Thursday, October 25, 2007
Today was a bit different from before as we flew out of my instructors home airport up in Arlington. (KAWO) The weather today was absolutly perfect, a little chilly, and perfectly clear all around the airport.
We had a bit of a late start due to an air leak in the tail wheel. We had to stop mid-taxiway as the tail wheel was riding on the rims! Ouch! About an hour later we had replaced the wheel and were back on our way over to the fuel pumps to takeoff.
We didn't really have a major plan of action for this flight since I haddn't been up in a while. Although, he did introduce to the fun world of the half -Cuban. One which is much more challenging than I was anticipating. Finding that 45* downline is rather interesting and make that 1/2 roll to level can also prove troublesom. I did many of them, maybe around 5 or 6 I'd guess. Between them I would practice 2-pt rolls and inverted flight to get accustomed to the roll I that is required on the downside of the half cuban.
Along with that I also did my favorite maneuver a bunch of times, the inside and outside Humpty bump! Boy is that fun! I'd have to say, of the two variations, my favorite is definitely the outside humpty.
One thing I really didn't notice until after I landed was how comfortable I was with the airplane on this flight. I didn't feel like I was "flying my instructors plane" any more but maneuverd about the sky as if it were my own. If I needed to take a good look at the ground beneath me for reference I just would pitch the aircraft up and roll it to the side to have a look beneath me. I was consistantly over the points I wanted to be over and kept a very good eye out for traffic. Dispite the fact I may not have executed the maneuvers how was hoping, I still felt as though the flight was many steps forward with regard to my feeling of comfort and confidence in the aircraft itself. Also I made it a point to strap myself in a little tighter than I have in the past. This time when I would roll inverted I no longer felt myself raise off the seat. Slightly uncomfortable, but once I got airborne I really didn't notice.
I recently purchased (recent as in last night) a digital video camera that mounts to a helmet/headset that I will take up with me for my next flight. This should prove to be quite fun and hopefully enable me to learn more during post-flight briefings! Plus it'd just be awesome to have a video from MY perspective while doing this fun stuff! :) The camera is due to arrive this Wednesday and I'll try to go flying on Thursday (weather permitting) to test it out!
Anyway, I know it has been a terribly long time since my last post, but there really hasn't been a lot going on!
Saturday, September 22, 2007
Well, today I had my second flight! And boy was it fun! We reviewed the maneuvers we did on the first flight (loop, spins, aileron roll, and inverted flight) then added a few more: Slow Roll, 2-pt roll, Immelman, and Inside/Outside Humpty-Bump.
The slow roll really has a deceiving name. Speed has nothing to do with the maneuver as it still requires full stick deflection and maximum roll rate. The aileron roll actually traces a corkscrew through the sky, where the slow roll is supposed to be axial. This means the airplane is supposed to maintain constant altitude and heading throughout the maneuver, rotating only along a single axis (longitudinal). The challenge is that it requires precise coordination between all flight controls. Throughout the maneuver your feet are moving constantly to adjust to the rapidly changing roll attitude, and the stick adjusts to keep the nose on the horizon while inverted. It is somewhat disorienting at first as your body gets slammed to the left, then straight up out of the seat, then right, then you settle back down in your seat at the end. (for a roll to the left, of course) It can leave you a little confused at the end. Well, I should say that I could see how that would be possible. It didn't confuse me but I'm a roller coaster junkie and I can't get thrown around enough!
Execution: Start this maneuver at the same speed as the aileron roll, 120 mph. Then simply apply full aileron deflection in the direction you want to roll (for this example it will be a roll to the left). As you move the stick you actually want a little bit of left rudder, but as soon as you've reached the stop start feeding in right rudder. As your wings approach the 90 degree point you'll be feeding in gradually more "top" rudder to maintain attitude and altitude. But beware, too much right rudder and your roll rate will quickly decrease! It is quite noticeable as it is almost as if someone put the brakes on your roll rate. Due to adverse yaw you will find you don't need very much right rudder... much less than the later portion of the maneuver. At the 90 degree bank point you should reach maximum rudder required for the roll then begin to gradually release this pressure on the right pedal as you continue on to inverted. As you pass 90 degrees of bank now you need to start feeding in forward stick. You really need a lot of forward stick for this maneuver, much more than what you may think you need. As you pass the 180 degree mark you'll want to make sure to keep in a good bit of forward stick to help maintain altitude for the maneuver and also begin to add in "top" rudder (left now). When you are at the 270 degree point your rudder input should be at its maximum necessary to maintain attitude and altitude and begin to decrease it once beyond 270 degree point. Again, you will need more left rudder in this maneuver than right. If you have difficulties maintaining altitude/attitude on this maneuver it is most likely due to the inverted portion and beyond. It's a good idea to practice 2 pt. rolls and inverted flight to get a solid picture of where the nose needs to be in relation to the horizon. For the Decathlon there is a very significant difference between where the horizon is in the windscreen for upright and inverted flight.
