Plane & Pilot
Monday, May 11, 2009

Ticket To Ride II

Part II: Practice, practice, practice, home study, and what? Time to solo already? Gulp.

ticket to rideIn our April 2009 issue, Jim Lawrence launched the first in his series of articles about LSA training in a Flight Design CTLS. This month, he takes us through solo.
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Flight Design’s CTLS , Jim Lawrence confidently progresses toward the sport pilot certificate.
The Long March
It has taken around 14 hours of dual to get here. New England weather and scheduling demons have spaced our flights over many weeks. Until a breakthrough day a ways back, I was still fighting the airplane, still a bit tense landing and, overall, more tentative than I expected to be. Expectation: like guilt, a waste of mind energy.

At least I’ve adapted to the curved-cowl sight picture. No more racing diagonally off the runway or flaring to land in an unintentional crab. But that sticky throttle lever continued to bug me. I couldn’t work it smoothly like Lampson, with his strong, guitar-plucking fingers. Curse you, rock-star CFI!

We’ve gone through the time-honored airwork: takeoffs and landings, pattern flying, approach and departure stalls, slow flight, turns about a point—the Full Monty of flight training. Any notions I’d had that sport pilot training would be a few duals, then an easy solo, XC and checkride, have long since been dispelled. For example, the CT’s excellent power-off glide still keeps fooling me into too-high approaches on final.

I’ve come to appreciate the CT for the stable, fast and slow, comfortable bird it is. It feels solid and secure in flight. Like many LSA, stall recovery is nominal: Just relax the stick forward or feed power, and you’re flying again. There’s plenty of near-stall force feedback through the stick, and no sharp wing falloff at the break. You have to work, in fact, to get it to break at all.

It’s becoming second nature to use my feet in this rudder-hungry bird. Less twitchy than its forebearers (CT2K and CTSW, with their shorter fuselages), the CTLS still likes lead rudder in and out of turns for controlling adverse yaw. It also needs a firm right foot for launch and ditto with the left when the power comes off.

The cool thing about learning to fly comes when you discover you’re doing things automatically, such as leading with rudder into a turn, that you had to think about in the beginning. Lampson has even taught me to keep wings level in slow flight using rudder only—no ailerons. That’s a great skill to hone.

The CTLS is still a slippery, aerodynamically sophisticated design, though. It can get away from you a bit if you try to muscle it around. Speed can build quickly with just a dip in the nose. In turbulence, you feel little bumps more acutely due to the minimally flexing carbon-fiber/composite airframe, so putting too much effort into keeping wings level can be tiring. Lampson’s quick fix: flip on the superb TruTrak autopilot, crank on the satellite radio and kick back…eyes always scanning for traffic, of course.


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