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Joining sport and recreational aviation
Advanced flight training –
When an ab initio pilot graduates from a RA-Aus flight school, she or he has received a RA-Aus Pilot Certificate rated in a particular aircraft group (e.g. 3-axis aeroplanes, weight-shift control trikes or powered 'chutes) usually with cross country, passenger and radio operator endorsements added to their Pilot Certificate, and perhaps with a tailwheel endorsement. The newly-fledged pilot has developed some piloting techniques and has acquired some skills and some situational interpretation and judgement abilities, but possesses little aviation knowledge.
In short, she or he has concluded the first stage of training and moved a little way along the airmanship learning curve.
How far a new pilot, or any pilot, will advance along that learning curve is entirely in their own hands. However, all RAAOs are interested in, and concerned for, the advancement in airmanship of all their members and recommend that all pilots personally maintain that target of continuing learning and continuing advancement in their selected field within sport and recreational aviation. Some owners, on a large pastoral property, may wish to learn to use a suitable aircraft type as a work vehicle, in which case training to qualify for a low-level endorsement is vital.
The other path is advanced flight training within the selected aircraft group, where knowledge should be sought about each aircraft's safe flight envelope and the safe handling practices required in various work and/or atmospheric and/or airfield environments. Some of this knowledge will be accumulated through ongoing experience and contact with others (via club membership, for example), much through self-instruction and experiment, but normally some has to be garnered through a fee-for-service provider. The providers are the Flight Training Facilities and the airworthiness training facilities that may be associated with an FTF.
Basically any pilot has three choices. One, continue to do much the same type of flying experienced at the ab initio training school, i.e. fair weather, light winds, familiar places, similar aircraft and gentle flight. There is no increase in the quality of experience or competency — just an increase in quantity of time spent in the air — until it becomes uninteresting. Enjoyment and challenge cease, the learned skills then slowly erode and you remain a novice in aviation.
The second choice is to perhaps expand your field of interest within the entire field of sport and recreational aviation. For example a 3-axis aeroplane pilot might opt for weight-shift control experience in trikes or powered hang gliders, or gain an understanding of rotorcraft by learning to fly ASRA gyroplanes. The only reasons for a newly-fledged pilot to do so at such an early stage of their development might be economic, or a realisation that you don't much like your current aircraft group, or you don't find the type of flying thrilling enough and would like to get into something more personally challenging, perhaps sport parachuting for example.
Developing professionalism. But if you, the newly-fledged pilot, recognise that, up to this point, an instructor was guiding a process of learning to fly safely and now, what you are really getting with the Flight Crew Certificate — having being judged that you can do it safely — is license to continue to learn by yourself. Then you can opt to become a responsible, professional pilot. 'Professional' is not meant to imply a commercial career, rather it implies that you set high personal standards of airmanship and competency in flight — and associated operations — and accept that improvement and training is never complete, no matter how many and what type of flight hours are in your log books. This professionalism entails broadening your knowledge base so that you can set appropriate personal standards, stepping up flight discipline, acquiring additional flight skills, honing techniques and accuracy, gaining new experience and sharpening judgemental skills; perhaps undertaking a program resulting in an instructor certificate.
Self criticism. You must evaluate your performance after each flight and identify the most poorly performed phases, determine how to improve them and then concentrate on those phases during subsequent flights until you have achieved your current required standard in that aspect of flight operation.
In short, developing professionalism implies disciplined, continually advancing flight training, mostly personally planned and conducted but with occasional input at appropriate times from a Senior Instructor, CFI or Pilot Examiner. It does not imply that you have to become highly skilled in all aspects of flight; rather, you should be comfortably skilled in most applicable aspects and you keep raising your performance standards. We will discuss it a little more in the airmanship, flight discipline and human factors module of this guide.
Flying, like driving a car on the public roads, is inherently risky and most unforgiving of poor discipline. One can avoid the risks by not venturing on the roads or in the sky, but if you choose to do so, then best reduce the risk by utilising defensive driving or risk management piloting techniques. The latter is integral to advanced flight training. The advanced training programs that you might undertake at a Flight Training Facility will ensure that you achieve that school's minimum requirement for safe flight, but the programs will not bring you up to your full potential — that is entirely up to you.
Remember that in all fields of aviation, some 80% of accidents and incidents are attributed to human error. And usually not just a single act of stupidity or gross indiscipline, where both regulations and commonsense are flouted, but a series of small errors or misjudgements — not individually critical — often made by more than one person and often attributable to the applicable system.
