When to manage the throttle?

Vance

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This is a somewhat tedious post about a fine point in flight training so if that is not your interest you can stop reading now.

In my current syllabus I teach pitch for speed and throttle for altitude. After an hour long briefing I give the learner all the controls three minutes into their first flight and help them sort it out.

We go out to my practice area and do turns around a point; left and right and S turns over a road.

The goal is plus or minus ten knots and plus or minus 100 feet of altitude.

Even if they don’t meet the standards we typically come back to the airport in about an hour, I demonstrate a landing and have the learner try a landing where I have the throttle and the pedals and the learner has the cyclic. Their job is to manage the aircraft over the centerline and round out and flare at the correct rate and time. I talk them through the approach, round out and flare.

I recently had a particularly stubborn learner with no aviation experience that insisted throttle was for speed and the cyclic was for altitude. This is a common misunderstanding as it is how the throttle works in an automobile.

I did as I often do, I took the throttle and he just managed the cyclic.

With most of my clients the use of the controls is an ongoing challenge and things begin to work for them when they truly understand that throttle is for altitude and pitch is for airspeed. The more they have their eyes away from the instruments the sooner this becomes their reality.

I am wondering if we would be better off just giving them the cyclic until we were much further along in the syllabus perhaps laying a more solid foundation.

I recently helped a learner with over 100 hours of dual instruction with five flight instructors get his Private Pilot, Rotorcraft-Gyroplane rating and the day before I signed him off he still believed he could not descend without lowering the nose.

As a high time pilot it is sometimes hard to remember the learning process so I am particularly interested in what low time gyroplane pilots feel about this.

Please help me to become a better flight instructor by sharing your thoughts.
 

Tyger

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I recently helped a learner with over 100 hours of dual instruction with five flight instructors get his Private Pilot, Rotorcraft-Gyroplane rating and the day before I signed him off he still believed he could not descend without lowering the nose.
On the day you signed him off, had you managed to convince him that what he believed the day before (and the 100 hours before) was erroneous?
Did you do any night training with him? Just curious.
 

Vance

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On the day you signed him off, had you managed to convince him that what he believed the day before (and the 100 hours before) was erroneous?
Did you do any night training with him? Just curious.
A good question Tyger and I am never sure.

The signs of his confusion were subtle and he would look me in the eye and say he understood how the throttle and the cyclic worked prior to my taking the controls separately and showing him that he couldn’t speed up with power if I had the cyclic and he could not help but descend if I pulled the power.

It was an unusual situation as he had so much dual instruction with such a variety of instructors.

When I investigate accidents it appears to me most are because the accident pilot misused the controls.

It is my observation that when things get critical people often revert to what is in their heart rather than what they understand intellectually.

He had already done his night cross country so I only had him for day VFR.

I have a student for Private Pilot, Rotorcraft-Gyroplane now and we will have to do a night cross country of over fifty miles total distance and ten takeoffs and landings to a full stop that involve a flight in the pattern. 61.109 d.
 

WaspAir

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One of the nice things about glider (sailplane) training is that there is no throttle and no altitude control in free flight. You have a stick for pitch, it sets airspeed, and there is no doubt about it. When you fly through sinking air, your nose is down; when you climb in rising air, your nose is down, too. If you pull back on the stick you go slower and if you push forward you go faster, whether climbing or descending. It's wonderfully simple. I really wish we could start everybody in sailplanes, or that "gyrogliders" could reach enough altitude for airspeed practice in an untowed descent from above pattern altitude. The closest we can get is simulation by taking away one control.
 

DavePA11

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I recently helped a learner with over 100 hours of dual instruction with five flight instructors get his Private Pilot, Rotorcraft-Gyroplane rating and the day before I signed him off he still believed he could not descend without lowering the nose.
Wow, after 100 hours of training and still not understand the basics? That could be challenging for instructors.
 

Tyger

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Ya, that's why I was wondering why Vance thought he was finally OK to be signed off.
I feel sure that he will elaborate. :)
 
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fara

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Wow, after 100 hours of training and still not understand the basics? That could be challenging for instructors.
Flying isn't for everyone. Gyroplane or rotorcraft flying is for even fewer. Fundamentals/basics not sewn into your psyche structurally will eventually create accidents. Some get it in 20 and some in 200. Hours don't measure anything though I think/feel to have confidence a minimum number is required
 

Vance

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Ya, that's why I was wondering why Vance thought he was finally OK to be signed off.
I feel sure that he will elaborate. :)
The reason I mentioned the learners confusion after 100 hours of dual and five flight instructors was to point out that is not just me that has a challenge with teaching the basics of how a gyroplane flies.

