Practice, practice, practice… by Damian Guttery

When I got back from my second dual cross-country, I was annoyed when my instructor suggested we do a dual on crosswind landings. I should be used to crosswinds by now, I’ve been flying out of Palmerston North for about 6 months. But the 152 does handle a crosswind a little differently than the Warrior. My performance going into Nelson had left a lot to be desired, so I didn’t argue.

When I got to Paraparaumu, on Saturday, I saw that the windsock was blowing about 5 knots straight down 34. My instructor said there was no point practicing crosswinds, he wanted me just to go and practice my circuits solo.

This I thought was just a waste of money; in conditions this perfect there was neither challenge nor excitement. I did however feel I needed some forced landing practice, having mainly flown with passengers recently, it was a month or so since I had done any real practice of that sort.

Take off proved me right about the conditions, not the slightest bump all the way up to 3000. A listening watch told me that the 2 low flying areas, 60 and 61 were occupied, so I decided to do some stalling practice just north of Kapiti. I had not done those for a while in a 152. After the HASELL checks were complete, I applied carb heat, closed the throttle and waited for the speed to reduce into the while arc. Seventy-five knots, 10 degrees, 65 knots, 20 degrees, 55 knots, the last 10 degrees, 50 knots carb heat off, kept slowing, I stopped watching the instruments after 50 knots waiting for the stall warning and eventual stall. The nose drops, followed quickly by the left wing, recover. Check forward, left rudder, full power.

Why isn’t the yaw stopping, it’s getting faster. The sea is going around bloody fast in front of me; it seems to be getting bloody close. I’m history! Speed must be getting high by now with the nose that low, I knock up the flaps in one move. Suddenly I remembered my instructor when he taught me fully developed stalls: “If you get yourself into trouble, centralize the ailerons and rudder.” I had nothing to lose. I noticed I had rolled on Aileron for the first time, leveled those and centralized the rudder.

It worked quite quickly, the spinning stopped, but the nose was still a long way down, quick glance at the asi, 160 knots. I’m in big trouble, this particular aircraft had a Vne of 142 knots. Ok, I have to pull out of this dive without loading the aircraft. This proved easier than I thought, with 160 knots over the elevator, it wasn’t easy to pull up, eventually I got it back to the yellow, then the green on the asi. From a starting height of 3100, I was down to 2200.I was lucky I didn’t lose any more.

The next problem was how to get this thing down, without putting to much stress on a possibly damaged aircraft. The easiest way seemed to be a flapless landing, won’t have the extra stress that flaps put on the wing and the round out for landing is smaller that a normal approach.

After the rather eventful flight, the landing was beautiful, and I taxied along the grass for Associated.

The result: I was a shattered mess for about an hour. The aircraft was grounded until it could be checked. Thankfully there was no damage other than slight dents in the trailing edge caused by too high a force being applied upwards on the trailing edge of the flaps.

I did a dual in wing drop stalls before I left which showed I had used the wrong rudder, which was my main fault, didn’t check forward enough and was too quick on the throttle. I have been grounded from PIC flight until I do a full BFR sometime this week.

What did I learn? mainly not to be afraid to take an instructor with me occasionally, and to practice all maneuvers more regularly.

Damian Guttery