Alternator Failure

Alternator Failure
Alternator Failure

Your Alternator Just Failed. Now What?

You’re cruising along, when suddenly your low voltage light turns on. Now what?

WHY DO ALTERNATORS FAIL?

Your alternator is your aircraft’s primary source of electricity, and when it fails, you need to start making some decisions. But first, why would your alternator fail?

There are a few reasons, and the first is one of the most common problem: a broken drive belt.

Most aircraft alternators are powered by a drive belt that’s connected to your engine’s crank shaft. And, like everything else on your engine, they can wear out and break. When they do, your alternator comes to a screeching halt, and so does your flow of electricity from the alternator.

Read More

How A Propeller Generates Thrust

How a propellar generates thrust
How a propellar generates thrust

You probably know how an engine starts and runs, but how exactly do propellers generate thrust? The answer is relatively simple, and it all goes back to how lift is created and directed.

In the words of NASA, “A spinning propeller sets up a pressure lower than free stream in front of the propeller and higher than free stream behind the propeller. Downstream of the disk, the pressure eventually returns to free stream conditions. But at the exit, the velocity is greater than free stream because the propeller does work on the airflow. We can apply Bernoulli’s equation to the air in front of the propeller and to the air behind the propeller.”

PROPELLER TWIST

Propellers are airfoils, shaped similarly to wings. But instead of producing lift in a vertical direction, propellers produce lift in a forward direction that we call thrust. (We’ll dig deeper into this below)

Just like wings, propellers have camber and chord lines, in addition to leading and trailing edges. If you look closely at a propeller, you’ll also notice that the blade angle varies from root to tip.

Read More

How to avoid spatial disorientation

Spatial Disorientation
Spatial Disorientation

How To Prevent The 6 Types Of Spatial Disorientation

Flying through the clouds on an IFR flight can be one of the most exciting things you do as a pilot. But between 5-10% of all general aviation accidents result from spatial disorientation, and of those accidents, 90% of them are fatal.

WHY DISORIENTATION HAPPENS IN THE CLOUDS

Your eyes are your primary sensory input when you’re flying. You look outside, you see which way the sky is pointing, and you adjust your airplane. But all of that falls apart when you’re in the clouds.

That’s because the sensory input of your eyes and ears start to disagree in the clouds. Your ears have three fluid filled canals that help you determine which way is up, and they start taking over, for better or worse, when you can’t see beyond your propeller.

Read More

Stall Speed & Bank Angle

Stall Speed & Bank Angle
Stall Speed & Bank Angle

Why Does Stall Speed Increase With Bank Angle?

When you bank while maintaining altitude, your stall speed increases. And it’s something that you need to be aware of, especially when you’re in the traffic pattern. So why does stall speed increase when you start rolling left or right?

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU BANK

When you’re flying straight and level, the lift your wing produces points straight up, opposing gravity.

But when you start to bank, that lift vector starts moving too.

At this point, your lift vector is pointed to the left. And as you can see in the diagram above, you now have two components of lift: a vertical component, and a horizontal component. When you combine the two, you get a total (or resultant) lift vector.

Read More

Soft Field Landings

Soft Field Landings
Soft Field Landings

How To Make A Perfect Soft Field Landing

Spring is here, which means if you’re planning to touch down on a grass or dirt strip soon, it’s time to brush up on your soft-field landing skills.

HOW SOFT FIELD LANDINGS ARE DIFFERENT

Soft field landings are pretty much the same as normal landings, until you cross the runway threshold. That’s where you need to put your soft field landing technique into place.

So what are the steps of a good soft field landing? We’ll break it down into three phases: approach to landing, touchdown, and rollout.

APPROACH TO LANDING

To make a great soft field landing, you need to start with a stabilized approach. Being stabilized ensures that you touch down where you want, and that you transfer your aircraft’s weight from the wings to the wheels as gently as possible.

Read More