Sunday, 21 July 2013

In physics we trust

Bit of a rollercoaster lesson last time out. Winds doing some seriously funky stuff. It really was like riding a roller coaster. One minute I could be trimmed out for a nice clean 65knots, then next a whoosh of wind and I’m perilously close to stall speed. With a mental note in my head to review wind shear and remember the differences between “positive performance” and “negative performance” effects on final, I wrestled the plane down onto the runway for some pretty passable crosswind landings.

Pretty passable because, despite my loud and frequent cursing, not a peep out of Bob*. I didn’t need his input to figure out what to do. Although not entirely comfortable with it, I was on top of the situation. Even with the funky wind effects.
The whole thing got me thinking though ,my crosswind landings are a million times better than they ever have been, but it so hard to describe what has changed. I just feel the plane better now. I can set up the slip with just the right amount of aileron and rudder combo to get that upwind/downwind wheel touch correct. I don’t know how the hell you teach someone to “feel” something but somehow Bob’s managed.

It was the same on final where the winds we jostling me around, suddenly a gust would see me low and slow. This is the ultimate bad combination in flying; high and fast is ok, low and slow can be fatal. I’d find myself low and slow and instinctively correct. You may not think that is a big deal until you realise that the corrective action is to point the nose down and add some power, basically every fibre in your body says “Bad idea, we are going to smack head first into the water” whereas your pilot skills know that this is the right thing to do.
Physics wins over instinct every time but those instincts are almost hard wired into our brains. Again, how do you teach someone to disobey every survival sense in their body?

You teach them the physics, you let them see the results and you hope they believe you.
In physics we trust and on the centreline we land!**



*Not strictly true, for a lack of anything better to do, Bob has started critiquing the utter rubbish that comes out of my mouth. New phrases are met with a “Hmmm, that’s a new one” and other nonsensical phrases such as my throw away remark that JES “handles like a pig on the ground” were met with an inquiry as to where my knowledge base on the handling characteristics of said porcines might be derived from.  


** not quite but getting closer!


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