Fly Fast

Here are some simple tips to help get more speed out of your aircraft.  Number one is to relearn what the rudder pedals are for.  Hint, they are not foot rest.  Anytime you are at the controls of the aircraft your feet should be on the rudder pedals, I often use the term “Your feet should be velcroed to the pedals”.  You should keep just enough pressure on both pedals to keep the rudder from moving around.  This is basically what a yaw damper does on a large aircraft.  Once the rudder starts moving a bit you start to get some lateral acceleration which takes away from your forward acceleration or forward speed.  It also should go without me saying that the ball should always be in the center – zero sideslip.  With zero sideslip the aircraft is moving through the air as clean and streamlined as it can.  Any sideslip at all will slow you down.  When in coordinated flight the aircraft has the smallest possible profile to the relative wind.   As a result, drag is at its minimum.  The FAA defines a slip (ball not in the center) as an intentional maneuver to decrease airspeed so why would any pilot fly in cruise flight in a slip?  Many pilots will fly most of their flight in a slip simply because they do not use the rudder pedals properly.

Most instructors as well as pilots tend to dismiss “seat of the pants” flying but I always try to teach it and point out how to use your seat of the pants sensations to help improve your flying skills.  I can actually feel in my body when the ball is not centered, I do not need the flight instruments to tell me this.  When the ball is in the center all occupants should perceive their weight to be acting straight downwards into their seats.  To sum this up coordinated flight is preferred over uncoordinated flight because it is more comfortable for the occupants and it minimizes the drag force on the aircraft.  Also remember that it is important that rudder and aileron inputs are coordinated during a turn so maximum aircraft performance (speed) can be maintained.

Here is what the FAA has to say about coordinated flight:  In proper coordinated flight, there is no skidding or slipping.  An essential basic airmanship skill is the ability of the pilot to sense or “feel” any uncoordinated condition (slip or skid) without referring to instrument reference.

Second tip for more speed is to understand how to properly lean the mixture.  Your engine is most efficient when it burns all the fuel in the fuel/air mixture. This is the best economy setting. It creates the hottest exhaust temperature, which registers on the EGT and is commonly called the “peak” temperature. If you lean beyond the best-economy mixture, excess air tends to cool the exhaust—but the engine runs poorly. If you richen the mixture, the extra fuel also cools the exhaust—but fuel economy suffers.  An engine produces the most power at the best power mixture setting, which is slightly richer than best economy.  At best power, the exhaust temperature is typically 100 degrees to 150 degrees cooler than peak EGT.  Although best power results in a higher airspeed, it also increases fuel consumption.

Next we can pay attention to the weight and balance of the aircraft.  Load the aircraft towards the aft of the CG envelope as possible but stay within the legal limits.  At aft CGs, the airplane will be less stable, with a slightly lower stalling speed, a slightly faster cruising speed, and less desirable stall characteristics.  It is important to understand the point that I am making here, ALWAYS stay within the CG envelope.  As the aircraft nears the forward limits and the aft limits the handling characteristics and performance of the aircraft changes – towards the aft end of the APPROVED CG envelope is better for more speed.

Fly Fast and SAFE.

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Today in Aviation History
December 14, 1924: A powder catapult launches a Martin MO-1 observation plane from the forward turret of the battleship Mississippi, at Bremerton, WA. Following this demonstration, the powder catapult is widely used on battleships and cruisers.