Trouble maintaining level flight

Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by Wingingit, Oct 20, 2019.

  1. Wingingit

    Wingingit Filing Flight Plan

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    New pilot here, any tips of maintain level flight during cruise? I'm confused because I have had multiple instructors tell me different techniques . One instructor told me to level at desired altitude reduce power and THEN trim until I no longer feel any pressure on the yoke. But another instructor told me to level at desired altitude, trim until I no longer feel pressure on the yoke THEN reduce power. I feel like both techniques don't really help me with maintaining altitude during cruise. This has also been a problem for me when trying to maintain proper pitch and altitude during landing. Any tips on what I'm doing wrong or can do differently?
     
  2. RyanB

    RyanB Administrator Management Council Member PoA Supporter

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    The second instructor is wrong. If you trim to hands-off before reducing power, you’ll have to re-trim in order to maintain level flight.

    Reduce power to whatever your cruise setting is, then trim for hands-off flight.
     
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  3. Timbeck2

    Timbeck2 Final Approach

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    <--- in the "reduce power then trim" camp.

    You have to realize that you're flying through air which isn't always blowing the same way all the time. You are going to have to fiddle with power and trim from time to time. One and done doesn't work.
     
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  4. GRG55

    GRG55 Final Approach Gone West

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    The technique will vary with the airplane.

    If trimmed for climb, I'll usually "rough trim" for level flight so I don't have to keep pushing on the yoke, let the airplane accelerate to cruise, set throttle (prop) mixture, fine tune the trim, fine tune the mixture for LOP.
     
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  5. Wingingit

    Wingingit Filing Flight Plan

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    Thank you. Yes I was initially taught to reduce power first. I think a big issue with my training was that I've had multiple instructors and it's been hard to figure out who to listen to.
     
  6. Wingingit

    Wingingit Filing Flight Plan

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    Gotcha, thanks!
     
  7. RyanB

    RyanB Administrator Management Council Member PoA Supporter

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    Lots of hot air floating around.

    The big thing to remember, is that with every power application or reduction comes a trim change.
     
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  8. PaulS

    PaulS Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Find a good instructor and stick with him/ her, try to fly at least once a week, preferably two more times a week. It will go faster and these things become automatic quicker.
     
  9. Stewartb

    Stewartb Final Approach

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    Students usually fly with no cargo. Adding weight aft stabilizes the airplanes I’m familiar with. Forward CGs are much harder to trim to level.
     
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  10. luvflyin

    luvflyin Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    After you’ve solved the ‘leveling off’ thing, there is maintaining it in cruise. Weight/CG changes from fuel burn will affect it. You may have to make slight changes to ‘hold’ altitude. Pressure gradients can affect it to. You will be trying to maintain ‘indicated’ altitude from the altimeter. Actual altitude will be changing as you fly from high pressure to low or vice versa. Slight changes, but changes nonetheless.
     
  11. luvflyin

    luvflyin Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Yup. I have put ‘ballast’ in the back just to deal with this.
     
  12. PaulS

    PaulS Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Turn on the autopilot
     
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  13. TommyG

    TommyG Pattern Altitude

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    Pitch power trim.

    pitch for you attitude to maintain level flight, set power, trim to reduce pressure spend maintain altitude. Any change In either will result changes in the others.
     
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  14. Shepherd

    Shepherd En-Route

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    Bless you for mentioning this.
    It's amazing how few people can actually cope with this concept.
     
  15. Deelee

    Deelee Cleared for Takeoff

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    That's what I was taught. Simple to remember. Pitch for level flight, power back (if leveling off) then trim off pressure. Just takes practice. I was all over the place at first trying to get it right. ended up seesawing all over the place - too much pitch down, too much pitch up, too much power reduction so add power and then trim and pitch down again... ugh. It will just click, trust me and then it will just feel right. But pitch, power, trim really helped me. Still hear my instructors saying it.... That and high? low? fast? slow? lol. Still hear that on approach.
     
  16. Half Fast

    Half Fast Final Approach

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    Well, true, but better might be "Pitch, allow speed to build, power, trim."

    For a given pitch attitude, there is one airspeed that results in level flight. When leveling off from a Vy or Vx climb, push the nose down (do a rough trim if there's a lot of force), then allow the airspeed to build to close to the desired figure before reducing power. Then trim.
     
