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Pingbox

New Member
Hello everyone! I have been a long time peruser if this forum, since I was in high school. I am currently in Primary and just wrapping up the 4200 block of contacts.

I did well in sims, and all my instructors have said I have great knowledge and clean procedures. However, my PEL and landing pattern is definitely below average. I have yet to land the T6 in my own and am about to start the C4300 block. At what point should I start to “get it?”

I have talked to my flight leader and they have said just keep chairflying and it’ll come. Can’t help but feel worried/tinge discouraged as my checkride is in four flights and peers have all seemed to get it. I definitely know the FTI procedures cold, I just can’t make it happen... yet! I have a hard time maintaining altitude and airspeed (oscillating) and visually seeing the track needed to fly the approach turn. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
 

Ken_gone_flying

"I live vicariously through myself."
pilot
Contributor
I have talked to my flight leader and they have said just keep chairflying and it’ll come. Can’t help but feel worried/tinge discouraged as my checkride is in four flights and peers have all seemed to get it. I definitely know the FTI procedures cold, I just can’t make it happen... yet! I have a hard time maintaining altitude and airspeed (oscillating) and visually seeing the track needed to fly the approach turn. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
If you're starting the C4300 block and can't fly a PEL to a landing on your own, you're behind. I recommend that on the next two flights, tell your instructors in the brief. Ask them for their techniques. Maybe one of them will have a technique that will make it click for you. At the very least, they'll know you need to spend more time on that during the flights. Be honest and proactive, don't try to hide your problem. There are about 30 instructors walking the halls on a given day. Find one that's not flying, go talk to the SDO. The more IPs you talk to, the better. Every IP will have something different to say and one may know how to help you. Focus on getting help in order to succeed on the checkride. Get in the sim and prof sit. If you can figure it out in the sim, the plane is no different. Good luck!
 
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Pingbox

New Member
Thank you sir, I will definitely bring it up in my brief. I have brought it up to all my instructors in the offwing block. I have definitely been trying to get in on a profsit, but they are pretty hard to get if you’re not in line a couple hours early, as there are typically only 3 or so a day. A little unlucky as I’m in the air when the schedule comes out. I will continue to seek help to succeed on my checkride
 
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SynixMan

Staff Life
pilot
Contributor
I would say you're normal to slightly behind. Some studs don't really "get it" on the ELP until the 4300 block. You should be back with your onwing in the 4300 block, ask him/her for more tries at it and talk through it.
 
Set the gouge power setting and pitch for airspeed in the pattern, adjust as needed. In the approach turn have a point on the ground that represents the groove and fly to it in a curve. I think people over think that part. Once in the groove, nose to the numbers and get to your final airspeed (110/105/100). For the ELP landing you should be aiming uncomfortably short of the runway then "smoothing it out" as you approach. Not sure if this is helpful at all but feel free to DM me with questions
 

Pingbox

New Member
Thank you. I will try to get in the profsit and try to fly the pattern more consistently and not chase the needles on the downwind
 

Hopeful Hoya

Well-Known Member
Contributor
The other things I would do is pop your head into your squadron skeds office and ask them if there’s any way they can schedule you for a practice sim. They get access to the open slots before they’re released to the profsit list, and when I was stashed in there we would regularly hard schedule students for practice sims if they were having trouble or needed some extra practice. (Run this by your onwing or class advisor first as your squadron might do things differently)
 

HungryHippo

New Member
The sims don't quite get the drag characteristics of the T-6B right when in a dirty configuration. In the sim with 4–6% tq and gear down flaps TO (like at low key) you set 5 deg nose down to hold 120 kias. In the airplane its 10 deg nose down. Its a big difference in descent rate and really changes how you have to fly the plane (need more AOB and/or start the turn to base key sooner to stay on profile in the plane). If you spend too much time getting good at the sim it can be tough to figure out the plane because of these differences (at least it was for me). The next time you practice in the sim set flaps landing at low key instead of flaps takeoff and that should do a much better job simulating the airplane.

Hope this helps and wasn't too late, good luck. Hopeful's advice is excellent--instructors can get practice sims whenever they want so ask your onwing to get you one and if you tell him what youre struggling with he/she should even offer to help you figure it out.
 

sickboy

Well-Known Member
pilot
I did well in sims, and all my instructors have said I have great knowledge and clean procedures. However, my PEL and landing pattern is definitely below average. I have yet to land the T6 in my own and am about to start the C4300 block. At what point should I start to “get it?”
What parts are you having trouble with? Hitting the profile? Recognizing that you're off profile? Transition to landing? Other?
 

Pingbox

New Member
I'm having the most trouble with the turn to final and the landing transition. Getting to high key is also giving me a bit of trouble, but once im in the ELP I can kind of figure it out. Recently failed my 4304 flight at Whiting and got my first pink sheet cause of my inability. Coming back the end of this week or next to do it again.
 

Jim123

DD-214 in hand and I'm gonna party like it's 1998
pilot
What's wrong with your low key? Are you tight or wide? High or low? Fast or slow? The whole pattern is like a curving funnel, each checkpoint gets you to the next checkpoint but it's tough for most students to get any good at it. Don't forget that passing the checkride at this point is to get safely to the runway- so don't be afraid to make a positive correction with power when it's required. Very, very few students have the skill or luck to fly a perfect pattern and most IPs would rather sign off a student who flies an imperfect pattern but positively corrects the trends and flies the airplane to a safe touchdown... a lot of students tend to let the plane smoothly fly off profile because the winds are a little different than yesterday or they have the airplane slightly out of trim but don't realize it (again, the skill level and luck at this point).

