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Instrument Flying Handbook
Airplane Basic Flight Maneuvers Using Analog Instrumentation
Straight Climbs and Descents

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Instrument Flying


Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Human Factors
Chapter 2. Aerodynamic Factors
Chapter 3. Flight Instruments
Chapter 4. Section I
Airplane Attitude Instrument
Using Analog Instrumentation
Chapter 4. Section II
Airplane Attitude Instrument
Using an Electronic Flight

Chapter 5. Section I
Airplane Basic
Flight Maneuvers
Using Analog Instrumentation
Chapter 5. Section II
Airplane Basic
Flight Maneuvers
Using an Electronic Flight

Chapter 6. Helicopter
Attitude Instrument Flying

Chapter 7. Navigation Systems
Chapter 8. The National
Airspace System

Chapter 9. The Air Traffic
Control System

Chapter 10. IFR Flight
Chapter 11. Emergency

Level Off at Cruising Speed.
Figure 5-29. Level Off at Cruising Speed.

The following method for entering descents is effective
with or without an attitude indicator. First, reduce airspeed
to a selected descent airspeed while maintaining straight-
and-level flight, then make a further reduction in power
(to a predetermined setting). As the power is adjusted,
simultaneously lower the nose to maintain constant airspeed,
and trim off control pressures.

During a constant airspeed descent, any deviation from the
desired airspeed calls for a pitch adjustment. For a constant
rate descent, the entry is the same, but the VSI is primary for
pitch control (after it stabilizes near the desired rate), and the
PSI is primary for power control, Pitch and power must he
closely coordinated when corrections are made, as they are
in climbs. [Figure 5-30]

Leveling Off
The level off from a descent must be started before reaching
the desired attitude. The amount of lead depends upon the
rate of descent and control technique. With too little lead, the
airplane will tend to overshoot the selected altitude unless
technique is rapid. Assuming a 500 fpm rate of descent, lead
the altitude by 100-150 feet for a level off at an airspeed
higher than descending speed. At the lead point, add power to
the appropriate level flight cruise setting. [Figure 5-31] Since
the nose will tend to rise as the airspeed increases, hold
forward elevator pressure to maintain the vertical speed at

the descending rate until approximately 50 feet above the
altitude, and then smoothly adjust the pitch attitude to the
level flight attitude for the airspeed selected.

To level off from a descent at descent airspeed, lead the desired
altitude by approximately 50 feet, simultaneously adjusting
the pitch attitude to level flight an4 adding power to a setting
that will hold the airspeed constant. [Figure 5-32] Trim off
the control pressures and continue with the normal straight-
and-level flight cross-check.

Common Errors in Straight Climbs and Descents

Common errors result from the following faults:
1. Overcontrolling pitch on climb entry. Until the pitch
attitudes related to specific power settings used in
climbs and descents are known, larger than necessary
pitch adjustments are made. One of the most difficult
habits to acquire during instrument training is to
restrain the impulse to disturb a flight attitude until
the result is known. Overcome the inclination to
make a large control: movement for a pitch change,
and learn to apply small control pressures smoothly,
cross-checking rapidly for the results of the change,
and continuing with the pressures as instruments show
the desired results. Small pitch changes can he easily
controlled, stopped, and corrected; large changes are
more difficult to control.