FAQ First Flight
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FAQ First Flight

People repeatedly ask me what to expect on the first flight and how to go about it. It's pretty simple and straight forward if you follow some common sense instructions.

First of all, just because Part 103 does not require a license, does not mean that you don't need instruction. Instruction is an absolute must. Most accidents have occurred because someone knows how to operate everything from motorcycles to bulldozers and thinks a UL must fit in there somewhere and will become self evident. Not So. Get instruction in the smallest, lightest airplane you can find. Preferably a BFI ( basic flight instructor for ultralights ), if not a CFI in something small, like a Cessna. Get a minimum of ten hours or more, until you really have the feel not only for the airplane but for the entire environment of flying. Even if you already have a license and have flown 172s, get some time in small aircraft.

I tell everyone that jumping from a regular airplane to a Falcon is like jumping from a Harley to a dirt bike.  Same laws, just lighter, quicker response.

When ready, taxi the Falcon until you are totally fed up with it. Then do some more. And again. Always stay below lift-off speed and in no -wind conditions. DO NOT try to see how fast you can go before it lifts up. 

Then, after doing a very thorough preflight and in no-wind condition, take off in full power and you will find that the airplane will literally jump off the ground at its rotation speed. All it need is a little elevator. Climb out will be quick, just keep it reasonably on track. Don't worry too much about numbers, just keep it flying.  It will not stall, you will really have to force it hard with a lot of elevator all the way back.

Do not land. Climb to some comfortable altitude within gliding distance to the airport and play around with the controls. Get the feel of turns, climbs descents, slow speed, and so on. Get a feel of the entire envelope. Half hour to an hour should be plenty. Besides straight and level, flying consists mostly of climbing and descending turns. Get to know the slowest speed you can comfortably fly at, the speed it will sink at, maybe try some stalls if you are brave. It will not stall in the regular sense, but will porpoise and hang there, because as soon as the nose drops and picks up a bit of airspeed it flies again. The extent of the porpoising depends on a number of factors, one being the pilot weight. The heavier the pilot, the more pronounced.

When you have had enough fly towards your landing, but do not even think of landing. Just fly over the runway at a comfortable altitude and airspeed. Come back, do it again, this time lower and slower, and again and again, until you have the feel of the right speed, below which you will not be able to maintain altitude. You will want to approach and land faster than that, but you do want to know the bottom end of your airspeed.

Then, when ready, reduce to your comfortable speed and allow the airplane to touch down and roll out. Landing will be a non-event. I find that approaching fast and slowly reducing power will produce a very nice landing. Because of the large wing and good glide ratio it will hover in ground effect for some distance. Just be sure you put your feet on the steering pedals right away. If you forget, you may get a shimmy or a turn. A good idea is to install a set of centering springs like the XP has, which keeps the steering straight.

That's all there is to it.

 

HERE ARE A FEW THINGS YOU DO NOT WANT TO DO, and believe me, I have seen it taught by BFI's :

DO NOT taxi increasingly faster and faster in order to find the point of lift-off. At that point the airplane has insufficient control and an inexperienced pilot will undoubtedly make the wrong move, like lift up, kill the power, or just as bad, increase the power. You do not have the experience yet to bring it to a smooth glide landing. That's why I recommend taking off at full power and doing all the practicing at altitude. 

DO NOT lift off and kill the power in order to come to a gliding landing. You do not have the feel for that speed and attitude yet. An inexperienced pilot will produce PIOs ( Pilot Induced Oscillations), a common phenomena where a pilot kills the power, loses speed, notices he will hit hard, applies power, hits the runway at full power and bounces back up in the air, then of course kills the power again and repeats the process again and again.

Disclaimer

These are my opinions, based on 2000 plus hours total, several hundred in Falcons, also many hours as BFI. A student must get several opinions and chose his own options, methods, procedures and instructor. These are suggestions and not meant to be used in place of professional instruction.