Friday, June 09, 2006

Getting the hang of the DC-3

I think I'm getting a handle on landing this beast. The key --and I know I read this before yet it didn't fully sink in-- is to manage speed with the trim and sink rate with the throttle.

I must be doing this more intuitively on the light planes, because my landing are very good for the most part. Actually, let me modify that a bit. My typical landing in the Cessnas are usally pretty steep (approaching a short runway with nearby obstacles) so I am at idle power and pulling back on the yoke to steepen the descent. Still, the "stick-and-rudder" principles are the same as on larger planes.

Anyhow, with the DC-3 you do not land with idle power, and you don't have the same "lift to spare" sensation. So the technique (I can now speak like an expert :-) ) is to keep the approach speed steady and twiddle with the throttle to keep on the glide slope. Resist the temptation to change the glide slope with the elevators.

For practice I saved a flight on the base leg so I could drill the landing over and over without having to fly around the pattern each time. I resisted doing this for a while, because it felt like cheating. Which is pretty silly, when you think about it. I guess this is evidence of the little fantasy most of us cherish, the one that says "Hey, I could do this in real life! See, I do everything like a real pilot would." But I have to make concessions, because time flies more than I do.

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