  17. Sundancer

    Sundancer En-Route

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    I remember from years back, in Flying magazine, the article "On the Step is a Crock".
     
  18. Maxnr

    Maxnr Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Trimming is not a "one time thing." Also, your CG may (will) change as fuel is burned off.
     
  19. James331

    James331 Ejection Handle Pulled

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    None of these CFIs talked about where to look? Aside from the panel?

    Just fly to the horizon, 90% eyes outside, 10% eyes on the panel, take a occasional look down at our altimeter to see if you need to change your aim point on the horizon a little up or down.

    All these trim and power nuances are trivial. Seems like they are teaching paint by numbers. Just fly to the horizon, reduce power after you level out and all trim is for is to take the pressure off the controls, and that’s for ANY stage of flight.
     
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  20. kgruber

    kgruber En-Route

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    Maintain altitude with pitch.

    Do whatever with everything else.
     
  21. Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe

    Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    The air goes up. The airplane goes up. The air goes down. The airplane goes down. Some days are worse than others. Today was a trim and relax day for me. Other days it looks like I am flying a yo-yo.
     
  22. Tantalum

    Tantalum Final Approach

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    Yes. When you level off get to your cruise speed and power setting then trim away pressure.
     
  23. Tommar98

    Tommar98 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I think one of the issues is not allowing the plane to accelerate once you level off. If you cut power too quickly and start trimming you’ll end up chasing it because the plane will slowly accelerate. I was taught to level off and let plane accelerate to expected cruise speed and then reduce power and trim.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
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  24. Tantalum

    Tantalum Final Approach

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    YES!

    Also shows a lack of clear instruction on the part of the CFI regarding trimming for a given airspeed etc

    Slight tangent here, sorry, but I talk to a lot of would be and new pilots and it seems, at least among younger CFI, that rote memorization is what is taught as opposed to a good aerodynamic understanding.. this is a great example of a CFI teaching a new student a rote thing as opposed to understanding principles and concepts of trim and aerodynamics
     
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  25. AKBill

    AKBill En-Route

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    My ballast is 50 lbs of survival gear, not a lot but seems t help a bit...:rolleyes:
     
  26. Zeldman

    Zeldman Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Is there fuel in the tanks.??

    [​IMG]

    :rofl::rofl:
     
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  27. dmspilot

    dmspilot En-Route

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    Or maybe they didn't care when it was taught to them.
     
  28. James331

    James331 Ejection Handle Pulled

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    I’ve seen a trend in over emphasis of some things which are good, but not super critical.

    Like trim, most GA planes you can set the trim in the middle and fly the entire day without touching it, shy of being extremely malnourished or sickly the extra force on the yoke ain’t a big deal. Is it good to trim, yes, but it’s waaaay over talked about in flight training as if was almost more important than sight picture. Same with exact power settings, XX RPM downwind, XX crosswind, etc.

    This is akin to the fear of god many CFIs put into students about radio work, this ends up making far more problems and stt.tt..stuttering on the radio than just a relaxed student using it for two way conversation and picking up the lingo as their experience builds.

    If you just let the foundation be simple and visual you make a waaaay better pilot and eliminate most of these issues.

    Want my entire lesson on trim (flight aspect not system),
    Q what’s trim do?
    A it takes the pressure off the controls, so less force is needed by you to hold the stick where you want it.

    I say fly level, I have the student spin the wheel one way, now I have them put the wheel back to where it feels good, other way and do the same.

    DONE.
     
  29. cowman

    cowman En-Route PoA Supporter

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    How I do it- 50-100' from target altitude rough trim down, about 3 turns of the trim wheel for me. Then hold level, get power set if not already and keep it level with the yoke, fine tuning the trim until holding at the correct altitude and at about your expected cruise speed. Lean the engine. Continue making small adjustments as needed throughout the flight.

    Some days you can dial the trim in right and it holds altitude like you had an autopilot with altitude hold on. Other days the winds and thermals will have you working throughout the flight to keep on altitude. Don't overthink this stuff, just understand the relationship between pitch/power/trim and airspeed/vertical speed. Understand some days things are smoother than others, and just make adjustments as they are needed.
     