From what I remember, the most common of the common errors along with some techniques:
  • A lot of students hit high key altitude when the airplane is actually just short of being over the runway (rather than 1/3 of the way down and offset no more than 1/4 wingtip), then they drop the gear right then and lose even more energy. But this is easy to correct- with power just like the FTI says (gun the engine for a few seconds and then reset the PCL to zero thrust/4-6% torque)
  • A lot of students get slow because the nose attitude and sight picture at zero thrust is slightly below the horizon, as opposed to what they're used to seeing in the downwind of a normal pattern (nose slightly above the horizon). So they subconsciously set a "normal" nose attitude and the airplane sort of fizzles along and gets slow, which also makes the glide angle a lot worse while you're gliding to high key.
The nose attitude needs to get progressively lower as you configure the airplane around the pattern (adding more drag with gear and flaps). Don't forget that the CTS is +10/-0 knots, so you should be at least 125 knots until high key (nose needs to be about 1° down in that glide) and at least 120 around the pattern (nose needs to go about 1° lower or a bit more when you drop the gear, then about that much lower as you set takeoff flaps at low key). Don't be afraid to push it just a touch lower than that if you need to regain lost airspeed. But don't stare at the PFD, scan it briefly and then look back outside to your ground track. Whenever you add power to correct lost energy, the nose will want to pitch up because that's what the T-6 does; as you take that power correction out then don't forget to point the nose back where it needs to be (power, attitude, trim) and trim out the control pressures (rudder, elevator, aileron... usually just elevator in this case).
- More students fly a tight pattern than too wide. There are a few techniques to keep it on track, although any technique will only get you most of the way there. There is a "10-20-30" gouge (10° bank from high key until either crossing the runway or hitting the "cross key" unofficial checkpoint, 20° until low key, the 30° until final). There is also that low key and abeam are basically the same checkpoint, but you smoothly stay in the turn at low key (instead of flying straight for a few more seconds to the 180). Base key should not be as deep as the normal 90, although it is laterally the same distance from runway centerline (both turns to final, normal and ELP, are nominally a 30° angle of bank turn). The final is shorter with the ELP.
There is some gouge about eyeballing a desired low key checkpoint, about 3/4 wingtip at the moment you hit high key with the wings level. The problem with that is you might not exactly hit high key on profile or with the wings perfectly level, but it's a reasonable estimate.
You can also judge a decent low key checkpoint by looking at whatever landmark is 4,000-5,000' abeam your intended landing point. Since all of the solo fields have 5,000' runways, you can use the runway for an imaginary measuring stick at any time. If there is a really distinct barn or a field that is not exactly below low key then just visually offset that landmark... pretty easy.
There is the low key "wing flash" to double check 2/3 wingtip distance (2/3 at 1,500' is about the same as 3/4-1 wingtip at 800') but the problem with that is it burns about 100-200' of altitude to do that wing flash; sometimes that's gonna cost you depending on the winds but other times when the winds are dead calm all the way down then it can be just the right technique. Again, don't be shy to correct with power if you end up below profile.
Inside of base key to final, there is the "point the nose at the grass short of the runway" technique. What that means is at base key then make the aimpoint just short of the runway threshold, scan airspeed for current airspeed and trend, and configure takeoff flaps to landing flaps accordingly. If you happen to hit base key a bit low or there is a strong headwind then this is the one time that it is okay to delay setting landing flaps (it used to be okay to land with just the takeoff flaps... double check the current FTI and MPTS/curriculum guide). On the other hand, if you have extra energy then your rapidly accelerating airspeed tape will make that very obvious- and of course set landing flaps accordingly to manage that energy. If you're too low then, again, correct with power (just a burst) and fly the airplane back onto the profile- for a safe landing.
The downside to that "aim for the grass" technique is some people take it a little too literally and we've had airplanes touchdown in the grass, short of the runway (um, yeah... so don't), so understand that it's a technique for base key until about wings level on short final- and when you're on profile then the airplane has exactly enough energy to carry it to the touchdown zone on the runway.
  • Fly the airplane all to the touchdown and the rollout, don't just chop and pray at 10' over the runway... please.
  • When you do make power corrections, resetting that zero thrust (4-6% torque) is important but it's not the only thing. Try to do it quickly and accurately but don't let it distract you from flying a good ground track and setting a good nose attitude. If you notice your torque is 2-3% or 7-8% then just nudge the PCL with your fingertips or your thumb. Some people can set it accurately by feel, some like to pull the PCL back to the idle stop and then quickly move it forward about a "fist width" or less, some will pull it back until some arbitrary number, freeze the PCL, and then let the engine settle down from there... just whatever works for you.
  • Don't let yourself make basic procedural errors, especially delaying configuration (that's the procedure for forced landing/engine failure with no restart, but the procedure for precautionary landing is to correct with power), forgetting the landing checklist, or messing up the profile while doing the landing checklist (aviate... navigate, communicate).
None of those techniques will make for a perfect pattern and a few of them could actually make the pattern worse if you apply them too rigidly, but they shed a lot of light on the details of this maneuver.

"Safe" = "Fair" < "Good"


Anyway, you already know all this stuff. Your owning, flight leader, and offwing IPs have shown you most or all of it during several flights. Chairfly, stake out the practice sim signup sheet, talk to your instructors and fellow students, and take care of yourself (rest, food, PT).

My record for PPELs was eight in one day on an aero out-and-in (eight full PPEL profiles, not counting the pattern PPELs). People dumber than you have passed and can knock this one out.
 
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