Lesson 3 – climbing and descending part one

After a fair few cancellations of this lesson, the weather conditions were finally good enough for me to get back up in the sky. During the pre-flight briefing, I was told we would be practicing climbing (and conveniently) descending. In the syllabus, climbing is exercise 7 and is in two parts (with exercise 8 being a two part descending exercise). However, it makes more sense to do climbing and descending part one as one lesson, then climbing and descending part two next lesson.

Before entering a climb, we have to lookout (around and up in to the airspace we’ll be climbing in to). We then do our standard PAT (power, attitude, trim). In the Warrior, the best rate of climb (known as Vyis 79kts. So:

  • Power – FULL – maintain balance, will yaw left so be prepared to right rudder
  • Attitude – climb attitude, looking for airspeed of 79kts
  • Trim – to maintain climb attitude

During the climb, we need to DABLE – every 500 ft:

  • Direction – are we heading in the right direction?
  • Attitude – are we still in the climb attitude, and is our airspeed correct?
  • Balance – are we in balance? Correct with the rudder if we’re not.
  • Lookout – roll with 15° bank in one direction, looking out, then roll back in the other direction, looking out. (Alternatively we can temporarily push the nose down and then back up again)
  • Engine – are the temperatures and pressures within limits?

Exiting the climb is the one place where we DON’T PAT. Instead, we APT:

  • Attitude – level attitude, wait for airspeed to reach cruising speed of 95/100kts
  • Power – at cruising airspeed, adjust power to normal cruise (which is 2350 RPM in the Warrior)
  • Trim – for level flight

The reason we don’t PAT when exiting a climb is because of the difference in airspeed. As we saw in an earlier lesson, the engine RPM is linked to airspeed. So, if we set 2350 RPM at 80kts and changed to a level attitude, airspeed would increase to the cruise speed of 100kts and then we’d notice the RPM was higher than 2350 and we’d need to repeat the process all over again. So, instead, when exiting a climb, APT.

Always PAT, except when exiting a climb
Always PAT, except when exiting a climb

Before descending, first lookout, then PAT. In the Warrior, the glide descent speed is 73kts. This means this speed will keep you in the air for the longest possible time. Therefore if we were to experience engine failure we’d want to trim attitude to maintain a glide descent at 73kts. To descend, the procedure is fairly similar:

  • Power – to idle, carb heat hot
  • Attitude – glide descent attitude, to maintain 73kts
  • Trim – to maintain glide descent

As with climbing, during the descent we should DABLE every 500 ft. Exiting the descent is a standard PAT, remembering to turn carb heat back to cold before putting on full throttle. More on carb heat in another blog post.

All in all, I found this lesson relatively straightforward and it sure felt good to be back in the air after those few weeks being grounded by the weather. The glide descent resulted in an altitude loss of around 500ft per minute, which felt surprisingly slow. Very reassuring that we’d actually have quite a lot of time to prepare for an emergency landing if the need ever arises (assuming we’re at a sensible height).

I also used this lesson as an opportunity to try out my new GoPro video/audio recording kit. Once I got home, I reviewed the footage and was pretty happy with how it turned out. I’d manage to position it so that you get a good view of the instruments, me, and can see out to the left and right of the aircraft. Here’s a snapshot from in-flight:

Screenshot taken from GoPro recording in-flight

Here’s a clip of me taking off:

To view it full-quality, you need to select HD from the settings menu and then click full-screen.

One annoying thing about the GoPro was the battery life. It recorded 1 hour and 7 minutes before running out of juice. Not enough to capture the landing.

Next lesson – in a week’s time – will be climbing and descending part two.

7 thoughts on “Lesson 3 – climbing and descending part one

      1. The golden rule, is always airspeed. Never get close to the stall unintentionally. Power *before* you set attitude to climb maintains airspeed, attitude before power reduction when levelling off maintains airspeed.

  1. I learnt at glos in a very unique aircraft – now converting to pa 28 and your blog is a great resource (whilst not replacing tuition and poh study of course…).

  2. January 14th 2018 – probably the best advice I have seen / read after 20+ years of FS. I have always struggled with trimming and the simple, step by step, guidance for climbing, level and descending allowed me, today, to land (Cessna) for, maybe, the first time ever, without the front wheel bouncing and the ‘plane zig zagging at speed down the runway. Well done and thank you very much. Jon

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