The biggest problem I was having with this maneuver was putting in the correct amount of right rudder (I always had a lead foot on it and the roll rate would decrease) along with too little forward stick for the inverted portions. Another problem some people experience is relaxing the roll rate. It is important that you remember to keep that stick all the way to the left or right depending upon the direction of course.
The Immelman is simply a half-loop followed immediately by a slow roll to upright. It's quite challenging as you end the maneuver upright only slightly above stall speed. The pull up to the top of the loop really slows the plane down a lot. We start this one at 160mph and ends right on the 55mph mark. I've always been curious as to what the difference is between the immelman and just a half loop. The loop and roll portion of the Immelman is designed to be one fluid maneuver. There is to be no horizontal hesitation between finishing the looping portion and initiating the rolling portion. With the half loop you are supposed to have a hesitation in the inverted position before you initiate the 1/2 roll to upright.
Execution: Initiating this maneuver is the same as the loop except with about 10 extra mph on the airspeed at the beginning. You begin with an abrupt pull (around 4 G's) to raise the nose above the horizon. Just like the loop you look out the front until the horizon disappears behind the instrument panel then shift your scan to the left wingtip. Keep watching out the left window until you reach approximately 45 degrees nose high inverted. Then you begin to look out the top of the aircraft at the horizon as you simultaneously begin a 1/2 slow roll to upright. You want to start the roll at this point because the airplane is flying extremely slow and it takes a lot of energy to swing the airplane around 180 degrees without sinking out of the top. For this left hand roll you will need nearly full left rudder to keep that nose from dropping below the horizon and you'll also have to work that elevator as well to keep the nose moving in the same plane. Once all is said and done and the wings are level the aircraft will be just on the verge of stall. When I did these the first times (and actually did it correctly I might add) the airspeed indicator was showing 60 mph as soon as the wings were level again. From here it is important that you keep that nose up so you do not descend. It's similar in principle to a chandelle because your pitch attitude will be quite high as you accelerate.
The only problems I had with this were due to the timing of that roll and knowing how much rudder I needed. Here you need to start the roll well before you would think it should be started.
The Humpty-Bump is almost as fun to say as it is to fly! It is a vertical maneuver where you perform a 1/4 loop to vertical, hesitate a few brief moments, then abruptly apply aft stick and ride it around until you perform 1/2 of a loop so the nose is pointed straight down again. Since the airplane was going vertical the speed drops very quickly and the actual rotation part of the maneuver is just on the edge of stall. The top is not really a high-g maneuver... probably just about 3 or so, but it's sure fun to see that horizon come around so fast! The recovery at the end is another significant 1/4 loop pull to level. On this maneuver the judges are not looking for constant radius on the 1/4 loops. But they are looking for constant radius 1/2 loop over the top.
The other version of the humpty has you push the nose over the top instead of pull. During that part you literally get thrown straight up out of your seat and your full weight (and then some) is on the harnesses. I'm finding the difficult part of these negative-g maneuvers is keeping constant stick position and my feet on the pedals. No matter how tight the harness is, your body still moves which translates to the stick moving as well. So this can be a challenge on certain maneuvers.
This maneuver is one that I need to pay special attention to as it may cause "gray-out" and lead to disorientation. During the negative g part of the maneuver your blood pools in your head, then you abruptly pull a high positive -g recovery causing all that blood go back into the lower portion of your body. Once blood starts to leave the brain one of the first symptoms is reduction in vision thus the gray out.
