Tag Archives: stall exercise

Landing at a car racing circuit

Albi is small city close to Toulouse. It is mainly famous for its UNESCO World Heritage Site Cathedral Sainte Cécile and the museum of the painter Toulouse-Lautrec. I had been there twice, but I hadn’t yet written a post about the city. Today I’ll write about another special feature it has.

In Albi there is a car racing circuit. I have a colleague who likes cars, motor-bikes and has been already using that circuit in one of its open days.

Yesterday, I wrote a post about the stall exercises we performed in last Saturday’s flight lesson.

Let me connect the dots. On Saturday, while having lunch, our colleague told us that the circuit in Albi was having an open day that precise day. He encouraged us to propose to our instructor to fly to Albi. And here comes the catch: “Why?” Because the aerodrome of Albi, our colleague explained to us, is embedded in the car racing circuit!

We gave it a try, demanded our instructor to go to Albi and succeeded. See below the flight path recorded with my Garmin:

Flight route Toulouse Lasbordes (LFCL) - Albi (LFCI).

In the following screenshot of the Visual Approach Chart (carte VAC) you may see how when the circuit IS active the runway of the aerodrome is shortened as the circuit crosses the runway! (You may download the chart here, PDF, 360KB).

Visual Approach Chart (VAC) for Albi aerodrome when the car racing circuit is active.

You may see it better below, in the Google maps view, how the circuit intersects the runway:

Albi car racing circuit and aerdrome.

Finally, enjoy the video of the final approach of our flight. If you pay attention to it, you’ll notice the cars racing in the circuit while we are approaching and how we are in fact touching down only within the allowable space when the circuit is active:

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Stall exercise

Yesterday, I wrote about a documentary on the AF447 accident. Within the video, a flight instructor performs a real stall exercises and he mentions that this is taught in the first lectures of flight instruction.

As I mentioned in the post, I learnt about the documentary while having lunch with 2 colleagues. I was telling them “I’d like to perform those stall exercises to see what feeling does your body have and how you instinctively react to it and how you have to consciously correct that reaction”.  As the old adage goes “be careful what you wish for ’cause you might get it”.

After lunch, we headed to the aeroclub to have our class. Thierry, our instructor, opened by asking whether we had seen that documentary we had been talking about. Then, he mentioned “let’s do today stall exercises!” 🙂

Shortly, from the Wikipedia:

[…] a stall is a reduction in the lift coefficient generated by a foil as angle of attack increases. This occurs when the critical angle of attack of the foil is exceeded. […]
Stalls in fixed-wing flight are often experienced as a sudden reduction in lift as the pilot increases angle of attack and exceeds the critical angle of attack […].

The theory of the exercise was easy: fly up to 3,000 ft, reduce the power of the engine down to idle, try to keep the altitude by pulling the stick backwards (nosing up), keep pulling the stick backwards when the stall alarm sounds off, wait until the aircraft starts buffeting, cannot maintain altitude and falls off… then push a little the stick (nose down), recover speed (above stall speed), start nosing up again while increasing power up to max rpm, get to 3,000 ft again. Easy.

The practice… well, my colleague was doing his exercises first while I was sitting at the back. I went from being warm due to the sunny weather to feeling uneasy to experiencing this cold sweat…

You may see the video below with one of the stall exercises performed by my colleague. You’ll notice the stall alarm (in this case it is just an alarm, not a voice saying “stall”):

Apologies for 1) bad quality of the video performed by my not-so-smartphone and 2) for not having recorded a video of my own stall exercises… I was too stressed with them 🙂

Note: For the record, in the documentary it is mentioned that pupils get to practice stall in their first lessons. Yesterday’s was my 10th flight in order to obtain the PPL (private pilot licence), up to then I had completed just slightly above 6 flight hours.


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