When to manage the throttle?

Housedr

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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.
Vance- i’m always interested in your insight in posts.
I would expect there is a vast difference between peoples mechanical understanding and oast experience with engines in general.
For me, it was quite natural.
Coupling the relationship only needed to be suggested once. Like you, I have vast engine experience with gokart raving, motorcycle racing, father owning a motorcycle shop etc.
For someone that has no feel it may be quite different.
I have been behind people in a car, climbing a hill and they appear to not feel the relationship with the need to add more power for the car to maintain the same speed as they had before the hill.
Conversely that same person allows the car to accelerate way beyond reasonable on the descent.
They probably have been driving for years without consequence outside of pissing everyone off behind them.
I suspect that there will never be a cookie cutter procedure that fits everyone.
You will know who you have pretty quickly and will do as you have been doing for years, adjusting for the student until they get it.
Thats why some of us take 20 hours and some take 40.
If in the end, you have signed off pilots who accomplish overcoming their own limitations with understanding and competence , you have done your job well.
Keep up the blog. It does newbees good
 
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At 50 knots, what rpm are you indicating on your Lycoming?

I have spent my life as a photographer. During the 48 years behind the lens, I did my share of aerial photography. In a Cessna 172, I would set my throttle and trim for my best rate of climb. This was 65-70 indicated with no more than 10 degrees of flaps. When she settled down, I had about 2100 rpm.

This way I had at least 500 rpm of power to grab if I needed to do so. The best rate of climb and the best glide is about the same in most single engine fixed wing aircraft. The engine and the wing is loafing and well above stall. if something were to happen engine wise, I the aircraft was already configured for best glide and one less thing to worry about or have to do.

100 more rpm would give me 100 fpm up. 100 less rpm would give me 100 rpm down. All the the same airspeed and trim. It was a nice place to be and the aircraft was very predictable.

Is 50 knots your best glide also in the Predator?
 

Vance

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At 50 knots, what rpm are you indicating on your Lycoming?

Is 50 knots your best glide also in the Predator?
At 50kts straight and level I may be showing anything from 1,900 engine rpm to 2,300 engine rpm with 2,150 being typical.

When I tested and wrote the POH

Vx is 46kts.

Vy is 49kts.

Vbg with the prop stopped may be closer to 44kts.

It changes with the weather and loading.
 
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Thanks. My propeller is pitched to give a maximum velocity of 88 mph At 2700 rpm theoretical. I know this is not achievable But I hope to be able to see 70 or more at 2500. I have not any idea what other open framed machines such as the Snow Bird or Dominators indicate at max power, straight and level flight. Human comfort levels on a machine with no windscreens, for me, is 55-65 mph. Big grins and bugs in teeth speed. Velocity big grin ( Vbg )
 

Resasi

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Vance, quite true that teaching style alter with the student.

I would say however that the co-ordinated use of controls was always the way I taught, though yes, the separation of function of stick and throttle does have to be demonstrated.

It is something that was perhaps more noticeable in jets due to the lag in spool up time in turbines, rather that the instant reaction in piston engines. On the approach power governs the rate of descent, pitch the airspeed...though of course, they both do have effects on their associated parameters when applied, in this case rate of descent and airspeed, though as secondary rather that primary effects.

It is getting the student to realise that there is always this blurring of effect that cause their confusion.

A good exercise is to ask the student to set up a descent of 500 ft/min and hold 55kts, an average glide slope descent.

When this is established, ask them to increase power slightly but to continue to maintain 55 kts. This will involve the use of both throttle initially and pitch. When established back at the target speed of 55Kts it can be seen that the rate of descent has decreased.

Yes the pitch was altered, after the reduction of power during this exercise..but why?

To govern the speed!

What happened to the rate of descent, it decreased, why? Because the power was increased.

Do the same exercise for climb, at a constant airspeed.

If he sets a power that will result in a climb, and the stick is used to maintain the given airspeed, the climb rate, when it steadies, show that the rate of climb is governed by the throttle.

Hope this makes sense.
 
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Vance

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Vance, quite true that teaching style alter with the student.

I would say however that the co-ordinated use of controls was always the way I taught, though yes, the separation of function of stick and throttle does have to be demonstrated.

It is something that was perhaps more noticeable in jets due to the lag in spool up time in turbines, rather that the instant reaction in piston engines. On the approach power governs the rate of descent, pitch the airspeed...though of course, they both do have effects of their associated parameters when applied, in this case rate of descent and airspeed, though as secondary rather that primary effects.

