A good pilot is always learning -- how many times have you heard
this old standard throughout your flying career? There is no truer
statement in all of flying (well, with the possible exception of
"there are no old, bold pilots.")
Aero-News has called upon the expertise of Thomas P. Turner,
master CFI and all-around-good-guy, to bring our readers -- and us
-- daily tips to improve our skills as aviators. Some of them, you
may have heard before... but for each of us, there will also be
something we might never have considered before, or something that
didn't "stick" the way it should have the first time we memorized
it for the practical test.
Look for our daily Aero-Tips segments, coming each day to you
through the Aero-News Network.
Here's something to include on your next Flight Review (if not
Pitch + Power = Performance. This simple
equation helps us predictably fly an airplane. Pitch may be
expressed as an indication on an attitude indicator/artificial
horizon, or in a visual pitch attitude as seen out the windscreen
(the redundantly-named "sight picture").
For a given power setting there is a single pitch attitude that
results in a desired aircraft performance. Most performance figures
are defined by an angle-of-attack (AoA). In most flight regimes
there is a direct correlation between AoA and an indicated airspeed
and, since most light airplanes do not have AoA-measuring devices,
we obtain an approximate AoA by flying an indicated airspeed. So
for practical purposes Performance = Airspeed, or Pitch + Power =
This is why there is a particular sight picture for, say, Vx
attitude for a short-field takeoff, or for flying down the final
approach course at a stabilized approach speed. For a given amount
of power (takeoff power for Vx, near idle for final approach) there
is a specific pitch attitude that results in desired airspeed.
What if Power = 0? We want to fly, in most cases, at the
airplane's Best Glide speed to get optimum performance (Airspeed =
Performance). It stands to reason, then, that there is a specific
Pitch that results in best glide speed when Power = 0.
And here's your goal: with an experienced instructor pilot (for
instance, during your next Flight Review), practice the
engine-failure/best glide configuration, paying attention to the
Pitch necessary to remain on Best Glide speed. Now you know, in the
event of an actual emergency, where to put the nose to get maximum
- If your engine quits while you're climbing or descending,
adjust the Pitch to the glide attitude immediately.
- If the engine fails in cruise flight, hold altitude as airspeed
decreases; as it nears Best Glide speed, adjust Pitch to your
target visual or instrument attitude, and Best Glide speed will
Aero-tip of the day: Learn the Best Glide pitch
attitude for the airplane(s) you fly.