Getting my Private Pilot Certificate in a Luscombe.

Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by birdus, Nov 18, 2019.

  1. birdus

    birdus Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Bought a Luscombe in which to get my Private Pilot Certificate (and in which to continue flying afterwards, probably). Finally had my first lesson yesterday. The CFI and I talked for probably 3 hours in the morning while the skies dumped rain on the area. He checked out a bunch of my documentation and we chatted about a variety of things. After that, he gave the plane a good look, poked it and prodded it, and we hopped in to go. The instructor is an old timer (83) which is just what I wanted, and will retire in April after turning 84. I feel privileged to be one of his last students ever.

    He sat left seat, as the Luscombe has the (heel) brakes only on the left side and he wants that tiny extra bit of opportunity to save my landings after I begin attempting and ruining those. He took off and landed. After demonstrating various things, I tried them. We flew for about an hour-and-a-half. I did straight and level (actually not straight or level), shallow turns (25-30 degrees), steeper turns (45 degrees), played around a bit with adverse yaw to see how dramatic its affect was (no rudder), practiced coordinated turns (just a series of back and forth 90-degree turns), some climbs and descents, and power-off stalls. I really need to work on those, as the nose kept dropping dramatically upon stalling. I was surprised by that. I think I was tending to push the stick forward rather than just slightly relieving back pressure. I also wasn't good about going to full throttle immediately.

    I was completely lost the whole time we were flying, but I'm not too worried about that. I was busy thinking about other stuff. I'm checking out the map and will try and gain an improved awareness of our whereabouts over the coming lessons.

    If there's interest, I'll keep posting here about my experience learning to fly in my Luscombe 8E. I'm also video recording all the lessons and will be posting those on my YouTube channel (I'll post a link). My next lesson is Wednesday morning from 7-9 or 10, weather permitting, of course. I might get to try landing. We'll see.

    Jay
     
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  2. MauleSkinner

    MauleSkinner Final Approach

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  3. Sundancer

    Sundancer Ejection Handle Pulled

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    I'd like to hear about it; interesting airplane, and it'd be fun to hear your take on it as you discover its quirks and particulars.
     
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  4. Shuswap BC

    Shuswap BC Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Looking forward to hearing about future flights.
     
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  5. bobmrg

    bobmrg En-Route

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    Way too early to introduce stalls, IMHO. For many students, the first few hours are basically airplane rides...opportunities to get used to the idea of maneuvering in three dimensions, to be at altitude for the first time in their lives, etc. Don't let the instructor rush you into anything you are not ready for. It is apparent (to me, anyway), that your instructor does not use a syllabus....this is bad news. You should each have a copy of the syllabus so that you can tell where you are in your progress and what comes next. Learning to fly is a step-by-step process, when done right.

    Bob Gardner
     
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  6. RyanShort1

    RyanShort1 En-Route

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    As a tailwheel instructor, too, he's right to stay in the left seat for now.
    I'd still agree with Bob about the progression of training. Also, you seriously need to think about how you're going to get some of the stuff done for the checkride. There's nothing wrong with the Luscombe, but you may have issues accomplishing the hood / instrument requirements for the checkride, so you may need to have another airplane to fly as well.
     
  7. Bill Greenwood

    Bill Greenwood Pre-takeoff checklist

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    The important point about a stall, is to break the stalled condition right away, or sense when you are close to the stall and not get that far. The nose may not be dropping as far as you think, and I hope he isn't trying to get you to be so aggressive with power as to almost ignore the stall.
    Hello, Ryan, hows it going.
     
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  8. MauleSkinner

    MauleSkinner Final Approach

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    As long as he’s got a needle and ball, he’s good there. If that’s what he’s going to be flying, best to have proficiency in emergency equipment installed. I’d also recommend learning the more practical ASF/University of Illinois technique in addition to the crock that the FAA wants for the checkride.
     
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2019
  9. RyanShort1

    RyanShort1 En-Route

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    Depends on the DPE and how they interpret the rules. Some won't take checkrides in vintage taildraggers - aircraft has to be "properly equipped" for the checkride including a 6-pack and electronic navigation.
     
  10. MauleSkinner

    MauleSkinner Final Approach

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    If the DPE says a Private Pilot checkride needs a six pack and installed electronic navigation, find another DPE.
    https://www.faa.gov/other_visit/avi...afety/info/all_infos/media/2017/InFO17003.pdf
     
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2019
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  11. Southpaw

    Southpaw Pre-Flight

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    Dad called Luscombes "Ground Loopers". He never really expounded on the subject.
    His Aircraft was a J-5 Piper. His Brother had a Luscombe.
     
