Why do we have dual checks at the club every six months? A question that is asked quite regularly, especially by pilots who fly almost every weekend because they are ‘current’. Your normal flight procedures would be sharp, but how long ago did you do a stall in the landing configuration or when did you last experience the incipient stage of a spin? To go out to the GF and practice these conditions of flight without an instructor on-board may be quite daunting. What about a precautionary landing, a forced landing, a glide approach or engine failure after take-off? These are examples of inadvertent flight conditions we want to avoid, but don’t be the pilot that thinks it “will not happen to me”.
The club dual check can’t be ‘failed’. If there is an area of the exercise that need some more attention we will book another flight and get you up to standard. Here are a few things to consider when you are booked for your dual check.
Airmanship: “Airmanship is the consistent use of good judgment and well-developed skills to accomplish flight objectives. This consistency is founded on a cornerstone of uncompromising flight discipline and is developed through systematic skill acquisition and proficiency. A high state of situational awareness completes the airmanship picture and is obtained through knowledge of one’s self, aircraft, environment, team and risk.” – Tony Kern defined this term in 1996 very well. It speaks volumes!
The correction timeline: When you recognize an error, how long does it take you to correct it? Here is an example: Your dual check flight is in the circuit. There is a cross wind from the West and RW19 is in use. When you turn Base to Final, the wind pushed you ‘through’ the center-line and you are experiencing a slight ‘hammer-head’. You fix it patiently by not over-banking the aircraft and your touch & go is perfect. In your next circuit you do the same thing. This time you correct it slightly more aggressively, add a little power to prevent a slow-flight situation and you are too high. Now we’re looking at side-slipping (with a cross-wind) to commit to the landing and all of a sudden the work-load is elevated. Situational awareness would have told you in the down-wind that there is a drift to the right (nose yaw to the left), so you’ll have a tail-wind on the base-leg. Don’t rush your corrections with abrupt inputs, but shorten the time it takes you to recognize the error.
The POH Procedures: Be ready to simulate the emergency procedures in your dual check. Can you still remember what to do when there is an engine fire during the start? What about an electrical fire during flight? Are you able to grab the fire extinguisher and still maintain straight and level flight in the downwind? So brush up on the emergency checklists before your flight. As members of SFC we fly different aircraft and these procedures do vary. Apply the correct procedure as found in the POH.
The V’s & Briefing: When you fly on a recreational flight with your friends, family or by yourself, do you still do a take-off briefing? Probably not every single flight, right? Every take-off is different but the V-Speeds remain the same. Brief yourself (and fellow crew or passenger next to you) on the rotate speed, glide speed and climb speed. When you verbalize the take-off briefing including the abnormalities out loud (even when you fly solo), a kinaesthetic approach is applied and the information becomes tangible and it’s unlikely that the startle effect will have an adverse effect on the situation.
Some other tips for a smooth Dual Check:
- Be early and have the aircraft refueled with the pre-flight completed.
- Meet your instructor a day or two before and ask what you can do to prepare for the flight.
- Have your logbook perfectly updated and ready for the endorsement to be entered.
- Authorize the the flight promptly before the slot begins. Sometimes the Book-a-Flight system needs a bit more TLC with updates of your information.
- When you do your checks or maneuvers, say what you are doing.
- Don’t forget the basics like scanning before turns.
- Be the PIC, you are flying. Don’t wait for things to happen, make them happen.
- Don’t stress and enjoy! You are flying in the most beautiful area in the world!