  30. unsafervguy

    unsafervguy Pattern Altitude

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    ???? An aft cg reduces stability of an aircraft.
     
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  31. Tantalum

    Tantalum Final Approach

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    2200 RPM, trim trim trim! These rote rules do not a good pilot make
     
  32. Stewartb

    Stewartb Final Approach

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    Only when way aft of the limit. Most planes with a solo pilot or worse, two front seaters and no cargo are forward CG and will be difficult to keep on trim.
     
  33. James331

    James331 Ejection Handle Pulled

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  34. Dan Thomas

    Dan Thomas Final Approach

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    That there. I had too many students start pulling the power back as they leveled off, then they'd trim. The speed would continue to build and so the nose would go up and the airplane would climb some more. They'd fool with the trim, then the RPM would be higher than the target as the speed increased.

    Push the nose down to level off, let the speed build to target, reduce the power to maintain that speed, THEN trim for no pressure. Anthing else is just chasing the airplane all over the place.
     
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  35. unsafervguy

    unsafervguy Pattern Altitude

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    completely wrong.

    i suggest you go back to school on aerodynamics. i would suggest chapter 4 of aerodynamics for naval aviators. here is a snip from that chapter.

    CONTROL FORCE STABILITY. The static longitudinal stability of an airplane is defined by the tendency to return to equilibrium upon displacement. In otherwords, the stable air- plane will resist displacement from the trim or equilibrium.

    When the c,g. position of the airplane is fixed, each elevator position corresponds to a particular trim lift coefficient. AS the c.g. is moved aft the slope of this line decreases and the decrease in stability is evident by a given control displacement causing a greater change in trim lift coefficient.

    Thus, decreasing stick force stability is evident in that smaller stick forces are necessary to displace the airplane from the trim speed. When the stick force gradient (or slope) becomes zero, the c.g. is at the stick-free neutral point and neutral stability exists.


    after the cg goes beyond the neutral stability point, divergent oscillations occur, and that is bad juju.
     
  36. Stewartb

    Stewartb Final Approach

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    42FEFAF0-26B4-4759-9ACA-4FD6D2A58DA6.png Yawn. I suggest you fly an airplane. Every Cessna driver knows the advantages of CG favoring aft. Cub guys, too. In test flying my exp I had a handful with an unstable airplane until I added weight in the back, and the airplane was within the design envelope. I don't know about you but in my life experience makes a bigger impact than books.

    PS- a screenshot of iBooks on my iDevices.
     
  37. AKBill

    AKBill En-Route

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    Fly near mountains with a 20 knot wind and trim for level flight...:lol::lol:
     
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  38. Stewartb

    Stewartb Final Approach

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    Go back to the OP. Obviously he should adjust power before trim. But when it won’t stay trimmed? Add some weight aft. EVERY one of you knows that’s correct. It’s the difference that experience makes and that’s what he was asking for. Here’s a common W&B with my Cessna on wheel skis. How do you guys think it trims? Once and done? Get real.

    8FBA1A92-4620-46FC-B6B2-A47DC6927949.png
     
  39. unsafervguy

    unsafervguy Pattern Altitude

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    i see aerodynamics for naval aviators is listed as new, maybe you should read it, i have many times. as fpr flying an airplane, i would be willing to bet i have more hours that you will ever see, in a larger flight envelope that you will ever encounter. I also have a degree in engineering. your physics understanding of your "experience" is lacking. what is your definition of that "unstable" aircraft?

    I don't think you understand what a stable and unstable aircraft is and the connection to controllability. a stable aircraft will go back to trimmed flight when a displacement force is imparted on it. a neutral stable aircraft will stay at the displaced condition, a unstable aircraft will increase in displacement from stable flight.
    moving the cg aft will decrease the stability of the aircraft. that is simple physics. however, it will also increase the controllablility. it will take less stick force to impart a movement from stable flight. moving the cg aft will also increase performance of the aircraft as the tail will have to impart less downforce, and thus less drag. if you truly had an unstable aircraft, moving the cg aft will only make it more unstable. however, it will make it lighter on the controls, and as to the OP, will only make it harder to control altitude because of the lighter controls.
     
  40. Stewartb

    Stewartb Final Approach

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    Answer the OP, smart guy. I’m a lost cause.
     
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