It is not unusual when giving a flight review for the pilot to lower the nose to descend.

Every gyroplane flight instructor I know has several ways to demonstrate power for altitude and pitch for air speed because of the resistance to the concept based on a learners experience with automobiles.

In this case I gave the learner all the controls but the throttle and told him to keep her level as I reduced the power because it addressed his particular confusion which was the nose must be lowered first to descend. As expected we descended with the nose high and higher simply made us descend faster.

Several times after that when we needed to descend he did it without putting the nose down first.

It can be confusing because when flying near minimum power required lowering the nose will reduce altitude.

Learners want to use the controls in concert and that is what I want them to do after they get more experience and truly understand what the controls do.

It is my observation that most people cannot fly to practical test standards flying most gyroplanes until they have a reasonable grasp of these concepts.

Despite his recent confusion and somewhat adverse weather conditions the applicant passed his Private Pilot, Rotorcraft-Gyroplane practical test with Dayton Dabbs, a designated pilot examiner that I recommend for his skill and thoroughness.

I agree with Abid that the fundamentals are important particularly when things aren’t going well. It doesn’t take a very long look at accident reports to confirm this.

I have only had to suggest a different hobby to one learner and I feel if a person can learn to fly a gyroplane with one eye and a traumatic brain injury at 57 years old it can’t be that difficult to learn.

In my opinion the practical test standards are there to ensure that the applicant understands these principles.

Recognition and recovery from low airspeed and a high rate of descent particularly address the fantasy that the cyclic is the up lever.

Airspeed and altitude standards also test this knowledge of the basics.
 

DavePA11

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Vance - How many hours of solo did this student have before sign off?

For me, I tend to continue to learn and refine skills when soloing without the security blanket of an instructor, but of course with the basics to not get in trouble.

Have some good "ah ha" moments when soloing such as first solo take-off with Sportcopter M912 having the nose aggressively popping up on take-off and not over controlling by push stick forward to a point where the nose touches down again.

Another 'ah ha" moment was not to let go of the stick on take-off to wave to friends watching from the ground unless you have good grip from other hand or a trim system (this would be good for instructors to cover).

Vance - If I have opportunity to buy another gyro it would be great to will fly out to CA, and get some additional training with you to see if I can pass the practical test standards as part of a BFR.
 
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Vance

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Vance - How many hours of solo did this student have before sign off?

For me, I tend to continue to learn and refine skills when soloing without the security blanket of an instructor, but of course with the basics to not get in trouble.

Have some good "ah ha" moments when soloing such as first solo take-off with Sportcopter M912 having the nose aggressively popping up on take-off and not over controlling by push stick forward to a point where the nose touches down again.

Another 'ah ha" moment was not to let go of the stick on take-off to wave to friends watching from the ground unless you have good grip from other hand or a trim system (this would be good for instructors to cover).

Vance - If I have opportunity to buy another gyro it would be great to will fly out to CA, and get some additional training with you to see if I can pass the practical test standards as part of a BFR.
I don’t remember. At the time I checked that he had met the minimum requirements which are ten hours of solo including a cross country flight of at least a hundred nautical miles total distance and three takeoffs and landings at an airport with an operating control tower. It seems to me he had more than the minimums.

You bring up a good point about solo time.

Often the learning accelerates with solo time; as it did with me.

It is hard to know when to cut a learner loose.

It is difficult for the flight instructor to let go of the times the instructor has said “MY AIRCRAFT!”

You are the first I have heard of letting go of the cyclic on takeoff Dave. I recommend against it.
 

DavePA11

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In a Piper Cub fixed wing I can change hands without any impact of flight with a brief second with no hands on the stick, but not at all possible with the SC that I flew without trim system. It did a significant nose down. I stopped waving to people after that. :)
 

Doug Riley

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Hollywood adds to the non-pilot's impression that the stick is the up-lever. Movies usually show back stick/yoke producing a climb (if not a loop!). Maybe this happens because a movie is a visual medium, and moving the big central thingy is more dramatic then pushing the small throttle. (The throttle knob in a G.A. airplane is especially disappointing as a dramatic device; it looks like a vent knob.)

