Introduction to the Aircraft


Flight One is an introduction to the airplane, its flight controls and how they are used in flight.

Every flight is preceded by a preflight inspection of the airplane. Prior to commencing Flight One, complete a Preflight Inspection. The airplane used for this flight is a Cessna 152.

Take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with the cockpit, instrument panel and flight controls.

If flying from a tower-controlled airport, you will turn on the master switch and one radio and listen to the Automated Terminal Information Service (ATIS) recording prior to starting the engine. From this recording you will obtain information regarding the current weather conditions at the departure airport. More on this later, but for now, after written down the information, you can turn off the radio and master switch and begin the Before Starting Engine and Starting Engine checklists.

Once the engine has started, things get noisy in the cockpit. Having determined that the engine sounds healthy, now would be a good time to put on your headset.

Taxi and "Run up"

Taxiing practical test standards

Before takeoff check practical test standards

It is now time to call ground control and obtain a taxi clearance. The details of communications will be covered in Flight Two.

Having obtained the clearance to taxi, you can release the brakes, which you have been applying by pressing on the upper section of the rudder pedals with your toes. As soon as the airplane starts to move, apply even pressure to the upper half of the pedals to bring the airplane to a stop, thereby verifying that the brakes work. This action also compresses the nose strut slightly to ensure that the nose wheel centering device is disengaged.

You can steer the airplane on the ground by pushing on the bottom half of the rudder pedals with your heels to turn the steerable nose wheel. There also will be a deflection of the rudder as you do this. The top half of each rudder pedal controls a disk brake on each main wheel. They are independent of each other, hence different amounts of pressure on either pedal will result in differential braking, causing the airplane to turn toward the side on which greater pressure is being applied. This phenomenon can be used to assist with making sharp turns, but should be used sparingly and with caution.

Your biggest challenge at this point will be to think with your feet and resist the temptation to turn the yoke in a vain attempt to steer the plane on the ground.

Follow the yellow line in the center of the taxiway to get to the runway.

When you get close to the runway, select an area in which to complete
the "Before Takeoff" checks, otherwise known as the "run up". This should be somewhere that allows you to stop without obstructing the movement of other aircraft, leaving sufficient clear space to allow you to "run up " the engine without your prop blast creating a nuisance. Position the airplane so it is pointed into the wind. This will provide increased airflow to keep the engine cool during the run-up and will reduce buffeting or movement of the airplane by the wind.

You are now ready to proceed with the Before Takeoff checklist.

Having completed the Before Takeoff checklist, you will taxi up and hold short of the runway. This means you stop the plane just before the double yellow lines separating the taxiway from the runway. Assuming you are flying from an airport with a control tower, you will now call the tower for clearance to take off. Details of communications will be covered in Flight Two.


Once you are cleared for takeoff, you will taxi onto the runway, switch the transponder to the altitude encoding position, and turn the landing light on. Ensure the mixture is set for takeoff (full rich for operations below 3000 feet) and, when lined up on the runway centerline, smoothly apply full throttle. Keep your hand on the throttle throughout takeoff and initial climb-out.

Check to be sure the engine instruments are indicating in the green and that the airspeed indicator is operating correctly. If anything looks unsatisfactory during the initial part of the takeoff roll, reduce power to idle and abort the takeoff.

Upon reaching rotation speed (Vr), apply gentle backpressure to the control wheel. The nose will gradually lift off the ground and the airplane will begin to fly. Once all the wheels are clear of the runway, you need to adjust the position of the nose (pitch) with respect to the horizon to obtain the airspeed for best rate of climb (Vy).

Once you have obtained your desired airspeed, you can relieve the pressure you are applying to the controls by using the trim control wheel. Push the wheel forward to relieve forward pressure (nose down trim) you are applying to the control wheel, or rotate the trim-wheel back toward you to relieve backpressure (nose-up trim). The objective is to neutralize the pressure you are applying to the control wheel so that the airplane will maintain the desired airspeed without requiring you to constantly apply pressure to the controls.

After you have climbed to at least 1000 feet above ground level (AGL), you may wish to transition to a cruise climb that will improve forward visibility and improve engine cooling. To do so, lower the nose slightly to obtain a cruise climb airspeed. Trim again when the desired airspeed is obtained.

Anytime you establish a new airspeed, you will need to reset your trim.

