Pilot Topics

Flaps can do so much for you

Lesson 1

There is an old saying that “a stitch in time saves nine”, implying that if you think ahead and put the right stitch in something being made, you will save nine “repair” stitches later. I would propose that an aviation corollary might be “a notch in time saves a lot of trouble in the pattern later”.

Many of those with whom I fly as part of the Wings program, and in flight reviews, are hesitant to use flaps, and yet flaps can do so much for you. And, as more and more Sport Pilots and Sport Aircraft start flying in our patterns, this will become even more of an issue. It is an issue now, when faster aircraft, like light twins and singles (such as Mooney’s, Bonanza’s, and the faster composite airplanes) exist, or try to, in the same pattern as slower 172’s and Cherokees, and even 172’s living with 152’s. Here is a solution that makes pattern living much easier.

Prior to pattern entry, put on “a notch” of flaps. Get to the flap speed and put on either one notch (for those with that type of flaps) or 10O of flaps (in some really “clean” airplanes you may need to lower the gear to slow down). This does several things. First, it gets your faster aircraft to a speed that blends better with slower aircraft. Second, once you are trimmed for level flight it results in a lower nose attitude at those lower speeds, providing better forward visibility in the pattern and pattern entry. Third, it makes a really stable platform that handles much better in the pattern at the slower speeds.

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