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Thread: Learning to fly Ultralights

  1. #11
    Norman Langlois's Avatar
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    Lost part of my post

    Learning to fly came partly from the unmentionable source Simulation. I spent 10 years with a combat flight simulation squadron. During the time I custom built ruder and flight yoke system. flying in combat simulation with this hardware and being accustomed to the 3 dimensional world necessary to do combat. Is actually no different than the real thing as far as the body's coordination goes its the same. I am well trained physically.

    The shock and awe came when I was 100 ft in the air. This ain't no game and they didn't put this dam wind in the simulator .
    Still I was quite able to fly the plane . No miracle no luck just unprepared. Just level off power down and land.
    Prepared is a state of mind . I had not confirmed the plane would fly . Luck maybe but that has to do with the construction not the flying . After the flight I began to learn to control the lift off speed .I was never afraid of it after that,I kept working to improve the stats for rotation.
    last month I reached the time when the plane was to be flown by a test pilot to confirm its character. who also completed my lessons to fly using the single seat methodology all the time. As well all the early lift off and landing were always discussed in detail.

    One such event was a take off and landing during gusty wind conditions of 7-8 mph
    At the point of flare power set to a rate of decent ( not off). A gust of wind stalled me at 5 ft off the water,resulting in me skipping like a stone up to 7 or 8 ft and splat like a Mallard duck .I got a bit wet . lesson learned power on with such wind conditions fly it back onto the water timing the power off at the contact and flare
    Regards Norm
    Last edited by Norman Langlois; 09-27-2012 at 06:29 PM.

  2. #12

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    I train radio control model students using a second controller (called a "buddy box" )that allows the instructor to take control when needed. Could this be used for ultralights? I can't recommend this just yet because of problems with reliable radio signals.

    But, after some thought about this, I think maybe radio control might work if the student had direct cable control of half the controls and the instructor had half(requires additional control surfaces for instructors use, throttle could be instructor only, I think.) If the ultralight was properly trimmed, the instructor could avoid disaster when needed, and a radio control glitch would not be a total disaster either since the student retains some control(hopefully).
    The instructor should have voice radio communication also.

  3. #13

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    In the early days of ultralight flying prior to the advent of two seaters, there was a lot of training done via radios by instructors.

    Dan Johnson, one of the most respected people in the ultralight and the light sport field, recounts this radio training at 2:00 in this video interview. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DwaP9...eature=related.

    The key to successful non-dual flight instruction was/is:
    1. Use the simplest aircraft possible. In the early days of ultralights, that was a 2-axis, single surface, high dihedral ultralight [e.g. the Quicksilver MX]. Still is.
    2. Train in the simplest conditions. Training is done in completely calm conditions.
    3. Introduce only 1 new skill at a time. Example, one learns throttle control and yaw control first with lots of "penguin" time spent on the ground. One then transitions to learning pitch control by lifting the nose wheel off the ground and setting it back on without transitioning to flight. First flights are typically at 1-2 ft in complete control and last often less than 100 feet. The flights build up from there.
    4. Have an instructor that is very knowledgable and experienced in the aircraft being trained in and the single place methodology. An instructor very experienced in the a/c is well ahead of it at all times. If they are "ahead" of it, they can keep the student from getting "behind" it.

    Following the four points above, some simple voice instruction is all that is required from the instructor. The student never gets into a situation where the instructor has to take control of the aircraft.

    If one follows those 4 points, the instruction will result in the safe outcomes that Dan Johnson states occurred in the "pre two seater" period of ultralight instruction.

    [With RC flying, there is essentially no penguin time. Ditto to how utralight flying is taught with the "dual" method. All the instruction and learning is done in the air at high altitude. In that case, one needs to have dual control of the a/c. In the case of RC, with a buddy box. In the case of ultralight instruction via "the dual method", with the instructor in the a/c.]

    P.S. As Dan Johnson points out, the two seater made instruction easier. Primarily because one could train in some wind conditions. However, as he states about the single place method. "It worked. It was alright. Because the early ultralights were so simple to fly."
    Last edited by Buzz; 09-28-2012 at 02:13 PM.

