns around a point but with other criteria involved. These maneuvers are also performed pretty low to the ground.
The setup is to enter like you’re on downwind and once the wing is to your first “Pylon”, bank and lock that pivot point in on the end of the wing. You need to manage throttle for your airspeed but you’re mostly pushing and pulling on the yoke in order to keep your pylon point on the center of the wing tip. If the pivot point moves to the front of the wing, push forward on the yoke, if it moves to the back of the wing, pull back on the yoke. Once you roll out you should be on downwind for the right turn around another pivot point.
We actually did this maneuver across 3 separate pairs of pylons. The second set I helped choose. I think this was the most fun maneuver out of entire flight.
After this, we flew back to TTA and performed one last Power-Off 180° Accuracy Approach and Landing. The last one felt pretty good and my instructor said I would have passed this maneuver if it was a flight test. I’m not so sure about that but it is definitely a confidence boost.
I felt really good about today’s intro into commercial training. I have a much better idea of what to expect. Next, I am going to plan the long commercial cross country (since I can do that on my own), Build some hours and start studying for the written.
Look for some more blog posts in the near future as I ramp up. Until then, Fly it like you stole it!