by Charles Gulick
Long Ways Around
El Paso, TX Int'l to Las Cruces, NM Crawford
Scenery Disk 2.
North: 13423. East: 9814. Altitude: 3956. Pitch: 0. Bank: 0.
Heading: 80. Airspeed: 0. Throttle: 0. Rudder: 32767.
Ailerons: 32767. Flaps: 0. Elevators: 32767.
Time: 7:30. Season: 1. Cloud Layer 1: 20000, 18000.
Surface Wind: 4 kn., 250 deg.
Turn the airplane around so Runway 26R is ahead instead of behind you. The best way to execute a turn like this—a turn in place—is to apply fulaileron (or rudder if you're flying Reality mode) and then apply power. You can virtually turn on a dime.
Go into radar and zoom to the view that shows you all of El Paso, with I-10 going through it and the Rio Grande skirting its southern edge. They parallel one another north, and we're going to follow them to Las Cruces, New Mexico, with some interesting detours en route.
Go ahead with your takeoff. Plan on an initial cruise altitude of at least 5000 feet.
Using radar to judge where to turn, get lined up with the longest straight stretch of highway off to your right. You'll turn just about as you leave this section of the El Paso metropolitan area. Position the aircraft so you're pointed straight up the road. Your ultimate heading will be about 320 to 325. When the highway is straight ahead of you, press the Pause key for a moment.
The city ahead of you is Las Cruces, New Mexico, home of New Mexico State University. Look at that mountain at about 11 o'clock.
The first advanced maneuver you're going to try is the chandelle. Isn't that a beautiful word? It's French for “candle,” though how a candle relates to the maneuver is something I haven't figured out.
The chandelle is a maximum-performance climbing turn involving a 180-degree change in direction. If it's done perfectly, you should wind up flying in the opposite direction with zero bank and with your airspeed just above stalling, while gaining the maximum possible increase in altitude. Follow the steps on the next page (but remain paused and don't try the maneuver until you have read through to the noted paragraph on page 100).
- Apply full throttle.
- Pitch the nose up (using elevator) until the horizon is just visible at the bottom of the windshield.
- Apply and release aileron in the desired direction of turn, continuing upward elevator pressure to maintain maximum climb (minimum airspeed above stall).
- Neutralize aileron on 25-degree bank indication, and maintain that bank.
- Continue gradual upward elevator pressure to keep minimum amount of horizon visible without stalling aircraft.
- Begin a slow, gradual rollout (touches of opposite aileron) halfway (90 degrees) through the turn, continuing to apply back pressure for maximum climb.
- Level the wings when the 180-degree turn is completed.
- Adjust elevator and power for straight and level.
You should gain well over 1000 feet by the time you have completed the chandelle—about 1500 feet can be regarded as optimum. If you gain close to 2000, your turn is too conservative.
If you get a stall warning along the way, give a notch of down elevator, then another if necessary. Don't overreact to the stall warning with too much down elevator, or you'll spoil the maneuver. Note at what airspeed you got the warning, which will help you avoid it on your next try (though the stall will occur at different speeds based on your angle of attack). Just below that airspeed is where you want to try to stay throughout the maneuver.
Also determine, as you practice the chandelle, how much elevator puts you at the maximum-performance pitch attitude at the outset. But don't start the turn until you have the desired pitch, the primary objective being not a high-speed turn, but a maximum-performance climb while turning.
Like all other precision airwork, this maneuver is a challenge. It will take some practice before you do it well. But it's a beautiful thing to do and see. (And one day, with the coming third-generation simulators, we'll be able to watch it from somewhere outside the cockpit.)
Note: At this point you're ready to try the chandelle. But first you are going to enter the Editor—not to change anything, but simply to save the parameters of your present configuration for practice purposes.
So press the Pause key, go into the Editor, press the Save key specific to your computer, and exit again.
Now try the maneuver. If you don't like the way it comes out, which undoubtedly you won't the first time or maybe the fiftieth, simply press your Recall key and try it again.
When you're through practicing, press the Recall key, and you will find yourself at 5000 feet headed up what is now 1-25 toward Las Cruces.
Now we'll try Eights Along a Road. The idea here is to describe a figure eight at right angles to the road we're following, while not gaining or losing any altitude, winding up on the same heading with which we started.
Eights Along a Road
- Position yourself so the road is straight ahead of the nose of the plane.
- Using your normal notch of up elevator to hold your altitude, enter a bank of any magnitude and fly a circle to the right. Use additional elevator as necessary to hold your altitude.
- Try to complete this top loop of the eight just as you describe a 45-degree angle across the road.
- As you cross the road, immediately bank left, and fly another circle in the opposite direction, describing the bottom loop of the eight.
- As you complete this loop, roll out with the road once more straight ahead of you, and on your original heading.
This sounds easy, but like everything else, it's a difficult maneuver to perform really well. You should decrease your bank slowly as you near the end of the first circle, crossing the road in a level attitude. The second circle will end with you turning to your original heading at the now well-worn spot where it all began.
Use radar and any of your out-the-window views to keep track of your progress. And be sure that you've crossed the road before you start off in a new direction. A down view here is very helpful, because the road disappears from your front windshield view well before you've actually crossed it.
Even executed on the trailing edge of adequacy, Eights Along a Road (you can do more than one, of course) let you look over the whole geography around you pretty thoroughly, and are useful for viewing a particular scene from all angles. More important, they hone your precision.
Another maneuver, Eights Across a Road, is exactly the same, but is flown starting at a 90-degree angle to the road in question.
The ground has been gradually rising under you, so climb to 5500 somewhere along here. Then fly a couple of eights, if you like, as you progress toward Las Cruces. This might be a good time to do a couple of rolls, too, just to keep in practice. And while you're in one of them, fly inverted for a minute to see what a straight line looks like upside down.
But don't try these tricks unless you've mastered the procedures described in earlier chapters and can do them without losing altitude. You haven't any to spare here—about 500 feet maximum. In fact, you're just about at pattern altitude for Crawford Airport: elevation 4454.
Lacking trees, houses, and other vertical and three-dimensional references, you can easily be deceived about altitude in the simulator. A feeling for the various elevations of an area is almost mandatory. The best references for elevation are the FAA sectional charts. The next best is the simulator sectional chart for the area you're flying. I confess that once I was cruising along somewhere over Texas, thinking I was about 1500 feet AGL, when suddenly I heard my tires squeal—I had made a straight-and-level landing in the prairie.
Your landing at Crawford will be on Runway 26. The airport is west of the city and, for that matter, west of the river. So get over to your left and line up following the Rio Grande. You will see the airport ahead before long.
You will see another highway, too, crossing the river. It's Interstate 10, which we last saw south of El Paso, and here it crops up again.
Runway 26 nearly parallels 1-10. If you stay close to the river and at the last get on a heading of 350, you'll be on a left base for 26 before you know it.