  12. Bill Greenwood

    Bill Greenwood Pre-takeoff checklist

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    A good way to learn tailwheel handling is to taxi the plane around a lot. And not just on a narrow taxiway, if you have a wide ramp area go out there. Learn how much pedal you have to push to start the plane turning and how much to stop it and make it go straight. I don't know Luscome,but if possible stay off the brakes as much as possible.
     
  13. RyanShort1

    RyanShort1 En-Route

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    It's not about an argument, it's about the fact that there's a limited number of tailwheel DPE's to begin with. If he wants to take his checkride in the Luscombe, he needs to be looking now for the right DPE and it's only fair to a student to try and prepare them for what they need to be looking for.
     
  14. MauleSkinner

    MauleSkinner Final Approach

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    Agreed...if he wants to take his checkride in the Luscombe, and he most likely can, he needs to find a DPE that can/will. If one says he can’t, for whatever reason, find another DPE.
     
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  15. RyanShort1

    RyanShort1 En-Route

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    If he was in the San Antonio District, for example, he'd probably need to travel to another FAA region. He also mentioned that it doesn't have dual brakes and I can tell you from personal experience as an instructor that a lot of DPE's are going to be skeptical about that.
     
  16. birdus

    birdus Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Too late!

    The instructor certainly isn't rushing me. I was very happy with what we did (or tried to do, anyway) on the first flight. The pace felt just about perfect. If anything, I'm the one who's anxious to try things.

    Jay
     
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2019
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  17. birdus

    birdus Pre-takeoff checklist

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    The whole point of buying the Luscombe was to get my certificate in it, so the idea is absolutely to do the check ride in it. There is a local DPE who does checkouts in tail draggers.
     
  18. MauleSkinner

    MauleSkinner Final Approach

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    I always would have preferred some way to get the pilot OFF the brakes to being able to apply them myself. But everybody’s got their own opinion.
     
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  19. RyanShort1

    RyanShort1 En-Route

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    Yeah, as I said, it's a good thing for the IP to start him out in the right seat.
     
  20. birdus

    birdus Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I did about an hour-and-a-half of practice taxiing (3 sessions) before that first lesson and the only time I touched the brakes was if I needed to turn sharply (such as in the run-up areas to get headed the other direction on the taxi way), tight maneuvering near other planes, or parking. I'm going to follow the advice I've read in a few places, which is basically never to use the brakes during takeoff or landing. I intend on using them only occasionally during taxiing. Although we didn't get into it much during that first lesson, my instructor essentially said the same thing.
     
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  21. Kent Wien

    Kent Wien Filing Flight Plan

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    Hi Jay!

    While I didn’t get my private in a Luscombe, I did buy one shortly after. It’s a blast of an airplane with a totally undeserved reputation.

    I’m excited to hear about your progress.

    One nice thing about the heel brakes in a Luscombe is that they aren’t overly powerful. You will likely not have to worry about nosing the airplane over due to aggressive brake usage.

    Here was my Luscombe story:

    http://kentwien.blogspot.com/2008/04/rip-luscombe-n71808-1946-2008.html?m=1
     
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  22. birdus

    birdus Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Hey, Kent! I enjoyed both your stories (buying the Luscombe and getting to Columbia). Thanks for your words of encouragement, too.

    Jay
     
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  23. Matthew Rogers

    Matthew Rogers Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Electronic navigation is 100% not required by the FAA for a checkride, nor is an electrical system in the airplane. Any DPE that disagrees is just making up their own rules. All that is needed is VFR Day equipment.
     
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  24. MauleSkinner

    MauleSkinner Final Approach

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    Plus enough to do the required instrument work...a needle and ball should suffice.
     
  25. RyanShort1

    RyanShort1 En-Route

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    There was an ACS period where it was, but looks like it may be back to OK. Guess I missed that.

    https://www.faa.gov/other_visit/avi...afety/info/all_infos/media/2017/InFO17003.pdf
     
  26. Shepherd

    Shepherd En-Route

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    1. On the ground a Luscombe can be a challenge for the ill prepared or those who are slow to react with the rudder, but they are an absolute delight to fly.
    2. You can take a check ride in any certificated aircraft. as long as whatever instruments come in the aircraft are functioning. They are done on a regular basis at GBR, in the Cubs, with nothing more than the airspeed indicator, altimeter, oil temperature, oil pressure, turn/bank indicator and compass. I do believe it has to be at least a two seater. Years ago you could take a check ride in a one seater, with the DPE standing on the ground watching you, but I haven't heard of that in decades.
    The problem with mid '40s taildraggers, is they don't have much usable load. One of the local DPEs is a bit of a lard azz, so we need to import a featherweight female DPE to do the rides.
     