It is getting the student to realise that there is always this blurring of effect that cause their confusion.

A good exercise is to ask the student to set up a descent of 500 ft/min and hold 55kts, an average glide slope descent.

When this is established, ask them to increase power slightly but to continue to maintain 55 kts. This will involve the use of both throttle initially and pitch. When established it can be seen that the rate of descent has decreased.

Yes the pitch was altered, after the reduction of power during this exercise..but why?

To govern the speed!

What happened to the rate of descent, it decreased, why? Because the power was increased.

Do the same exercise for climb, at a constant airspeed.

If he sets a power that will result in a climb, and the stick is used to maintain the given airspeed, the climb rate, when it steadies, show that the rate of climb is governed by the throttle.

Hope this makes sense.
Thank you for a well written cogent response Leigh.

I find when I describe teaching without the context it reads insipid and tedious.

Flight instruction is such an interactive and dynamic process that I cannot find the words to describe it properly.

Your words do a much better job than mine and of course ending with questions is the proper way to debrief.

Not just what but also why?
 
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During the time I was working on my instrument rating, another student who was working on his private ticket was going through his third instructor who predecessors had given up in frustration. The student in question simply could not get the concept of a coordinated turn. He was already in triple digits of dual instruction.

Steve, the third flight instructor took on the challenge of this student and soon faced the impasse which has caused the others to flee.

It has been said if the student fails to learn, it is the teachers fault because everyone learns differently. The teacher must find that sometimes elusive approach. Steve believed this and on the next lesson he had the student climb to 5k’ to an area of uncongested airspace, where he pumped classical music through the students headphones and said ”fly.”

For an hour they climbed, dipped, flew and fell to the music. Steve kept him out of trouble and at some point during this experience, the student got the concept of the coordinated turn.

We do all learn differently at different rates and by different means. The mind is not prepared to learn until the question is ask. Every lesson must be taught as if it is the first and with that same enthusiasm. Every lesson must be presented in a form which begs curiosity. When the question is asked then the dance begins. That wonderful dance is of course is the exchange of knowledge.
 
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DavePA11

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Humm.. Triple digits of instruction and still not get the simple concept of coordinated turn? Is this student pilot still alive? Sorry, some people should not be flying… I have seen this first hand. I agree people learn differently, but there are some activities not all people should be doing…
 
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Humm.. Triple digits of instruction and still not get the simple concept of coordinated turn? Is this student pilot still alive? Sorry, some people should not be flying… I have seen this first hand. I agree people learn differently, but there are some activities not all people should be doing…
Full disclosure. He was an immigrant and I am not sure if he even had a car before he came to the United States. He was wealthy and had an older brother who was a pilot. There was considerable sibling rivalry at play. He did go on to get his private SEL plus purchase a Cessna 172. It wasn’t long before the plane sat idle and eventually sold. This flying thing was not for him obviously. The good news is he did not crash and kill him self or anyone else.
 

DavePA11

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Glad it sat idle and he is still alive! I have many friends from different countries, and by far more of my friends with interest in flying who actually get their pilots license are from Brazil. Not sure why though. I think it’s very expensive to learn to fly in Brazil.

Thinking about it, very few of my friends from other countries have any interest in flying. They are all engineers like myself and they always figure out the cost then decide against it since it’s not practical. Funny, whenever someone expresses interest in flying and starts with justifying it based on cost It usually ends up not for them…

I arranged a team event once and went sky diving. We all had a great time except one of our engineers from another country with limited outdoor experience sprained both of his legs when he landed in a split. Ouch… I got in a lot of trouble with that event. :)
 
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When I stated he did not have a car, I was implying that his experience with driving an automobile was limited. I feel perhaps wrongly that people who have not been exposed to machinery are at a disadvantage when it comes to mechanical concepts and even to a lesser degree hand-eye coordination.

Also I believe some, perhaps engineers such as yourself, have the ability to visualize mechanisms in the mind, turn them around and somewhat understand how they work. We take this for granted but there are members of my family and coworkers whose minds do not function in this manner. I certainly don’t understand their minds..I believe it takes a bit of such type of thinking to become or even be interested in becoming a pilot.

One the other hand I know of many pilots when ask if the wing of the aircraft they are flying has a turbulent flow or a laminar flow airfoil and they have no clue. I don’t get that.

