Today I performed spins for the first time. Lately, I haven't been too comfortable with stalls and such
that require much more than normal pitch attitudes, but I've been getting a little more used to them. Since spins involve
the airplane pointing almost straight down (I think around 75-80 degrees below the horizon) and simultaneously rolling and
yawing really fast, I wasn't exactly looking at today's flight like it's just another flight.
Not only was I doing a maneuver that I've never experienced before, I was in a type of plane that I haven't
flown in about a year and a half to two years, a Cessna 150. Due to the limited weight requirements of the 150,
I was also flying with an instructor that I've never flown with before. Just getting in to the 150 is a trick for me.
The seat isn't very far above the floor, so your legs are fairly flat when you are in it. The front of the door frame
is pretty close to the front of the seat, even though it was as far back as possible. I had to make a couple of tries
before I figured out how to get in, that little plane just wasn't intended for people like me.
My takeoff was alright, but the ol' 150 with its 100hp engine just doesn't have much climb performance, especially
when at max gross weight like it was with me and Roy in it. Durant has an elevation of 698', and Roy said to climb to
6,000' for the spins. It took a while to get there, as the rate of climb wasn't much over 200 feet per minute,
occasionally it reached 400 feet per minute when we went through an updraft. I'll let you do the math on how long it
took to climb to 6,000' at that rate. I was wishing I've had some glider training, as I could have found some lift to
help out that meager climb, but no luck on that.
When we finally got close to 6,000' Roy started looking around the cockpit to make sure there were no loose items
in there to cause problems for us. Getting hit in the head with the towbar or wheel chocks probably wouldn't be
a whole lot of fun. At this point, I was getting fairly nervous with anticipation. Roy went over the maneuver
with me one more time before demonstrating one. "This spin will be power-off (engine is at idle) and to the left.
So I'll start by doing a normal power-off stall, and just before the stall breaks (the nose drops) with full
back-elevator pressure and neutral ailerons, I'll apply full left rudder. Since the airplane will try to recover
on its own if I let go of the controls, I'll maintain their position until I'm ready to recover. Recovery will occur
by making sure the throttle is at idle, neutral ailerons, full opposite rudder, and apply forward elevator pressure to break
the stall. When it stops spinning, I'll gradually apply back elevator pressure to return to level flight. You
have to do that gently, as the airspeed is increasing rapidly, and you can overstress the airframe or enter a secondary stall
if you pull up to fast."
So then he does all of that. The power off stall is entered by reducing the throttle to idle and gradually
raising the nose to trade off airspeed to maintain altitude. I grabbed on to the seat, I didn't know what this was going
to feel like. Just before the stall breaks, Roy pushed the left rudder pedal all the way forward. This made the
plane yaw (turn) and roll left. It started kind of slow, but the rate increases rapidly. You go from looking at
nothing but sky to looking at nothing but ground extremely quickly. As soon as you see the ground, it looks like you
are pointed straight down (not far from that though) and it is a blur because the spin is pretty fast. I think my mouth
was wide open with my eyes about as big as pie plates at this point. Even though we were pointed down and going down,
I noticed that I was getting pushed into the seat pretty good. The reason for that is that you basically follow a corkscrew
path, with the top side of the airplane always pointing towards the center of the corkscrew. After making about two
turns, Roy recovered. It stops spinning pretty fast, then airspeed starts increasing rapidly. Due to the high
airspeed, the engine RPM gets up to about 2,000 even though the throttle is at idle, max RPM is 2,700. It was probably
a good thing that the intercom wasn't picking up everything I said, because Roy would have heard me mutter a few choice words
after that. Oops. I remeber feeling my heart beating pretty fast at this point also. I think we recovered
at around 5,000' so we lost about 1,000' in what felt like 10 seconds at the most during that two turn spin.
After climbing back to 6,000, Roy demonstrated a power-on stall to the right. The only difference
was that we were spinning the opposite direction, and the spin started off faster than power-off, and you have to make sure
to pull the throttle to idle when the spin starts. I was able to comprehend what I was seeing and feeling a litte better
He then had me climb back to 6,000 and do a power-off spin to the left. I wasn't bothered by the maneuver as
much since I was in control, instead of just along for the ride. I couldn't tell how many turns I made, so I recovered
when Roy said to. The 150's controls are a lot lighter than a 172's, so I inadvertantly pulled up too fast during the
dive recovery. I climbed back to 6,000' and I performed a power-off spin to the right. I didn't pull back
too much on the dive recovery that time. After climbind back to 6,000' yet again, I performed a power-on spin to the
left. By this time I started thinking spins aren't too bad after all. Actually, I'm kind of interested in trying
them again sometime.
For the landing, I reduced power a little too much, so I ended up getting a little low and slow on final.
I also let the airplane ballon back up a little bit before touchdown, so I'm thinking "this isn't going to be my best landing".
To my suprise, I touched down without even feeling it. A fun flight followed by a smooth touchdown, it was a good flight!