Lancair Owners and Builders Organization

Power, Procedures and Perspective

by jeff edison

The “coolest, fastest, sexiest airplanes ever” come with their own set of, shall we say, “traits.” Speed, one of the staples of the Lancair brand, required the designers to incorporate some flight characteristics that made advanced and unique piloting skills mandatory. As a proud Lancair propjet owner, I can comment on some of these traits that we, as Lancair pilots, find ourselves dealing with on a daily (flying) basis. I’m going to just roll up my sleeves and jump right in.

Power, power, power! When we look WAY back to our initial training as private pilots, we can recall P-factor, torque, and spiral slipstream. It’s very common to hear Lancair pilots discuss application of right rudder on the take-off roll. Most simultaneously apply rudder as required to hold centerline, knowing that a rapid application of power could easily overwhelm the amount of available rudder. Experience and training allow us to properly balance the two, which results in a beautiful, fast, super-smooth takeoff that few GA or civilian aircraft can match.

Let’s take it one step further (these traits will be second nature to, at least, the propjet owners): During your climb-out, ATC issues an intermediate level off; BETTER BE READY with a leg full of left rudder! When you pull back the power and initially add the left rudder, keep in mind you might need some right aileron to hold heading. So forward stick, power back, left rudder and right aileron. Does this sound like balancing a plate on a stick? After about 50 hours of hand flying, sufficient muscle memory can be built to handle the airplane smoothly without a struggle—experience.

Holding altitude, heading and airspeed, and keeping the ball centered, are all basic flight skills. But they simply are not enough to fly your airplane safely in today’s flight environment. Larger flight organizations (USAF and professional air carriers come immediately to mind) rely heavily on written procedural norms; they call them flight standards. Most organizations lump together (and for good reason) training and standards. Since our airplanes are all experimental and amateur built, there is a natural uniqueness to each airframe and piece of equipment. This creates a spectacular challenge to the development of a standard set of procedures for normal maneuvers. It’s a developing situation, but there are irons in that fire. Stay tuned to hear more on this effort…

As a professional pilot for many years, I’ve developed a habit that isn’t unique to me. Each time I fly, later that night when I go to bed, I review that day’s flight performance. I give myself a little debrief. What went well? What didn’t go well? Where did I make the mistake? What could I do differently to be better, smoother and more prepared next time? Many of my mistakes have one thing in common—I was rushing. I continue to work on my time management skills. Seeking out your own weak points and addressing them is the hallmark of most professionals that I’ve had the pleasure of working with over the years.This perspective also gives me the best return on my training investment per dollar spent. When I am paying an instructor to teach me, I start by pointing out my weak areas. After addressing those I have him “poke around” in other areas, looking for additional improvement items.

Know your airplane’s flight characteristics. Practice managing the challenging aspects and exploiting the design benefits of your Lancair. Most of all, learn to embrace and enjoy cleaning up your weakest skills.These are the traits of long-term successful aviators.

Merry Christmas, and fly safely!

For comments/questions on this post contact Jeff via email; info@lancairowners.com.