October 10, 2011

Circuit Separation

It's been a while since I've flown, due to some bad weather, and an even longer time since I've posted. Since my first solo, I have flown two more solo flights in the circuit. The second solo flight I did consisted of another quick ride with my instructor (0.5 hours) and then I logged 1.1 hours PIC. I flew my third solo flight this morning, which was my first solo flight without a ride with my instructor beforehand. I flew 10 circuits on Runway 08 at CYKF, logging 1.6 hours PIC, which put me up to 3.1 hours PIC, and 20.2 hours total time.

While I was flying today, I learned some new techniques for dealing with safe aircraft separation in the circuit.  My instructor and one of her other students were in the circuit with me, and they were one place ahead in the sequence, also flying in a Katana. They were flying slower than me most of the time (more equipment on their Katana, and an extra person) and there were quite a few times where I would be catching up to them on the downwind leg. There are quite a few different ways to slow down your groundspeed or keep safe separation, but you should check with your instructor to see what techniques they want you to use:

-Reduce throttle to just above the point that you will begin to lose altitude
-Add flaps (this will permit you to fly at a lower speed)
-Fly your downwind leg slanted slightly away from parallel with the runway
-S-Turns (this will increase the distance you have to travel, therefore increasing separation)

Also, ATC will sometimes tell you that they'll advise your crosswind or base turns. This will increase you take-off or downwind legs, providing more spacing between you and other aircraft.

Also, here is a great article by Plane and Pilot Magazine that deals with aircraft separation and collision avoidance: http://www.planeandpilotmag.com/proficiency/pilot-skills/when-airplanes-collide-avoiding-the-unexpected.html. Aircraft separation is a major component of aviation safety, and I highly recommend you talk with your instructor and research about it, because the skills used in keeping distance between other aircraft are essential to being a safe and successful pilot.

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