Flight Simulator Co-Pilot

by Charles Gulick

A Cessna Roller Derby

Republic Airport, Farmingdale, L.I., NY (Local)

NOTE: Use the parameters for “On a Roll,” on page 69, except change Altitude to 82, Heading to 80 and both Airspeed and Throttle to 0. We'll start this show on the ground.

Runway 10 is in front of you. And so are some new thrills. Wait until you see what your airplane can do!

We'll start with a slow roll on climb-out, a little more than 100 feet above the deck. This is how we do it:

Make your normal takeoff—10 degrees of flaps and trimmed up two notches; rotate with one notch up at 80 KIAS, then one notch down when you're airborne; dump your flaps as usual when climbing 500 FPM. Then, when you're climbing at 1000 FPM:

  1. Give two quick notches of up elevator.
  2. Apply full aileron in the direction you want to roll.
  3. When the horizon is near vertical, apply full down elevator.
  4. When the horizon is near vertical again, neutralize elevator.
  5. Center the ailerons as your wings come level. Continue your climb-out, reducing RPM to 2105 and fine-tuning your elevators for 500 FPM up.

How do you like that?

If you didn't get it right the first time, don't worry. That's the beauty of flying a simulator. Before long, you'll get the hang of it. And it's beautiful to do—well worth the practice.

Here are a few tips: Use your first three fingers for aileron and elevator control—the first and third for ailerons, and the one between for elevator. Hold the aileron where you put it by keeping your finger on the key; it's also a position reference. In Step 3, keep your elevator finger on the key until the elevator indicator bottoms, which happens pretty fast. But to neutralize, use a burst of quick notches up rather than steady pressure. The latter can cause you to pass neutral before you realize it, which, in turn, can pitch the nose up and cause the wing to stall. (Note that in an airplane it's the wing, not the engine, that “stalls.”)

If you're in an unnatural configuration when you come out of the roll, simply use your regular procedures to correct. If you perform the roll on takeoff well, you'll still see some of Runway 10 ahead of you.

Now, while you're climbing 500 FPM with your throttle set for 2105 RPM, do another roll. Execute it just as you did the prior one. Nice, hmmm?

Next, at about 1500 feet, reduce your power to 1905 RPM and get straight and level. Then take a straight back view and, holding that view, roll again the same way, using the same horizon references as control cues.

Does this airplane roll, or does this airplane roll? And how much more satisfying to do it knowing your own coordination and skills are making it happen, unlike those toy simulators which roll over and over simply by holding the aileron key down.

Over and over, I said, hmmm? Well, let's try that. Note your altitude before you start, then:

Follow the roll procedure described above through the first roll, but don't neutralize your aileron; hold it in whatever direction you're rolling. Do, however, use all the elevator control as for a single roll. The aircraft will continue past level and enter another roll (don't use two quick ups this time). Give the same full down elevator at the same position as for the first roll, and come back to neutral elevator as you roll out of Roll Two, neutralizing your aileron as the wings are about to come level.

(If you intend to try to roll twice simply by holding the first roll through a second one, please let me out of the airplane before you start either of them. Thank you.)

While we've been doing this, Piper has been practicing inverted flights, by rolling halfway and neutralizing. So now let's do that. Just go halfway through the roll you already (if you've practiced) know how to do, and neutralize your aileron—not your elevator—as you're about to become inverted. Then begin to bring your elevators up—but not too fast—to about the quarter position, depending on your relationship to the horizon.

When flying upside down, your controls seem to act in reverse, though actually they don't. It's your perception that's reversed. Because the sky is now below the horizon and the earth above it, to see more sky apply some down elevator, and to see more earth apply some up elevator. Try to get in balance—sort of upside down straight and level—and stay that way for a bit. Remember that your ailerons, too, will seem to act in reverse. When your instincts, unreliable as usual, tell you that you need right aileron, you need left aileron, and vice versa.

Eventually, if not now, a beautiful silence will descend. Your engine will quit, and it won't start again until you do another half roll, in either direction, to get the gas feeding from the wings again. That's the gravity of the situation. (This doesn't happen to Piper, by the way, because low-wing aircraft obviously can't depend on gravity for metering gas from the fuel tanks.)

Fuel starvation limits the amount of time you can lie on your back, but it's really nice while you are doing it, isn't it?

Do a half roll a few more times, and while you're inverted take views out various windows to see how different everything looks.

Now I have another challenge for you: Set up a 90-degree view out either side of the airplane. Then do a roll, using just your artificial horizon as a guide. You'll still have a horizon outside the airplane, but it isn't the right horizon, and you had better ignore it.

One more roll, and then we'll rejoin Piper. For this one, get into slowflight configuration. As I hope you know by now, slowflight from straight and level requires you to reduce power to 1505 RPM, then to apply six quick notches of up elevator in groups of two (two quick notches up—pause—then two more—pause again—and finally two more).

Let your airspeed settle down to about 70 KIAS, then be sure your altimeter registers at least 1500 feet. You will lose about 700 feet of altitude in this next roll.

The procedure to follow is almost the same as for the other rolls. The differences are that you'll use no up elevator before entering it and, when you neutralize, you'll return the elevator to its approximate slowflight position, which is about a notch and a quarter (on the elevator indicator) above operational neutral. Then, when you settle down you'll trim for straight and level and 70 KIAS.

Roll around to your heart's content now. Then we'll get Piper back in the picture and—we'll be off to sample the Scenery Disks.

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