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  27. Kent Wien

    Kent Wien Filing Flight Plan

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    Jay, it looks like your Luscombe came from the guy who bought my basket case airplane from the story above!
     
  28. birdus

    birdus Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I thought that name sounded familiar. Gar told me he had owned it only a couple years (when I bought it from him in September), and I don't think he had done a thing to it. It had, however, had lots of work done on it by Doug Combs (a well-known Luscombe expert) in the early 2000s. So, I don't know if I'm missing part of the story or what. Maybe I'll dig into the documentation (history) and map out all the owners listed there. Might find your name! :)
     
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2019
  29. Kent Wien

    Kent Wien Filing Flight Plan

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    Oh, I’m sure they’re not the same airplane. Mine was an 8A. Yep, Doug Combs was the Luscombe guru when I had mine.

    sent a message to you over on Facebook.
     
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  30. geezer

    geezer Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Jay,
    Luscombes are nice airplanes. A friend had one for many years, and flew frequently. He did say that cross wind landings required more care than many other similar planes.

    I started in a Piper J 3 Cub. Stall training on the first lesson is what I had, sorta....he had me flying at the edge of stall, trying to maintain altitude, with just a little less power than I needed. The plane would get shaky, I would ease the stick until steady, then gently bring it back slowly to try to regain altitude lost. After at least 5 minutes of this, he explained the proper reaction if a stall actually occurred, and we went on to other activities.

    When we returned to the field, he told me to fly down near the surface, and then try to keep just a foot off the concrete. The tail went lower and lower, and as the shaky condition reappeared, I eased the stick to prevent the stall, and we had wheels on the runway. What a thrill! Zero wind, so no problem with tendency to turn as we rolled out.
     
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  31. Tusayan

    Tusayan Filing Flight Plan

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    As mentioned in a prior thread, I learned to fly in a Luscombe that I bought beforehand. They have a well deserved reputation for difficult landing characteristics in my view, but it is mitigated by practice... and also when you have little time in type by having flown nothing else but a Luscombe. I never ground looped mine, although I had one or two ‘moments’ in seventeen years of ownership. Never let it get ahead of you.

    Re brakes, as with (even more so) tailwheels, having the brakes in good shape and properly adjusted is a good idea, just in case. You should try to avoid using them at speed because even though they can solve a developing situation, every time adds a little risk. My plane had original Cleveland mechanicals in tip-top shape but was flipped on its back with the brakes by an unfamiliar (20,000 hr plus) pilot, only three days after he bought it from me.

    Re flying qualities, ailerons are unduly heavy although powerful enough, and elevator and rudder are both very light and very sensitive. If you’ve flown nothing else you get used to it, and in any case there is no lack of control authority. The plane can and must be flown, not just pointed in a general direction, and learning to do it was satisfying to me.

    I’ll say little about Doug Combs’ business (its reputation with Luscombe people is well established and accessible) but I once was pleased to be successful in buying some brake parts from him. There are a lot of used Luscombe parts out there, they made 6000 planes, and a Luscombe is a remarkably inexpensive plane to maintain if you know a friendly A&P IA.
     
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  32. Maxnr

    Maxnr Pre-takeoff checklist

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    No. No. No. I had an A model and it was a sweetheart. It had a six inch tail wheel and ground handling and cross wind landings were like being on railroad tracks. I did however, aired up the tires to 30 psi at first. She was a little "twitchie." I read the POH and found that 18 psi was recommended. Much better. There are at least three Luscombe user groups that are great sources for info, STC's, etc.

    Monney Larsen bought the Luscombe company around 1947. First, he submitted data to the CAA (FAA wasn't created until 1958) for a 10% gross weight increase for ops in Alaska. Then he created an Acrobatic supplement to the POH. I had one. BTW, the title of FAR 23 spells it Acrobatic. "Aerobatic" is a bogus term. It seems that after WW2, returning airmen were just wringing the civil fleet out. The CAA felt that some guidance was needed. They had a program that was going to test most of the civil fleet of Cubs, Champs, etc for Acrobatic use. Larsen was the first to step up and the rest is history. CAA sent a letter to Larsen listing approved maneuvers for Luscombes. Included entry speeds, G's, (nothing exceeded 2.5 G) List included loops, rolls, snap rolls, snaps on top of a loop, Cuban eights and more. The Acro supplement is word for word the CAA letter. The CAA became the FAA and that program died. Luscombes were ahead of the others in having an Acro supplement to the POH. Judgement should be exercised before putting a 70 yr old airframe through an air show routine. Yeah, I know AT-6's and Stearmans do it every day.