  4. #14
    Norman Langlois's Avatar
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    This being from the student point of view.
    Regardless of all the training the point of being at altitude and alone. Is shocking . With all the modern tech since the early days, surely there is some aid device. to assimilate the instructor being with you during these early altitude stages even during the whole program while a student is in the cockpit, Like cockpit cameras and radio communication.Setups that give the instructor the same views the student has and the ability to suggest and comfort .
    Instructor intervention by suggestion only by Verbal command.

    Buzz wind conditions ?
    In my part of the world calm windless days . You would probably get about 20 days a year like that in my area. and most of those would not fall on scheduled training days. restricting you to small time windows early morning late evening at the time the winds shut down or before the sun stirs things up .
    Wind is part of the training even though it must be light 5 to 7 mph.
    I realize what you mean but it seems so wishful thinking a training season would be so frustrating to come to learn only to go home because the wind doesn't cooperate.

    In your young student plan Have you considered a summer camp venue. with flight training as the main theme? your students would would be able to better move through the developing stages with such a day to day regimen.
    Respectfully Norm
    Last edited by Norman Langlois; 09-28-2012 at 05:19 PM.

  5. #15

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    Norm,
    The two times I believe when the student has the most chance to feel a bit overwhelmed is the first time they break ground in a crow hop and the first time they climb high enough to no longer be judging their pitch and airspeed from ground reference. Those are two major transitions. #1 Ground practice to flight. #2 Ground reference flight to non-ground reference flight. So I'm not surprised that you really felt shocked when you were at altitude alone for the first time. Part of it is realizing the ground is WAY down there and loss of control of the a/c isn't going to result in some bruises and maybe some bent tubing. I had maybe 150 hrs in Cessnas the first time I took my MX up to 800 ft. It was a "holy smokes" experience, looking around in that seat.

    All flying has certain critical transition points. For instance, It's been said the most critical hours of flying are the 100th, 500th and 1000th for all pilots. Those can be periods of complacency and one needs to be vigilant to complacency when passing through them.

    As for technology, I think it depends on how sophisticated the airplane is. The lunar lander took hundreds of hours of simulation to learn how to land it and a ton of people providing the pilot information during the landing stage. Even then, the first actual lunar landing was still pretty dicey because there was so much technology involved. [Armstrong said later he thought prior to the mission that there was a 50% chance Apollo 11 would be successful in trying to land. There was that amount of chance something would not go perfectly right.]

    I think as the aircraft gets simpler and easier to fly [because of slower speeds, less control sensitivity, less mass in a hard landing, less responsive flying characteristics, etc.] there needs to be corresponding less instructor control. With a 2-axis, single surface, high dihedral ultralight, history has shown there can be really good training outcomes with the instructor just using a radio after sufficient ground instruction.

    In calm wind conditions, the instructor can judge airspeed and pitch by reference to the ground in the first crow hop flights. They don't really need to be seeing anything from the student's visual perspective. [Any more than an RC pilot needs to be looking at a camera shot from the RC airplane to know what control inputs it needs.] If the student has received lots of prior instruction about what to expect and what their responses should be, the instructor is really just giving the student some minor coaching over the radio. The student is already ahead of the airplane because of the ground instruction and the instructor is just helping the student stay ahead of it if need be with some minor input over the radio. They are not "teaching" the student while the flight is occurring [that occurred on the ground], they are simply giving some "coaching" if needed.

    There are going to be conditions under which non-dual instruction isn't go to work. For instance, one can't do it at the size airfield where one could do dual instruction. The amount of space needed to safely do the initial crow hops is a lot more than one needs for simply taking off with a student and flying to an aerial practice area. A student crow hopping needs more ground run and more space to get down and stopped.

    Ditto with wind. Some areas of the country are not suitable for anything but dual instruction. Wind is a variable that can rapidly get a fledgling crow hopping student behind the airplane. If there is an area with few calm days, it's probably not possible to do anything but dual instruction there. [One sees this in hang gliding. An area of the country either completely flat, always calm or with few rolling hills isn't going to be of much use for the crow hopping method of learning to fly a hang glider.]

