straight and level

The first exercise for students is to learn to fly straight and level. Having of course read the aerodynamics section of ground school, you will already be familiar with the forces acting upon the aircraft. What seems like a fairly easy thing to do can actually take a bit of practice. Firstly, the average training aircraft has a low wing loading which means that it will react to turbulence to a far greater extend than heavier and more sophisticated planes. When the aircraft bounce the student at first has a tendency to over-react on the controls. This can result in PIO (pilot induced oscillation).

Straight and level also means that the pilot must control three dimensions. While concentrating on maintaining a compass course, the student loses or gains height, or vice versa. Once cruise speed has been reached, the aircraft must be trimmed to obtain a neutral feel of the elevator control. There is a time lag before the aircraft settle down which again often results on over control by the student. The wings must be kept level otherwise the aircraft will begin to turn.

At periodic intervals, the direction indicator will need to be re-adjusted with the compass. Carb heat should be applied for short periods, say every ten minutes in humidity levels which may encourage icing.

You must also develop your scanning technique to look about for other aircraft and check your flight and engine instruments. In looking out of the window, you must keep scanning with your eyes, as otherwise you may be missing a possible collision with another aircraft/balloon/microlight/glider.

This is because we have a blind spot (fovea).

unless you are scanning and moving your head, this could be very very bad

The area where the optic nerve connects to the retina in the back of each eye is known as the optic disk. There is a total absence of cones and rods in this area, and, consequently, each eye is completely blind in this spot. Under normal binocular vision conditions this is not a problem, because an object cannot be in the blind spot of both eyes at the same time. On the other hand, where the field of vision of one eye is obstructed by an object (windshield post), a visual target (another aircraft) could fall in the blind spot of the other eye and remain undetected.

You will not be the only person in the air, and traffic near airfields can be quite busy. It is important to learn how to interpret the relative movements of other aircraft in order to determine which target could represent a potential collision. If the target moves across your windshield you are not on collision course. If the target remains static, avoidance action must be taken.

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relative movement of target  - no collision danger

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no relative movement = bad hair day

Right of way

If two aircraft are approaching each other they shall pass to the right

Aircraft to starboard is of right of way aircraft

Overtake in the air to the right.
Overtaking aircraft must not interfere with the overtaken aircraft

There are many occasions where it is necessary to maintain straight and level flight while reducing speed (entering into the pattern (circuit) for example). The throttle setting is reduced and the aircraft begins to lose airspeed. To prevent descent, the stick is gradually pulled back which then presents the underside of the aircraft to the airflow, thus increasing drag. The result is that the aircraft slows down further. An increase in throttle will then be required to maintain altitude.

The aircraft should of course be re-trimmed in the new configuration. Slow flying results in a nose up attitude and forward vision is obscured. Once airspeed has reduced to VFE (the speed at which the flaps can safely be deployed) one stage of flap will bring the nose of the aircraft to a more comfortable attitude.

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