Straight and Level Flight

To level off at your desired altitude, take ten percent of your vertical speed and use this number of feet as the lead point from which to commence the transition to straight and level flight. To do so, apply forward pressure to the control wheel and establish a straight and level flight attitude by referencing the positions of the nose and wings relative to the horizon.

Allow the airplane to accelerate to cruise speed and then reduce power to your desired cruise setting. At this point you will be applying forward pressure on the control wheel to maintain level flight. This pressure should be removed by applying nose-down trim.

Make a mental note of the position of the nose and wings with respect to the horizon and you will be able to return to straight and level flight anytime by reestablishing the same picture for that power setting.


Turn the airplane by establishing a bank in the desired direction of turn. To do this, turn the control wheel in the desired direction. This will deflect the ailerons so that the aileron on the inside of the turn will go up and the aileron on the outside wing will go down (increasing lift and thereby initiating a bank).

Prior to any turn, be sure to check for traffic.

For a shallow turn, establish a bank of less than 20 degrees and maintain the aileron deflection throughout the turn. Anytime the ailerons are deflected, the airplane may be subject to adverse yaw. That mens the outside raised wing will be subject to greater drag (since drag is a by product of lift) than the lowered wing, hence there is a tendency for the nose of the airplane to yaw (move sideways) to the outside of the turn. To neutralize this tendency it is necessary to apply some rudder pressure by pressing on the rudder pedal on the inside of the turn (that is in a left turn apply pressure to the left rudder). The simultaneous application of the correct amounts of aileron and rudder deflection will result in a coordinated turn. The inclinometer below the turn coordinator indicates whether your rudder inputs are correct, i.e. the ball should be centered between the reference lines in a coordinated turn.

If the ball is off to one side, apply rudder on the side on which it is deflected. In other words, "step on the ball".

For medium turns involving between 20 and 45 degrees of bank, it is not necessary to maintain aileron deflection once the desired bank has been established. This is because the inherent stability that tries to level the wings against the forces created in shallow turns is overcome by the greater forces involved in medium and steep turns. Continued deflection of the ailerons would result in the angle of bank continuing to increase. Hence, once the desired bank has been established, neutralize the aileron deflection by relaxing the pressure you have been applying to the control yoke. Since the ailerons will no longer be deflected , adverse yaw will decrease and you can relax the rudder pressure.

Anytime you are turning and intend to maintain a constant altitude at a constant power setting, it will be necessary to increase backpressure on the control wheel to raise the elevator and increase angle of attack. This is done in order to create more lift because, as you are turning, you are redirecting some of the vertical component of lift sideways to create the turn and the plane would be left with a deficit of vertical lift if you did not increase the angle of attack. In simple terms, for a constant altitude turn, you need to raise the nose slightly as the bank is established.

All these control inputs will work better if you think of applying and relaxing pressure as opposed to pushing or pulling the controls. Watch an experienced pilot and notice most of the time he holds the controls gently and makes subtle movements.


To climb from a straight and level flight attitude, smoothly apply full power by pushing the throttle all the way in. Then raise the nose by applying gentle backressure on the control wheel to pitch for the desired airspeed. The airspeed chosen will generally be one that gives a cruise climb or best rate of climb (Vy). If the airspeed is too slow, lower the nose; if it is too high, raise the nose.

Make a mental note of the position of the cowling and the wing tips with respect to the horizon for any given climb configuration. By using the same power setting and reestablishing this picture, you should be able to return to that airspeed. You may also note your pitch attitude using the attitude indicator.

Once stabilized at the desired airspeed, you can relieve any pressure you are applying to the control wheel by adjusting the trim setting. If you have been pulling back on the control wheel, you will need nose-up trim, which means rotating the trim wheel back towards you.

To level off from the climb, lower the nose back to the straight and level flight attitude. To level off at a specific altitude, take ten percent of your vertical speed (as indicated on the vertical speed indicator) as the number of feet below your desired altitude that you should commence lowering the nose to the straight and level attitude. Having established straight and level flight by pushing forward on the control wheel, allow the airspeed to increase prior to reducing power to the desired cruise setting. Once you have adjusted the power setting and the airspeed has stabilized, you can once again relieve the pressure you are exerting on the control yoke by trimming. In this case, you will probably need nose down trim, which means rotating the trim wheel away from you.