    When I had my 8A, I became friends with a guy that owned a 8E. He had a sixpack panel and dual nav coms. He regularly filed IFR. Never had a problem.
     
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2019
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  33. Tusayan

    Tusayan Filing Flight Plan

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    Somebody I know well wrote this, which may be of interest: https://www.euroga.org/forums/aircraft/7312-luscombe-8-write-up-l8

    TEMCO bought Luscombe around 1950, when the large Dallas operation floundered. Otis Massey bought the company in 1954 and built some planes in Ft Collins CO in the late 50s. Moody Larsen of Bellville MI bought the TC in 1964 and held it until the 1990s. The CAA acrobatics letter was sent to Dallas in 1947, as follows. A number of the maneuvers are listed as requiring over 3 G. Note the reference to "exceptional skill" for some of the maneuvers and also the last sentence, in relation to a brand new aircraft:

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2019
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  34. Maxnr

    Maxnr Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Another point on ground handling. My Luscombe Maintainance Manual said that MLG TOE OUT should be zero to two degrees TOE OUT. I got out the plumb bobs, straight edges, measuring tapes and made chalk lines on the hangar floor. I found that mine was right on at ZERO. She handled like a baby carriage.
     
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  35. birdus

    birdus Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Lesson #2 — 1.6 hours (3.1 total)

    Yesterday was exciting. I know some people are opposed to practicing high speed taxiing, but my instructor had me try it. First one was not good. I know (in my head) that you're supposed to make short stabs on the pedal to make minor corrections, but I had never done it before and so I did what many other people who have bent their planes did. After coming back to idle, it veered left when the tail dropped (gyroscopic effect?). Long story short, I got us swerving pretty good and the instructor missed the Luscombe's tiny heel brake pedals. We got slowed down, but ended up in the grass. Plane was okay. I did 3 more and those were better. On the 5th roll, I took off. There was a LOT going on and I'm going to need to work on it.

    After going up, we practiced more turns, 90, 180, and 360 degrees, shallow and steep. I'm tending to lose altitude on my right turns. I definitely need to work on my horizon-vs-cowling-hinge reference. On the other hand, there were some segments where I did a good job holding my altitude. However, that is a general challenge that I need to work on. I'm trimming, but need it to become more habitual.

    We did some more slow flight, including turning during slow flight. I needed to do better maintaining altitude during slow flight. Then we did some more stalls. I still didn't feel like I was doing great (not bad, though), but then as the instructor told me to hold it farther into the stall and keep the wings level on the next one, I thought to myself that I didn't really want to use the ailerons for that (I know they would tend to be stalled) and that I really want to hold the stick back and stay on the rudder to try to keep the wings level, and that's what I did. It was pretty cool. I had the stick in my gut (maybe not all the way back because I'm using a back cushion) and I fed in loads of rudder (both ways). I kept the stick back and kept the wings level with the rudder. After I relieved back pressure, the instructor laughed and said I was really on those rudder pedals. I got a kick out of that.

    Since the first lesson, I had looked at Google maps some to try and familiarize myself more with where we were flying. On the way back to the field, I climbed up a thousand feet to be able to find a lake I was looking for. I had a pretty good idea where the airport was relative to the lake. With some guidance from the instructor, I got us back to the airport, brought us into the downwind on a 45, throttled back and maintained our altitude (approximately) until base, set us up on final (I was pretty close), and then told the instructor to take it. He greased it and I filled it up with gas and taxiied it back to my tie down spot.

    Jay
     
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  36. Robert Ryan

    Robert Ryan Pre-Flight

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    Sounds like a very exciting lesson!
     
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  37. Sundancer

    Sundancer Ejection Handle Pulled

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    Good read, thanks; also, I think you have good head work, FWIW. Press on !
     
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  38. MBDiagMan

    MBDiagMan En-Route

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    It’s wonderful that you’re starting in a taildragger, especially a Luscombe. I started in an Aeronca Champ and it was a great way to begin flying. I then went to a 150, but after a while away, started over again in my 140. I still have the 140 and fly it often just for fun. I did my BFR in it a week ago and it was a hoot.

    Lots of good advice for you in this thread. Fly as much as you can as often as you can and don’t let anyone talk you into a tricycle until after your Private.
     
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  39. Bobanna

    Bobanna Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Jay-Dub: Totally studly! You're obviously loving acquiring the skill-set to master your wonderful bird. Please keep your wonderful narrative going. nosewheel pilot.JPG
     
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  40. birdus

    birdus Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Thanks for the kind and encouraging words. Although I feel a little gun shy after those high-speed taxis, I'm about to head back out to the airport for another flight. Hopefully, it's just good news for the next post here.

    Jay