I guess I am in the category of the stick and rudder aerial pick-up driver sort of guy verses the Part 135/ATP who must comply to an accuracy and level of technology of arrival in a point in space/time which the participation in that segment of the industry demands.

But, while I have a deep interest in understanding the mechanism of the thing which I will be flying, glass cockpits and automation baffles and frustrates me. I expect that being forced to follow the thinking and the interface of a programmer/ designers rigidity does not fit me well. It could be how I was taught and the disruption of the “scan” and the non standard instrument layout has me searching for the data which in the past, I saw at a known position and glance on the panel.

I find no comfort nor trust in glass cockpits. Too many options on the menu. Too many settings which could overlooked. My cockpit management skills get overwhelmed pretty quickly. It could be me being left handed And right brained.

I much prefer the six instrument scan. Moving maps/ charts being the exception. Engine monitoring systems maybe another.

I can’t afford glass, much less the new slick glass aircraft anyway. For me it’s build it or be left out. Awwww hell maybe I had better take a second look. What can I interface with my Ipad eh?
 

Tyger

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Glad it sat idle and he is still alive! I have many friends from different countries, and by far more of my friends with interest in flying who actually get their pilots license are from Brazil. Not sure why though. I think it’s very expensive to learn to fly in Brazil.

Thinking about it, very few of my friends from other countries have any interest in flying. They are all engineers like myself and they always figure out the cost then decide against it since it’s not practical. Funny, whenever someone expresses interest in flying and starts with justifying it based on cost It usually ends up not for them…
I see a lot of planes that sit idle, and marvel at what the owners must spend on something they seem never to use. The cost seems certainly "not practical" in their cases.

I am curious which other countries your uninterested friends are from, and wonder how difficult it may be in those countries actually to fly with the sort of freedom (and the number of places to land) that we have here in the US. Even here it always amuses me when non-pilots say, "Do you really not have to tell anyone that you are going flying?" I say, "Well, I usually tell my wife".

 

DavePA11

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Tyger,

Interesting perspective. I have offered flying to all my friends who are very diverse, and very few have shown any interest except for my friends from Brazil and Germany. Most are afraid of flying in a small plane, but find those that ride motorcycles are often more willing to try flying.

I haven’t flown many people while here in Colorado mainly due to airport being so far away. Can’t wait to move back to the east coast.

Dave
 

chrisk

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Teaching pitch for speed and throttle for altitude is a reasonable approach at the beginning. Further along the student should begin to understand the equations is more complex. Pitch and altitude on one side of the equation. Speed and power on the other side. They should also understand the difference with being on the front side or the back side of the power curve.

To illustrate the point, consider slow flight, and in particular entry into slow flight. Assume the student starts at 65 mph and 1500 ft agl. How does the student hold altitude and slow to 35 or 40 mph? Yes the pitch changes. The power changes too, but the altitude doesn't change. It starts with reducing the power. Then using pitch to maintain altitude. Then restoring power plus some more. Once you have the speed at slow flight, you can use throttle to control the altitude.
 

Mayfield

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That's a very articulate explanation Chris.

We know, when we change either airspeed or altitude (without changing the other parameter) that we must change power and pitch and usually pedal as well.

The debate comes when people argue about which controls what.

To me it is simply: the control that is moved first is the primary causal tool.

If I want to accelerate while maintaining altitude, I advance the power lever first then, in a stable aircraft, I apply forward stick pressure and maybe a little right pedal if required. If I pushed forward on the stick first I would gain airspeed but lose altitude.

If I want to climb at a constant airspeed, I select a climb pitch attitude and adjust power as required to maintain the desired airspeed.

If power is fixed, or held constant, then clearly pitch controls airspeed.

In reality, the control inputs, although separable, are almost simultaneous.
 
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WaspAir

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It starts with reducing the power. Then using pitch to maintain altitude. Then restoring power plus some more. Once you have the speed at slow flight, you can use throttle to control the altitude.
One could just as validly say:

"It starts with increasing pitch. Then reduce the power to maintain altitude. Then restoring power plus some more . . ."

The difference is not in the control motions but in one's particular concept of what's happening, which is a mental attitude, not an aircraft attitude.
 

chrisk

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One could just as validly say:

"It starts with increasing pitch. Then reduce the power to maintain altitude. Then restoring power plus some more . . ."

The difference is not in the control motions but in one's particular concept of what's happening, which is a mental attitude, not an aircraft attitude.
Very true. That said, pitch tends to be a little more responsive (meaning faster acting) than power. Its why I start with a power reduction.
 
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