Climbing and Descending (and why such old planes?)

From the second half of August to the end of September I was learning about Climbing and Descending. These are of course again fundamental parts of flight, and there are procedures for the correct way to do this, and even on a plane by plane basis there are speeds that are most efficient for that plane to climb at. There are acronyms to remember how to climb (there are acronyms for everything in flying!) and how to descend. To climb you need to remember P-A-T, Power, Attitude, Trim. And to descend you need to remember C-A-P-T, Carb Heat, Attitude, Power, Trim. By Attitude I mean the way the aircraft is sat in the sky, so for example while climbing you’d have a nose up attitude, descending nose down, turning left you’d have a left banked attitude etc.

Yes these planes have carburettors, no really, they have carburettors! Can you remember the last car you drove that had carbs? And carbs have heaters to stop them icing up.

carbheat00.jpg
A carb heat control (apparently from Medieval times)

Not only do they have Carb heat controls, but also mixture controls. When you get into a cruise at a reasonable height then you can lean off the mixture to make the engine more efficient and use less fuel. Again not something you’d need in a fuel injection engine.

Here’s some video I took of one of my lessons during this time, notice my vice like grip on the yoke (not a good idea).

Aircraft manufacturers, and especially aviation authorities like the FAA in the US, and the CAA in the UK, or EASA in Europe, or incredibly slow to allow the introductions of new innovations such as electronic instruments rather than vacuum pump ones. One of the reasons is safety, if you’ve had something that’s worked for so long then keep using it. But I also get the feeling a lot of it is pure conservatism. They seem to be very bad at seeing what’s available in the wider world. So most light aircraft still use carburettors whereas all cars have gone over to fuel injection.

However aircraft do last a long time, and the same design can be manufactured for decades. The Cessna 152 came into service in 1977, and it was closely based on the Cessna 150 of 1958. The Cessna 172, of which there are many, many examples still flying, entered service in 1956, and the Piper PA-28 in 1961. Can you imagine a car designed in 1961 still being used as a daily driver nowadays?

Author: oldmannewpilot

An old man, becoming a new pilot