In gyros, vertical descents are powerful proof that back stick isn't up. I used to have a student follow me on the controls through a vertical, in every intro lesson I gave.

We returned to these maneuvers later, when the student would practice them.
 

fara

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Its not only gyroplanes where you reduce power to descend while trying to maintain same airspeed with stick. Its the same concept in trikes and the same in airplanes. Beyond sloppy technique and laziness, that's the way in all these categories in 1 G flight
Obviously there is some connection between power and speed because of moment coupling in all aircraft but by far power controls altitude, excess thrust produces climb rate, stick controls airspeed. If you don't understand this and react this way naturally even when distracted, be ready to one day have an expensive lesson if you are lucky or worse get hurt no matter if you fly gyroplanes, airplanes or trikes.
I had a trike pilot who sold his trike and started to take lessons from me for gyroplanes and when I would tell him to slow down, he would reduce the power. All I could think of was how he became a trike pilot?
 
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fara

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In a Piper Cub fixed wing I can change hands without any impact of flight with a brief second with no hands on the stick, but not at all possible with the SC that I flew without trim system. It did a significant nose down. I stopped waving to people after that. :)

You should have adjusted your trim mechanism I think and don't let go of the control stick on takeoff :)
 

DavePA11

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Yeah - the SC I had didn't have trim system, and I think its good to have a trim system for safety. An example of being use to controls flying one aircraft which will bite you flying a different aircraft.

Fara - maybe he didn't fly often and then got into bad habbits?
 

N447MR

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I have only had to suggest a different hobby to one learner and I feel if a person can learn to fly a gyroplane with one eye and a traumatic brain injury at 57 years old it can’t be that difficult to learn.

In my opinion the practical test standards are there to ensure that the applicant understands these principles.

Recognition and recovery from low airspeed and a high rate of descent particularly address the fantasy that the cyclic is the up lever.

Airspeed and altitude standards also test this knowledge of the basics.
When people ask me how hard it is to fly a gyro I usually say it depends on whether or not you can understand how it works. That's not a technical, proper physics type of understanding I'm talking about. I think, like several had said, you have to be able to "feel" how it works, it has to be part of you. If you get it, it isn't hard, but if you have to learn it and force yourself to accept it, you could have a problem. There are technical things to know so you don't kill yourself of course, but sometimes trying to use words to explain, and then demonstrate the same causes confusion for folks as they try to make words fit the experience. Some can do that some can't.

It is a known and proven fact that people who are actually good at things tend to not think themselves special for it, and so they think others should be able to get it just as easy. Usually people to brag and think themselves special at something are not as good as they think they are. These folks also tell others how hard it is to do the thing they think they're good at.
 

grevis

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As a recent helicopter student I picked up on something from a very experienced helicopter instructor (he was a 24k hour pilot). When he was having students start to take a long time to grasp something he realized that he needed to approach the thing they were having difficulty with in a different way to get through to them.
For example, he told me he had a helicopter student that could hold a perfectly steady hover, but as soon as he told them to land it would turn into a mess. Getting nowhere fast one day he instructed them to do a 'descending hover', next thing perfect landing. Just had to get the student over that hurdle in their mindset.
 

anthom

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I try and get the students to hold a particular airspeed with the cyclic, usually 60 mph, through all maneuvers of climb, descent and turns, with combinations of turns/climbs and descends maintaining constant airspeed. That's how I was taught. They seem to get a better grasp of throttle control. It works well IMHO.
 

Vance

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Thank you Tony that is how I am teaching too.

In the Predator we do everything at 50kts.

Do you give them all the controls to do this?

As I continue on my flight instructor adventure I reinforce that each learner is different.

I am going to try introducing the controls one at a time and see how it works out.

This is primarily about the first few hours of dual although the foundation we lay affects the entire learning process.

I have been explaining the controls on the ground and then in their first flight I give them all the controls.

I may dedicate a flight to separate use of the throttle and the cyclic.

It is simply a matter of priorities and teaching style.

I try not to project my gyroplane learning style onto my clients.

I have done more than one flight review where the applicant did not understand the flight controls and as I analyze accidents it appears to me that a misunderstanding of the flight controls is often a contributing factor.
 
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