It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade. ~Charles Dickens, Great Expectations
PRIVATE PILOT GROUND SCHOOL
PRIMARY TRAINING AND REFRESHER COURSE
AFTERNOON/EARLY EVENING SESSION
For Primary and Potential Students and Certificated Private Pilots
March 17, 2015 to June 2, 2015
(Every Tuesday 4 pm to 7 pm for 12 weeks)
Location: Freeflight Aviation, Flying W Airport, Medford, NJ
Price: $299 for the complete course or $30 per session
(Textbooks sold separately)
Instructor: Bob McCabe, CFI, AGI, IGI
- This course covers all aeronautical knowledge items required for Private Pilot certification.
- At course completion, primary students who pass a sample test will receive an endorsement to take the FAA Knowledge Test at an approved testing center. (There is no limit to the number of times you may take the sample test).
- Experienced pilots may attend the sessions of their choice as an excellent refresher.
- Rusty pilots will find this training a great way to get back in the game.
- To enroll or request additional information, contact the instructor Bob McCabe at 856-912-5329 or call Freeflight Aviation at 609-265-0399. Please provide Proof of Citizenship (current passport or birth certificate with raised seal) to Freeflight Aviation prior to attending classes.
About the Instructor
- Bob McCabe is a certificated flight instructor and advanced and instrument ground instructor with more than 2500 hours flight time and 20 years of teaching experience. He is a former flight school owner, corporate instructor, and adjunct college professor. He holds the rank of Colonel in the Civil Air Patrol and has served as New Jersey Wing Commander, mission pilot, instructor pilot, check pilot and cadet orientation pilot. Bob also serves as a volunteer FAA Safety Counselor for the Philadelphia Flight Standards District and has presented dozens of seminars on a wide range of safety related topics. He has been an invited guest speaker at aviation organizations and other venues. In 2014, Bob received the General Aviation Certificated Flight Instructor of the Year Award representing the FAA’s Eastern Region, and again in 2015 representing the Philadelphia Flight Standards District. Bob recently retired as Chief Engineer, Research & Development, for a division of a major defense contractor, where he led development of advanced communications systems for space, airborne, land and sea platforms. He continues to enjoy his two primary passions – flying and teaching.
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The Red Enigma Knob
I always wonder what my post-solo students are thinking when they read the Engine Start Checklist or the Cruise Checklist and they come to the part that demands, Mixture……Lean.
They always dutifully pull the mixture knob back an inch and move on to the next item or happily stow the checklist away somewhere.
If I ask them why they leaned the mixture, and they look at me surprised and state,
“Because it’s on the checklist!”
When they don’t get a positive nod from me, and their statement is met only with stoic silence, they usually retort defensively,
“Well, you taught me to do that since my 1st or 2nd lesson, so that’s what I did!”
And you know what? They’re right! During the beginning lessons, the instructor is trying not to overwhelm the student with too much information or task saturation them. We simply teach them to pull the knot back a bit and move on.
During these early lessons, we are not on extended cross-country flights and we are not at high-altitudes where leaning the mixture is a priority. We are usually no more than 3000 feet above the ground and most POH’s do not advise to lean at those low altitudes. The problem with that is, the student is taught over and over again to ignore the red knob in flight. If they do touch it, it is simply because they read the Cruise Checklist and it commanded to lean the mixture, so they do.
Three questions jump right out:
1. Why do we lean the mixture
2. When do we lean the mixture, and…
3. How do we lean the mixture properly
To answer number 1 is easy:
On the ground, we lean the mixture to mitigate any possibility of lead fouling the spark plugs. At low RPM settings and rich mixture, it is highly possible to leave lead deposits on the spark plugs to the point where they are no longer functioning properly. This would be a very dangerous situation on takeoff. Hopefully, this level of lead fouling would be discovered on the engine run-up during the mag test, but there are no guarantees of this. Better safe than sorry.
In the air, we lean to obtain the best air/fuel mixture for proper and efficient engine operation and to lessen any possibility of detonation or plug fouling.
When do we lean? On the ground after engine start, during taxi and run-up. In the air, most POH’s recommend leaning the mixture above 3000’.
The proper way to lean the mixture on the ground is add power to at least 1000 RPM. Then slowly lean the mixture a couple turns at a time and watch the RPM increase. Continue to lean the mixture until you notice the RPM beginning to drop from its peak point. Note where the maximum RPM indication was and then enrichen the mixture to obtain the maximum RPM that you noted previously. This is the best lean mixture to alleviate any possibility of lead fouling on the ground.
Leaning in cruise flight at altitude is much more complex. For this short article, there is no way I could explain to you all the leaning practices and theories that exit. The real answer is, “It depends.”
Proper leaning in cruise should be performed based on the POH recommendations and it also depends on the equipment installed in the airplane.
It also rests on if you are looking for best power, or best economy, and this should also be addressed in the POH. In other words, do you want to go faster, or do want to go farther?
Lastly, it hinges on if you are a advocate in Rich of Peak or Lean of Peak operations. This can be highly controversial and debatable in pilot circles. For the most complete picture of this situation, I will refer you to Advanced Pilot Seminars at www.advancedpilot.com .
For the training aircraft we fly in the club, I will only provide information concerning rich of peak operation.
Here is a procedure when flying without an exhaust gas temperature gauge (EGT): When flying above 3000 feet AGL, at 75 percent power or less, lean the mixture slowly while listening to the sound of the engine. Continue leaning until the engine starts to stumble, and then enrichen the mixture until the engine runs smoothly again. It’s as simple as that! This technique has been utilized and considered safe for many years.
Here is a technique when flying with an EGT gauge: Set your cruise RPM for 75% power or less and then lean the mixture while watching the EGT needle. Continue leaning until the EGT needle reaches its peak temperature. Mark this indication with the EGT marker needle. Then enrich the mixture until the engine is running between 50 and 100 degrees rich of peak EGT. On most gauges, the large tick marks represent 50 degrees and the small tick marks represent 25 degrees.
Remember though, always reference the pilots operating handbook for proper leaning techniques for the specific aircraft and altitudes you are cruising at.
Gene Wenzel, CFI, CFII
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