Execution: This maneuver will also require a little extra speed on entry due to the hesitation in the vertical position. We fly this at about 160mph as well. You begin with a significant pull to vertical, perhaps even more aggressive than a regular loop. As you watch out the left window after the horizon is no longer visible out the front, you wait for the wing to become perpendicular to the horizon. Once it does you want to apply aggressive forward stick to stop all pitch movement and make a nice, crisp vertical hesitation. The hesitation is very slight in this aircraft and shouldn't even reach 2 seconds. After you wait that brief moment you want to haul back on the stick to pitch that nose right around to swap ends. The airplane is going to be very slow at this point and you want to make sure not to stall the aircraft. Each time I performed it I could feel significant buffeting on the controls throughout the entire 180 degree pitch. This part happens really fast and once the horizon is visible out the front you want to be sure to aggressively apply forward stick at the 90 degree point as your nose is pointed toward the ground. The other thing you need to be aware of is the fact the nose will actually want to yaw as you pitch over the top. Due to gyroscopic precession the nose will want to swing to the right, which will require a slight bit of left rudder. How much you may ask? However much is necessary. After doing it several times you'll get a feel for it (or so I'm told) Make sure to stop all aircraft movement at this time, hesitate a few brief moments, then recover as you would from the backside of a loop. Again, you don't want to hesitate too long as you will be accelerating extremely quickly. This portion should be right at 0-G's since you're headed straight toward the earth. From the cockpit, however, it will feel as negative. That's because the human body is only used to positive G's.
The outside version of this maneuver is just the same thing only reversed. You really need to pitch that nose forward a lot and feed in some serious forward stick. And since it is pitching the nose down you will want to feed in right rudder.
Want an easy way to remember which way the nose will yaw when pitching up? Think of the word "upright." That means when the nose pitches up, it will want to yaw to the right. And if you remember that, you can surely remember the opposite is true as well. Oh yeah, and that rule only applies to North American airplanes. Ones such as Yak's and Sukhoi's will be opposite since their propellers rotate counter clockwise.
So there you have it, flight number two! And now I have to wait until October 15th when my instructor gets back from a business trip to London.
Friday, September 14, 2007
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
|I'm scheduled to go up with Matt at 4:30 tomorrow. We'll start with a pretty thurough preflight briefing going over the maneuvers and procedures. Once airborne we'll do some steep turns, slow flight and stalls just to get me used to how the airplane feels in different conditions. Once I begin to get used to things we will move on to spins in both directions. We'll finish up with a couple simple aerobatic maneuvers such as the aileron roll and loop. For the purposes of this flight these maneuvers will simply be to acclimate myself to the unusual attitude of aerobatic flying and the G-forces I'll be experiencing throughout the training. |
Monday, September 10, 2007
Today I had a nice meeting with my aerobatic instructor, Matt Groth of Northwest Aerobatics (In association with Northwest Aviation Center). He showed me the airplane and gave a nice overview of the aircraft, its systems, and the things that make it unique as an aerobatic aircraft. He flys a beautiful green and white Bellanca Decathlon CS complete with smoke system. I got to sit in the cockpit for a little while and must say I'm quite impressed with the forward visibility! Unlike most other tail-draggers, you can actually see the ground out of the front of the aircraft while taxiing.
Matt seems like a pretty cool guy and sounds like a very pleasant instructor to have. It will certainly be a good change of pace considering my past luck with instructors. (I've gone through 15, Matt is lucky number 16!)
Sunday, September 9, 2007
As an act of Divine Intervention this last week I discovered that there is a fellow who flys out of Paine Field (where I work) who recently started his own aerobatic flight school, Northwest Aerobatics. Last thursday I got a copy of his syllabus, and have since communicated with the instructor about starting training ASAP.
FINALLY! We're going to meet on Monday to answer some more of my questions and figure out when to start my training. Hopefully it will begin either later this week or early next week. He has an 8 flight syllabus in his Decathlon which will walk me through all of the basic aerobatic maneuvers including aileron rolls, loops, hammerheads, spins, hesitation rolls and cuban-8's among a few others.
My dream has finally come true! All I ever wanted is a chance to prove my mettle and show that I really do have what it takes to be an airshow pilot.
I'll finally be flying airplanes in the way they're truly meant to fly... FREELY! No restraints. I'll be able to fly upside down, loop, and do whatever the airplane can take.
My long term goal is to start competing in aerobatics to build my skills and confidence that will allow me to one day fly at airshows in order to inspire others.
So, screw the boredom of flying straight and level, using autopilot and those whimpy 45 degree banked "steep" turns!!!
Saturday, September 1, 2007
The picture above shows what is a very dynamic maneuver flown by the Blue Angels. Due to the formation and the way it is setup the apperance changes drastically to the observer on the ground.
This picture of a maneuver called, "The Fortus," is also easily achievable due to prior knowlege.This is one of the most difficult pictures to capture at a Blue Angels show as the Diamond formation comes from directly behind the crowd. Depending upon your location at the airshow and how show center is arranged for the Blue Angles, the wingmen break formation either directly over the crowd or just in front as shown in this picture. To capture this picture I had my camera already aimed approximately where I thought the formation would fly as tracking them going directly overhead is extremely difficult. Especially with a heavy lens. Once the jets were in the viewfinder I began snapping pictures, and this was the first one off in a burst of about 5.
