Day Off

by Berck

I’ve got today off.

I woke up this “morning” at about noon when housekeeping tried to get in my room. Seems I forgot the Do Not Disturb sign last night. They quickly gave up and I went back to sleep until about 3pm. I’ve been having really weird dreams, I’m not sure if it’s a result of the sleep schedule or the mind blender that is the simulator, or some combination of both.

It seems there was another earthquake last night at about 12:40am, but I’m sure I would have just attributed it to turbulence in the simulator if I felt it.

So far I’ve now done a total of 4 official sim lessons, plus we got a couple of extra hours as a result of the sim being free yesterday afternoon after a couple of captain upgrades didn’t need their entire 4 hour block.

We used the extra time to go through some demonstration maneuvers that we had to accomplish, but weren’t really graded on. Things like a Dutch rolls with and without a yaw damper, double engine failure, wind shear escape maneuvers… It was a fun and more relaxing lesson, especially since it was lucky extra time. At the end of it, our instructor hopped in the captain’s seat and we buzzed around New York, skimming central park at a few hundred feet, buzzing the statue of liberty, down the Hudson, up the east river. The visuals aren’t perfect, but are still pretty cool. They only 3-d modeled some of the big buildings, so it doesn’t look quite right. They did a decent job on the statue of liberty. Manhattan has about two dozen 3d buildings, the rest are flat and are just overhead views. The instructor was like, “The Met’s not there!” I found it and pointed at it, “There it is, it’s just flat.” “Man, it looks like someone squished it.”

Last night’s lesson we spent a fair amount of time with single engine emergency procedures. Rob had a pretty hard time with V1 engine failures. The engine quits while you’re still on the ground, which produces a yaw in one direction or another. You have to hold rudder to counteract, and take off. If you do it right, the amount of rudder you’re holding on the ground is about what you need on takeoff, then you can reduce it as the aircraft accelerates. If you screw it up and start over correcting like Rob was, then you get some really nasty oscillations because it’s a fast swept-wing aircraft. These skills are very different from the multi-engine procedures we’re used to in light twins.

I didn’t have trouble with the V1 cuts. My best 20 minutes in the sim was an engine flameout with core lock at V1. I got the plane going straight down the runway, rotated well before V2 and managed to stay more or less coordinated. I got the autopilot on (you still have to hold rudder, because it’s only a 2-axis autopilot), ran through the emergency procedures, and got us set up for the ILS back in. My autopilot failed as I intercepted the localizer, and so I had to fly the whole thing back in by hand. It was my best approach and landing yet. It’s really pretty easy as long as you follow the flight director and make small corrections. I managed to make a very smooth, though somewhat long, touchdown, and got the airplane slowed down. Rob didn’t make the 80 or 60 knot calls which are my cues to stow the thrust reverser(s) and give the controls back. I glanced down and we were below 40 knots. “You’ve got the flight controls,” I told him. “Oh, sorry, I was just amazed at how beautiful that landing was, I wasn’t paying attention.”

On the other hand, I still suck at the stall series. I just can’t manage to get the airplane to do what I want it to do. There are huge pitch changes in response to thrust changes, and swept wing t-tail jets with engines on the tail just aren’t happy about stalls. Rob is very good at the stalls, but hasn’t gotten single-engine stuff down yet.

We’ve still got 4 sim sessions before the check ride, so I think we should actually be able to do it by then. I hope. I’m also still a bit worried about the non-precision approaches and landings–there’s so much to do as the flying pilot, and it happens so quickly.

After I’d stopped us on the runway after my last landing, the instructor pointed out some traffic about 20 feet over the runway, flying toward us. It was a great surrealist moment as we realized it was a fire truck. Flying over the runway. “Did you say you needed fire trucks for the engine flameout?” he asked. I was laughing too hard to answer. It seems that the sim has several vehicle models programmed in for traffic, but doesn’t distinguish between which traffic can fly and which traffic can’t.

I’m finishing up some laundry, and Rob and I are going to take a bus down to an Indian place by the airport, which I hope will be yummy…

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