Flight Training - June 2015 - 32

I knew the airplane was overweight
but didn't understand my options. Of course,
being young, cocky, and knowing it all,
I opted for takeoff.
warm autumn day. I'd asked the lineman (back then nobody let
pilots pump their own fuel) to fill the rental Piper Warrior "to
the tabs," about 68 percent of a full fuel load, and off we went to
Godfather's Pizza for lunch.
When we returned to the airplane, the tanks weren't full to
the tabs. They were full to the brim. Being a newbie, I wasn't
sure what to do. I knew the airplane was overweight but didn't
understand my options. Of course, being young, cocky, and
knowing it all, I opted for takeoff. The airport in Farmington
sits on a mesa above the town, like an aircraft carrier towering
above the waves. I used up nearly every foot of the 6,500-foot
Runway 5, lifted into ground effect, then plunged off the mesa
to the treetops below. My passengers thought it was great fun. I
nearly had a heart attack. We mowed the grass all the way back
to our home base in Durango. I was lucky.
BALANCE. There's more to keeping an airplane (decently) in
the air than just weight. An airplane can be well within its
gross weight and still not fly, thanks to the other half of our
equation: balance. An airplane in flight balances on an imaginary fingertip called the center of pressure. Pushing down on
that fingertip is a theoritical collection of weights called the
center of gravity, or CG.
Picture yourself balancing a spoon on your fingertip. If you get
the spoon in the right place, the spoon will stay put all day, or at
least until your arm cramps and you drop it. But if you place the
spoon too far forward or too far backward it simply falls off your
finger and splashes into your chicken soup.
To picture how the load in an airplane can be moved about to
balance it, we need to leave the airport and go to the playground.
Remember teeter-totters, aka seesaws? If a teeter-totter has
two equal-weight children at equal distances from the center, it
balances-or, more correctly, it will return to equilibrium if it's
disturbed.
But what happens if one child weighs much more than the
other? The teeter-totter won't balance, right? The heavier kid
will be sitting on the ground and the other kid will be stuck up
in the air. But if the heavier kid moves toward the middle and
the other kid stays out on the end, the teeter-totter will balance.
Just like the children on the teeter-totter, if too much weight
is piled aft, the nose of the airplane will want to go up. Beyond
some magical point, it's aerodynamically impossible to get the
nose down. Yep-the heavier kid is sitting on your tail, and the
spoon is hopelessly unbalanced.
32 /

FLIGHTRAINING.AOPA.ORG

If, on the other hand, too much weight
is piled forward, the nose can't rise, and
you might not get enough angle of attack
to take off.
THE LINES STAY THE SAME. App or chart,
the lines on the weight and balance
"envelope" that the poor student didn't
understand stay the same. The left-side
lines show the forward CG. If you plot a
load left of the left side of the envelope,
you'll be nose heavy. The right-side lines
show the aft CG. If you plot a load right
of the right side of the envelope you'll be
tail-heavy. The top of the envelope is the
maximum gross weight. If you plot a line
above the top line, you are overweight.
BUT NOTHING ELSE STAYS THE SAME.

Weight and balance change in flight, and
not just when you're ferrying skydivers. As
your fuel is used up, the reduced weight
in the tanks can change the location of the
airplane's CG.
That's why it's important to check the
weight and balance for both departure and
for exhausted fuel. If both are within the
envelope, the airplane will perform well
throughout the trip. Why exhausted fuel,
and not the fuel it will take to get to your
destination? Because fog happens. And
stronger than predicted headwinds happen. And sometimes our navigation suffers
and we take the scenic route. A legal fuel
reserve that leaves the airplane uncontrollable is of little use.
That's one of the nice things about
modern apps: They chart both the starting
weight and balance, and the fuel-exhausted weight and balance, at the same time.
Pretty slick.
SMART LOADING. So how would you load
the baby elephant, 12 monkeys, 20 bales


http://FLIGHTTRAINING.AOPA.ORG

Flight Training - June 2015

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Flight Training - June 2015

Contents
Flight Training - June 2015 - Cover1
Flight Training - June 2015 - Cover2
Flight Training - June 2015 - Contents
Flight Training - June 2015 - 2
Flight Training - June 2015 - 3
Flight Training - June 2015 - 4
Flight Training - June 2015 - 5
Flight Training - June 2015 - 6
Flight Training - June 2015 - 7
Flight Training - June 2015 - 8
Flight Training - June 2015 - 9
Flight Training - June 2015 - 10
Flight Training - June 2015 - 11
Flight Training - June 2015 - 12
Flight Training - June 2015 - 13
Flight Training - June 2015 - 14
Flight Training - June 2015 - 15
Flight Training - June 2015 - 16
Flight Training - June 2015 - 17
Flight Training - June 2015 - 18
Flight Training - June 2015 - 19
Flight Training - June 2015 - 20
Flight Training - June 2015 - 21
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Flight Training - June 2015 - 25
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Flight Training - June 2015 - 31
Flight Training - June 2015 - 32
Flight Training - June 2015 - 33
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Flight Training - June 2015 - Cover3
Flight Training - June 2015 - Cover4
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