The following was the third shot in the same burst.
That's it for now! I hope this tip is able to help you out at your next airshow outting. I'll be explaining more tips and tricks in the weeks and months to come. I will be re-writing and editing these posts in a seperate document as part of my new book. Consider these my extremely rough, rough drafts. :)
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
If you're interested, please click here for a complete discription!
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
The picture above shows the full arc of rotation as a Beech Bonanza begins its takeoff roll at full power. This was shot with my Sigma 50-500mm lens in Shutter Priority (Tv) mode at 1/60 second.
This picture shows only a partial blur of the propeller as this Cessna 172 taxis out to the runway at low power. This was shot at a shutter speed of 1/125.The main thing is to get at least some sort of blur on the propeller. If the prop is still it looks like the airplane is either stopped on the ground or had an engine failure. To practice hand-holding the camera at this slow speed you can go out to your local freeway and practice on passing cars. Start out at 1/125 and shoot at that speed until you can sonsistantly get a nice, sharp photograph. Then try the next lowest speed. A few cumulative hours of this and you'll be ready to be handholding pictures as low as 1/50 second and have them come out crystal clear and sharp.
Monday, August 20, 2007
Canon Rebel XT - 51,000 shutter activations and still going strong!
Counting down 'till I get myself a Canon 40D :D
Canon 430EX Flash
Wolverine FlashPac 7000 60GB
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
In Thrust I Trust
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
For only $60 any of you can go to an FBO (fancy name for flight school) and take your first introductory flight lesson where you can actually fly the airplane with an instructor--just to see if you like it! I started my flying career by doing this several times starting right after I turned 13. A private pilots license runs you around $6,000 these days and you can easily obtain student loans to help offset the cost. Depending upon your flying schedule this can take anywhere from two years to six months.
So, if you've ever wanted to at least get a taste of what it's like to fly an airplane, do not hesitate! Give it a try! There is no better time than right now! :)
Monday, August 13, 2007
Right now I can only give a very brief overview of the pictures as it's late and I'm quite tired. Some of the subjects I photographed this week include the US Navy Blue Angels demonstration team, Greg Poe, Sean D. Tucker, Renny Price, the A-10 West Coast Demonstration Team, Homeland Fireworks display, Oregon Aero Skydancer, Oregon ANG F-15's, and one of the highlights of the show was the F-117A Nighthawk ("Stealth Fighter") flyby for two of the airshow days. The aircraft is being retired at the end of this year as the aircraft is already 25 years old. These two flybys marked the very last time I will ever see this jet again. :( It was kind of saddening, but after looking at the pictures I got, I was extremely pleased with the results.
Since I've obtained many pictures that made my own jaw drop (you photographers know that you're always your own worst critic) I've decided I'll start making several different 2008 year calendars. Also I will begin the process of putting together a Blue Angels photobook featuring pictures taken here in Seattle and at Hillsboro, Oregon.
Please stay tuned as I will be trying to get these pictures dealt with in a timely manner.
Thanks for checking in!
Monday, July 16, 2007
Saturday, June 23, 2007
- Much more insteresting background
- Adds dimension and scale to the image
- Shows more of the true nature of flight
- When presented with backlighting the clouds can help diffuse the light and provide softer shadows
- Evening lighting tends to really bring out the gold/red in the sunlight
- Vapor for those hard-turning jets
This picture would be very boring if it were taken on a cloudless day.
- With the sun to your back it can really make your subject pop
- Evening lighting can create spectacular effects
- Helps to isolate your subject as well
- Fewer focus/metering issues
This picture shows how the clear sky isolates the subject and really makes it pop.
I've gone through the B-17 and B-24 in the past and was just amazed then as I am now to see just how cramped it is inside these airplanes. It's obvious they weren't designed with comfort in mind. I was initially wearing my camera bag backpack when I got inside the B-17 and quickly realized there simply wasn't enough room to maneuver through the cramped interior. To get from the front of the aircraft to the back you have to walk through a tiny walk-way that goes through the bomb-bay.
The sound these beautiful machines make is pure music. The ground shakes as their radial engines turn over and roar to life. It was such a treat being able to hear these airplanes for the last three days at work.
To view and order prints of the photos I took of these magnificant airplanes, please click here.