Cessna Pilot (n) [sess-nah | pahy-luht]. 1. Straight and level 2. Flat-footed– use of rudder optional 3. Fifteen-degree banks, gingerly, 30-degrees maximum, 45-degrees death wish; see also,student pilot, wimp, pre-Meynard neophyte.
The Cessna 152 is a sweet little thing under any circumstances, but a climb prop, upgraded engine, in-panel GPS, and other little goodies make flying it even more of a breezy joy.
It’s the most benign flying machine around — I joke with friends that it’s possible to crash a 152, but you have to work really hard at it.
So I guess I shouldn’t have been too surprised when Meynard, our aerobatic instructor, tried to put it into a spin… and it wouldn’t.
We tried twice, but 1513 simply will not spin!
So Meynard reached into his bag of tricks.
A snap roll, aeronautical wizardry that combines theatrics and violence, is ideal for air shows and dogfights. It was a favorite maneuver of Japanese master ace Saburo Sakai, who used it to evade opponents and get into attack position behind them before they knew what had happened.
A snap roll is basically a horizontal spin — power-on stall, then haul back on the stick, er, yoke, while stomping a rudder pedal of your choice. The plane twists into a violent aerodynamic contortion that ends with straight and level flight, or a classic spin, depending on what you did next.
Attempting to spin our Cessna Soda Can will cause it not to spin, but to sort of mush downwards in a lazy spiral, stall horn blaring. Snap-rolling it, however, brings a blood-curdling and frighteningly human shriek from the stall warning horn, and then the plane heeeeeeeels over and HEY, we’re in a spin!
Wait a minute. We’re in a SPIN! Aaaaiiieeeeee!
Meynard is relaxation itself. Reduce power, neutralize ailerons, opposite rudder, and elevator yourself back to sanity. It’s an easy routine for him — he can even come out of a spin on a specific heading.
He actually tells me to slow down and relax, and not add power too soon after the recovery – I have enough airspeed from the dive! Just relax, man.
I’m in the middle of a spin and he’s telling me to relax. This is great!
We do two or three of these before heading back. 1513 never skips a beat. I love that airplane!
The next landing is the 151st in my logbook. Not my best — too much lateral movement on touchdown. My last few landings were all perfect! It had to be the one with the master instructor on board… .
Dad is waiting for us as we taxi back and shut down.
Meynard opens the door and promptly tells him, “Well, he’s a maniac, just like you!” 😀
Dad goes utterly green with envy when he hears that we did snap rolls. He’s wanted to do that since forever! The next day, as he heads out for his own flight with Meynard, I ask him what his plans are.
“To have more fun than you!”
Later, he confides in me that Meynard says that I’m a natural and should teach. That is the highest compliment I have ever received from a fellow pilot. Wow!
The past couple of days added a new dimension to my understanding of flying. In the hours after my certification, I had begun to lapse into a mentality where I saw flight as a continuing equation, where you traded pitch for airspeed, RPMs for altitude, and luck for experience. It is, but it’s also far more than that.
The truly masterful pilot doesn’t just fly by the numbers, reliant on procedures and gauges.
He is not a slave to his flight plan or the needles on his control panel.
It’s the other way around.
At some point, the airplane becomes more than just a noisy equation. It becomes an extension of his mind and body. The change affects every part of a pilot’s flying; it is a
It’s given me a lot to think about, since a lot of flying’s lessons tend to be curiously applicable to life on the ground. My other dream, you see, apart from flying like Maverick in Top Gun, is to become a great English teacher.
Posted from Vigan, Bataan Day, April 9, 2009