Pre-solo training

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The Cambridge Gliding Club (CGC) provides a detailed training manual. You may also find it useful to read:

  • The Glider Pilots Manual by Ken Stewart
  • Gliding, From Passenger to Pilot by Steven Longland

The main skills you must master before going solo are shown below. Please note that the lessons may not be in this order and some lessons can be covered in the same flight.

Exercise 1: Familiarisation with the glider

Exercise 2: Procedures in emergencies

Exercise 3: Preparation for flight

Exercise 4: Initial air experience

Exercise 5: Effects of controls

In this lesson you will learn how the elevator, ailerons and rudder control "pitch", "roll" and "yaw" respectively. The instructor will also emphasise how important it is to look out while flying the glider.

Videos

Exercise 6: Coordinated rolling to and from moderate angles of bank

Videos

Exercise 7: Straight flying

In this lesson you will learn that the trimmer is used to set the "hands off" flying speed, and that in general you should always fly the glider "in trim".

Exercise 8: Turning

In this lesson you will learn the ailerons generate "drag" as well as "lift" and how we use the rudder and ailerons together to make a balanced turn. The instructor will also emphasise how important it is to look out while flying the glider.

Exercise 9

Exercise 9a: Slow flight

Exercise 9b: Stalling

In this lesson you will learn what a stall is, what the symptoms are, and if you do stall, how to recover from it. The teaching is aimed at helping you to avoid inadvertent stalls. Understanding the theory behind stalling will help you appreciate that stalling is not "falling out of the sky".

You will also learn what "reduced / negative G" is, what the symptoms are, how not to confuse the sensation it generates with that of a stall, and how to return to normal flight.

Videos

Exercise 10: Spin recognition and spin avoidance

In this lesson you will learn that spinning is another form of "stalled flight". How if one wing is at a greater angle of attack, then that wing will stall first, producing less lift and more drag than the other wing. As one wing is producing more lift than the other the glider will start to roll towards the wing that has stalled first. As that wing is also producing more drag the glider will yaw towards the downward going wing. These two effects cause the angle of attack to increase on the downward going wing, increasing the depth of the stall, reducing the amount of lift and increasing the drag. This is called autorotation and results in the glider spinning.

Videos

Exercise 11: Launch Methods

Exercise 11a: Winch

In this lesson you will learn about winch launches. If some of your previous flights have been winch launches then you will have a good idea of what it’s all about and your instructors may well have explained what they are doing during the launch. You will be given several demonstrations of winch launches before you attempt one yourself and you will fly the entire launch. Then every winch flight you have after that is an opportunity to practice winch launching.

During the winch launch there is a small risk of the cable breaking, you will need to train for that eventuality.

Exercise 11b: Aerotow

In this lesson you will learn about aerotowing. If your previous flights have been launched by aerotow then you will have a good idea of what it's all about and your instructors may well have explained what they are doing during the launch. Once you start to fly either part or all of the launch then every aerotow flight you have after that is an opportunity to practice aerotow launching. It is most likely that you will start by trying to fly the upper sections of the launch first, and as you get more experienced you will fly the lower sections of the launch.

Videos

Exercise 12: Circuit, approach and landing

In this lesson you will learn that the airbrakes generate drag, increasing the glider’s descent rate and thus reducing how far it can glide. On the approach we use the airbrakes to control where the glider will roundout. Normally we choose a reference point on the ground and use the airbrakes to control our arrival to that point. If we are going too far (overshooting) then we use more airbrake, if we are undershooting we close them, regain the correct approach path and then reopen them.

In this lesson you will learn, after flying down the approach, when and how to round out, hold off, and then to land the glider. During this lesson the instructor may control the airbrakes.

In this lesson you will learn about circuit planning. By now you will have learnt that ideally we want to fly the approach with around half airbrake. This gives us leeway to alter the glider’s descent rate if we are either overshooting or undershooting. It is best to think of circuit planning as the process that allows us to complete our final turn lined up on the approach at the correct height and position to fly a half airbrake approach to our chosen reference point (where we wish to round out).

Spiral dives

In a spiral dive the glider is spiralling down but flying normally. The airspeed will increase, the level of "G" will increase and the rate of rotation and the descent rate will normally be lower than in a spin. During a spiral dive the wings are not stalled and all the controls work normally.