Most descents involve a power reduction. Anytime the power is going to be reduced to a setting below the green arc marked on the tachometer, you should apply carburetor heat by pulling out the carburetor heat knob.

Next, reduce power to the desired rpm setting. If no control inputs are made to change pitch, the airplane will start to descend while maintaining approximately the same airspeed as prior to the power reduction. However, as you approach an airport for landing you will usually want to descend at a slower airspeed than that at which you were cruising. To achieve this, you need to raise the nose slightly following the power reduction. Raising the nose reduces airspeed. Having reached your desired airspeed, adjust the attitude of the nose (pitch) with respect to the horizon to maintain that speed. Any control pressures may then be relieved by adjusting trim.

If you wish to increase the rate of descent, reduce power. If you wish to reduce the rate of descent, add power. If you want to increase airspeed, lower the nose. If you want to decrease airspeed, raise the nose. At the most basic level, you can think of controlling rate of descent with power, and airspeed with pitch. However, this relationship is interchangeable and there are situations where it is appropriate to adjust airspeed using power and rate of descent using pitch.

By noting the power settings and pitch attitudes for specific airspeeds and rates of descent, you can fly by numbers by returning to a particular combination of airspeed and power to reestablish a particular rate of descent.

To return to straight and level flight, use ten percent of your vertical speed as the number of feet above your desired altitude from which to commence the level-off. Simultaneously add power to the desired cruise setting and return the nose back to a straight and level attitude.

Having practiced the above procedures, you will return to the airport. Having communicated as required (communications will be covered in flight two), you will return to the airport traffic pattern for landing.

Before Landing

Complete the Before Landing checklist.


Having completed the before landing checklist, you need to start reducing airspeed. To do this, you will reduce power and, by pitching to maintain altitude, you will gradually decrease airspeed. Once the airspeed is within the flap operating range (the white arc painted on the airspeed indicator), you may apply the first ten degrees of flaps by moving the wing flap switch down to the ten-degree position.

The exact timing and use of flaps will be determined by local conditions, however it is common practice to apply ten degrees of flaps on the last part of downwind, followed by another ten on the base leg, and the final ten degrees on short final. Once established on final approach with 30 degrees of flaps, you should aim to have stablized the airspeed and be trimmed for your desired final approach speed. As each increment of flaps is added, the nose will tend to pitch up and slight forward pressure may be needed as the flaps are extended to maintain your desired airspeed. If you get too slow, lower the nose. If you get too fast, pitch up. In either case, corrections should be small. If you get too low, add power; if you are too high reduce power.

As you descend, visualize the spot where you wish your glide path to reach the ground. Attempt to maintain this aiming point at the same position in your field of view. Once you are very close to the ground and are about to pass over your aiming point, transfer your vision down the runway. If you have not already done so, reduce the power to idle and, once you are within ten feet of the ground, start to bleed off airspeed by applying very gradual back pressure so that the airplane slowly settles onto the runway. Apply just enough back pressure that the airspeed diminishes and the nose is raised –but not so much that the airplane attempts to climb.

This procedure is known as the flare and is one of the most difficult skills for a new pilot to master. Be patient with yourself as this usually requires a lot of practice. Landings will be discussed in more detail in subsequent lessons.

As you flare, it is essential to keep the airplane longitudinally aligned with the runway and over the centerline. Ailerons should be used to get in position over the centerline and the rudder can be used to maintain longitudinal alignment.

At the moment of touchdown, you should have reduced the airspeed to just above stall speed, the main wheels should touch down first, and the airplane must be on and aligned with the runway centerline. Maintain the backpressure during the rollout and the nose wheel will gently settle onto the runway.

You may now reposition your feet to enable you to press the upper section of the pedals with your toes to apply the brakes. Remember to apply the pressure evenly or the airplane will veer off to one side. Having slowed down to taxi speed, follow the yellow line to take the next turnoff to exit the runway. Once the airplane is completely clear of the runway, stop and complete the After Landing Checklist.

Once the required communications have been completed, taxi to your parking spot and then complete the Shutdown checklist.

You have now completed flight one!

Each actual flight will be followed by a debriefing with your instructor. Few flights contain as much new material as flight one, so spend some time reviewing the material before you proceed to Flight Two.

Flight Two introduces communications and flight by instrument reference in addition to a review of the skills featured in Flight One.