Working ATC Communication and My FORM 5 for CAP (Part 2)

After a run in with the flu I was finally able to fly my second flight toward earning my VFR Pilot designation with the Civil Air Patrol. With two flights down I am expecting one more before I take my Form 5 check ride.

Today we flew for 2.5 hours and focused on the following:

  • Short-field Takeoff & Landing
  • Soft-field Takeoff & Landing
  • Power-Off Stalls
  • Power-On Stalls
  • Maneuvering During Slow Flight
  • Steep Turns
  • Clearing Turns and Collision Avoidance
  • Normal Approaches and Landings
  • Forward Slips to Landing
  • ATC Communication

For the most part things worked out well, but strangely enough I was still coming in too high and fast. I am also not trimming much for my landings. I blame myself for not flying enough, for only flying this particular plane twice and for never going nuts on the trim. That’s not to say that I am NOT trimming, I am…but I’m not trimming it fully enough to just let it do its thing.

In the clubs 172 I use to squeak them on almost all the time. In fact I was doing really well compared to my instructor (Sir Trim a lot) – and I mean that with all respect. The result was…with a little or a lot of trim….same result. No big deal.

However since I also fly a Cherokee I got use to understanding the need for speed so we don’t sink too soon. This really meant an extra 10 knots during each phase of landing. I also don’t remember needing a lot of trim…I just keep flying it to the runway like I did with the Cirrus a few times.

So I got out of the habit of dealing with a falling leaf Cessna where 55 to 60 knots doing a short field is no big deal…so long as you keep flying the plane. Now I just need to get my head around this issue more which is why I will be playing with Microsoft FSX and practice landings before I get in the plane again.

Working ATC Communication and My FORM 5 for CAP

Civil Air Patrols 172 N927CP

On Sunday I took to the skies in the Civil Air Patrols 172 N927CP. This was my first time in this aircraft and the first time in over 6 years of operating from KROC and class Charlie airspace.

Flying the 172 may seem like the main event, but for me the excitement…or as some might say…the anxiety…comes from being at a controlled airport, in controlled airspace and having to listen to what’s going on and doing my part. For pilots who fly into Class C and B Airspace, this posting is NOT for you…but it could be good if you have students.

LiveATC Got You Down?

At some point in your flying you have probably been told to listen to LiveATC at: http://www.liveatc.net/ – to become familiar with ATC communications. And that’s a great thing to do, but because of all the commercial air traffic mingling with private pilots, it doesn’t offer the continuity that you may be looking for in order to learn what to do. That was my experience and frankly it didn’t really make things easier or instill confidence. In fact it probably increased my anxiety because everyone sounded like a fast talking expert (because they are) and there is no separation of the frequencies. In particular, approach and tower frequencies. Frustrating!

So before I leaped into ATC communications cold turkey (and there is nothing wrong with that) I documented and asked questions of CFI’s, commercial pilots and even updated a few documents based on my real world experience (and my own ATC recordings) to create three PDF files of ATC Communication for Private Pilots.

Below are my three PDF files of ATC Communication for Private Pilots starting with setting up a VFR departure from KROC (Rochester,NY) and the VFR arrival back to the airport. So there is 100% continuity from a flight out of and BACK to KROC…which is a Class Charlie airspace airport.

I can’t stress enough how important it is to plan ahead and organize in your head, what you are going to do before you leave and before you come back and talk to approach for permission to land. These documents are not written in long English sentences, but allow you to fill in the blanks and act as a script, except for the KROC frequencies…after all…I did make this for me.

If you want the Excel spreadsheet I used, please let me know and I can email it to you!

ATC Communication for Private Pilots

ATC-Script – Clearance – Taxi Procedure (.pdf)

ATC-Script – Departure Procedure (.pdf)

ATC-Script – Arrival Procedure (.pdf)

If you want to hear a few of my recordings, you can download the .mp3 files shown below. Unfortunately I just don’t want to devote a lot of time downloading and editing mp3 files to find everything that I did, so this is just a taste. Again, pardon my amateurish radio work…at least I was brave (or fool) enough to post a few of mine!

Radio Call to Clearance Deliver

Radio Call to Approach – Getting Back to KROC

Radio Call to Tower – Permission to land at KROC