There are many learning sequences that can be undertaken without assistance. Here are just a few associated with flight at slow speed, but if you are contemplating doing the following in a home-built aircraft make sure it has been through its full flight test program.
manoeuvring flight envelope. It is advisable that these manoeuvres are first demonstrated to you by a person skilled in their execution who can then point out to you the inaccuracies of your initial attempts. For example:
Some training in other systems, such as carburettor anti-icing and variable-pitch propellers, will expand competence and experience. You may find some light aircraft fitted with retractable undercarriage in which case a retractable endorsement is required.
Take heed of the placard in the cockpit that states:
'WARNING THIS AIRCRAFT IS NOT REQUIRED TO COMPLY WITH THE SAFETY REGULATIONS FOR STANDARD AIRCRAFT. PERSONS FLY IN THIS AIRCRAFT AT THEIR OWN RISK.'
If you have not flown a single-seat ultralight with similar flight characteristics to the type you contemplate flying then it is advisable to get your first experiences under the supervision of a flight school.
energy management characteristics of a 'fabric and tube' aircraft are substantially different. It is advisable to receive some demonstration of flight characteristics and handling techniques. This is one reason why experienced pilots with a GA licence are required to accumulate 5 RA-Aus hours, preferably in a 'draggy' aircraft, before the RA-Aus pilot certificate is approved.
Similarly, a pilot experienced only in draggy aircraft should receive dual instruction in the flight characteristics of the more slippery aircraft before acting as pilot-in-command. This particularly applies to single-seaters constructed in fibre-reinforced polymer materials with quite high aspect ratio wings, where the closest two-seat equivalent is a sailplane.
RA-Aus Operations Manual issue 7.
The Seaplane Pilots Association Australia has about 450 members around Australia; membership is free. Website is www.seaplanes.org.au, download their Code of Operation.
Formation flying means that two or more aircraft fly so close to each other that, in all manoeuvres, much the same relative position is maintained and the aircraft are seen to be in complete unison. Unless the pilots involved hold the formation endorsement, no RA-Aus aircraft can fly closer than 100 feet to another aircraft. 'Close proximity' flying is not formation flying. The photo is a formation of 16 Sea Furies with a lone Firebrand behind them, three Seafires 15s on the left and two Sea Hornets on the right. Your author remembers he was relegated to the Firebrand that day — probably thought safer for all. The schedule for the formation endorsement can be found in section 2.07 item 12 of the RA-Aus Operations Manual issue 7.
power curve; i.e. very high lift coefficient (thus very high angle of attack), low velocity and high power to counter induced drag. Power is increased to fly slower, rather than decreased as in normal flight at the 'front end' of the power curve. STOL aircraft are provided with flap settings and high-lift devices that can provide a big increase in CLmax with a comparatively low increase in drag. They have a propeller that is efficient at low forward speed, a low design wing loading, and feature good stability and control at very low speeds. They can maintain steeper angles of climb and descent.
Pilots have to be aware of those control characteristics particularly at slow speeds in turbulence. This is an area only for the trained STOL pilot, attuned to the operating environment and an individual aircraft's foibles. STOL capability may additionally be defined by the runway length needed to take-off and to land over a 15-metre high obstacle or the length of the ground roll. Utilising a very small area on the top of a hill for take-off and landing is not a capability of the average pilot. STOL techniques are not applicable to non-STOL aircraft. The photo below indicates a one-way landing area that is definitely only for experienced STOL pilots flying a tough taildragger STOL aeroplane.
Denis Vanzella: "My first flight into Snowy Plain was a leg shaker but I've got it pretty pat now — touch wood. The one-way 'strip' is about 70 metres long with 20% slope at an elevation around 4850 feet. Best conditions are in southerly winds below 10 knots. West to north-west winds around 10 knots become vicious with a big roll off the main range that not even the Slepcev Storch can outclimb at low levels."
Apart from STOL, there are various 'short field' and 'soft field' take-off and landing techniques applicable to every aircraft and airstrip condition, which are touched upon in Pilot Certificate training. Such techniques can be refined with advanced training.
advanced techniques are always regarded only as an additional aid to the basic VFR navigation techniques of pilotage and dead-reckoning.
RA-Aus Operations Manual issue 7 for information about the instructor rating.
The next module in this 'Joining sport and recreational aviation' series defines 'airmanship' and considers flight discipline and human factors training.
|The 'Joining sport and recreational aviation' series|
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