    Norm, when you look at the amount of things you did prior to ever actually flying, it's not really realistic to call your method "single seat training". You prepared far more than the typical person that tried to do "self-taught" single seat training typically did [and which gave the method such a bad reputation]. They often started the engine and tried to get airborne in one day. You spent hours and hours of time doing flying simulation, thinking through your first flights, etc.

    As for the training regime, it does need to be done over several days. The student needs time to absorb what they've learned, do some visualization of what they've learned to build some muscle memory, etc. The problem with making the days continuous, is that the training is so wind dependent. You'd have to do contiguous training in an area of the country [or a season] where one has some assurance one would have the right wind conditions during the training timeframe. That's why a "week at camp" would probably be a tough model to use.

    Waiting for the calm conditions may seem a hassle for an instructor accustomed to being able to do dual instruction with some wind. One big payoff, in my view, is that the student gets more satisfaction from the training process. While there isn't as much actual flying time in the student's first "solo" using the crow hop method as there would be under the dual method, there is flying. Alone. As PIC. It may only be a 75ft flight and 2 ft of altitude. But there is no question that one was "the pilot". You got it up and you got it down. That's a source of great satisfaction. And in my view, it's what sets the "hook" the most and gets them wanting to learn more. They have gone from "student" to "student pilot". I'm sure you experienced that feeling of "rite of passage" after your first actual flight Norm.

    I'm not advocating radio training because it sets the hook better than dual. I only advocate it because.....well........its the only true "ultralight" training anyone can do any longer. One could learn to fly in something heavier and then transition down to an ultralight. But that's going to cost a ton more than radio training in an actual ultralight. [A used Quicksilver MX equipped for radio training will cost an instructor maybe $4500. That's a mite less than any two seat LSA trainer is going to run.] I think rather than bemoaning the loss of the dual training exemption, the utralight community should take a new look at training in simpilier ultralights and with radios. That training methodology with those machines may not be quite as convenient than the two place method, but it certainly has enough benefits and was certainly viable enough in it's day to warrant more effort being put into it today for those really committed to giving training.

    My thoughts.

    -Buzz
    Last edited by Buzz; 09-30-2012 at 07:14 AM.

  6. #16

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    This pilot needs the help of an experienced ultralight instructor, I think-
    http://www.avweb.com/avwebflash/news..._207406-1.html

  7. #17

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    Norm, - This is not a personal attack. Please don't take it as such. But.... ARE YOU CRAZY !!!
    If your story inspired at least ONE wanna-be pilot to try to begin his flying experience alone...in a single seat airplane; it will have done it's DAMAGE. Yes...damage.
    You have great courage...that's to be commended. You survived and succeeded. I'm (truly) delighted. But this is dangerous and foolish.
    A 10,000 hour pilot in our EAA group was just killed. My, gosh, man...If death can come to such an experienced pilot, what chance does a beginner have.
    Norm, you are certainly not the first person to have done this, and survived. But many have not.
    -
    I'm an old fart. - I have been flying for 51 years. All that experience tells me, above everything else; that I am NOT assured of 52. - Anyone can die, any time. Why tempt fate?
    -
    Please, boys and girls....do not try this on your own
    Last edited by uncleleon; 10-03-2012 at 02:34 PM.

  8. #18

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    Hi Norm,

    What are the general specs of your craft. Empty weight, take-off speed, cruise speed, engine, etc?

    Thanks!

    -Buzz

  9. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by uncleleon View Post
    Norm, you are certainly not the first person to have done this, and survived. But many have not.
    Who are you aware of that did not survive learning to fly in a legal single place ultralight? [With or without the assistance Norm has had and the prep time he put into preparing for his first flight.]

    -Buzz

  10. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by Buzz View Post
    In the early days of ultralights, that was a 2-axis, single surface, high dihedral ultralight [e.g. the Quicksilver MX]. Still is.

    Hey Buzz, any idea how many Quicksilver MX's were built and how many still survive? Is there anything comparable?

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