PPL – Lesson 1

Another lesson successfully completed of my Private Pilot’s Licence (PPL), and I have to say I cannot believe I am finally starting to realise my dream of learning to fly. Today’s lesson was a lot more official than my trial lesson, working on the effects of controls on the attitude of the aircraft. Before we set off, I learnt some of the start up procedures of the aircraft, I still feel like a numpty shouting “clear prop” but I would prefer that to discovering someone was stood in front of it when I start up the engine! We set of taxiing and I got some practice in steering the aircraft when on the ground. It is difficult to appreciate without actually being there just how strange the sensation of steering with your feet and your hands not moving. Especially when, like myself you have had experience of driving a car.

The first new concept to be introduced today was rudder control on take-off, my instructor dealt with all the throttle and pitch control but I had the challenge of keeping the aircraft pointing down the runway. Something I began to notice was due to the direction of the propeller turning the aircraft tended to yaw to the left therefore the rudder must be pushed to the right. This keeps the aircraft pointing down the runway. You can watch the end of my take-off in the video below

I then moved on to learning how using some of the varying controls on the aircraft affect the pitch, yaw and roll of the aircraft. The exercise began by using the ailerons, these are the “flappy” bits at the end of the wing to roll the aircraft left to right. This is done by turning the yoke, this is the steering wheel like object in front of the pilot. When the aircraft banks, or rolls, the attitude of the nose will drop. Therefore, roll affects the pitch of the aircraft. Pitch is where the nose points, to most people that would be up or down! So, onto the rudder control, this is the vertical flap at the back of the tail this turn the aircraft left or right but in does not roll the aircraft. In practice the aircraft rolls when you change the yaw, this can sometimes cause a spiral dive. Spiral dives are not spins but a fast decent in a spiral fashion, part of my lesson was learning how to recover from this. At first this was pretty scary, but I am sure there will be scarier exercises as I progress through my training further. After a couple of attempts I managed to recover the dive by reducing the throttle and rolling out of the dive to the datum attitude. The datum attitude is almost like a neutral, not climbing, rolling or yawing just straight and level flight.

Overall I really enjoyed my first official lesson after my trial, I am now 2 hours into the PPL and cannot wait to have some more lessons. I have to say, and I apologise to my driving instructor but it is a much prettier area to learn to drive a vehicle. It simply is breath-taking from the air. Keep an eye out for my next blog post on lesson 2, straight and level flight.