Today was the first flight of practice teaching that wasn’t really about me being checkout out as a right seat pilot. My instructor said to pick two lessons and i could practice teaching them. Stupid me showed up ready to teach slow flight and steep turns. When I told him he said, “Going right after the hard stuff, eh?” He then suggested level flight and level turns. Basics of flight kind of stuff. This totally makes more sense from the aspect of getting comfortable to teach and the material that I am teaching. And will more analog my first student. I guess the lesson here is, I still have a lot to learn and learn I shall.
We went through the startup checklist and I’m becoming more comfortable speaking through each step. I’m still trying to build my script on autopilot checks and my safety spiel. It’s funny, because you go through all of these things in your head when you’re normally flying but then when you have to verbalize in a competent way, it comes out all backwards and sideways. However, I’m getting better.
I talk through the takeoff, though sucking at my precision. We climb and head out to the practice area. I explain that we will start to level off about 50 feet before reaching our altitude of 3000ft. My instructor then asks why? I muddle through an answer of performance of the aircraft. He adds, 1/10th the climb rate. I write that down. I start to teach straight and level flight, with attention to the outside view. Teaching to keep the gap between the glare shield and the horizon consistent. Reminding that 90% of the time should be focused outside the cockpit.
Next, I introduce level turns. I first launch into an explanation of need to use the rudder to stay coordinated in the turns. I then demonstrate what happens as we turn with no rudder so they can see the nose turn the opposite direction slightly before moving in the direction of the turn. I demonstrate both left and right turns. I then showed the proper rudder control in the turn so they can see how the nose flows smoothly into the turn. My instructor then says “Me me, let me try”. He then proceeds to push the rudder too early and hard when turnings and said, “Whoa that was weird, what happened?” I said talked about how he pushed the rudder too hard and too quickly as he entered the turn and entered a skid. I then said we will brief the concept of skids/slips on the ground. I did say it is important to have proper rudder control in order to keep the aircraft coordinated at all times. After this I coached him on how to do standard rate turns with rudder coordination. We did 360’s to the left and right.
After we finished the level flight concepts, I then began to teach constant speed descents and climbs. First we started out with the constant speed descent. I explained that in order to keep a constant speed, we would slowly pull the power and not change the pitch. The the airplane is trimmed for (pitched) for a particular airspeed and removing power would cause a descent and the airspeed would stay relatively the same. I explained relatively because the power change would cause the pitch/speed wobble up and down of our target airspeed until it settles back and that we can help dampen the oscillations by small pitch corrections. I proved that using solely the throttle would allow us to descend at a constant speed. I next performed the exercise again but with a climb, increasing the throttle. I added the caveat that during a climb, that because of the angle of attach and the high RPMS, we would need to add right rudder, just as on initial takeoff climb, to stay coordinated.
Next I tackled slowing down on a descent. So changing our speed and altitude. I then spoke about how we change reduce speed and remain at the same altitude will be a coordination between the throttle and the pitch. I reiterated that if we just change the throttle, we’ll descend but stay at the same airspeed. So I suggested we change airspeed and stay at the same altitude then once we reach our new target descent airspeed, we would pull more throttle and descend at the new airspeed. So I said to reduce throttle slowly and hold back pressure to keep the altitude the same. Once we reached the target speed I said then trim out the pressure, while holding the pitch to maintain the airspeed. As we did that, we noticed that we were starting to descend. So I said, we are now descending at our new target airspeed and if we want to descend faster, we just pull back on the throttle a bit more. If we want to descend slower, we increase the throttle just as we did in steady airspeed descents and climbs earlier.
As a new teacher this was already a lot. So we headed back to the airfield and I spoke about entry patterns and the need to get the current AWOS to figure out which runway we should land on. As we entered the pattern I talked through each step, altitude, rpm’s. At the abeam point, 1500 rpm, 10 degrees of flaps, pitch for 70kt descent. Turn Base, decision point, are we high/low. If low shallow the descent, add some throttle, if high, add 20 degrees flaps keep airspeed at 70. As we turn final, I try to repeat (still trying to solidify),
“Ailerons for Drift, Rudder for alignment, pitch for airspeed, throttle for altitude”. All while saying, short final we’re looking for 65, round out, eyes down the runway, hold, don’t let it land, hold hold hold. I’m struggling here because in the right seat I can land but still not super comfortable. So part of my brain processing is still there. I’m trying to verbalize everything to look for etc. We went up one more time around the patter and I repeated. Both landings were…. meh. First a little too fast, ballooned, the second a little slow, stall warning as we crossed the threshold. Embarrassing to be honest. However, I did manage to land both straight with no side loading and I didn’t lean to the left as we touched down.. So I am making progress.
Overall, it was a good lesson and if anything, show’s me how much I still have to learn. I imagine that will be true even after this check ride because a good pilot is always learning new things. And the saying, “You really learn how to fly once you begin to teach it” seems like a very true thing.