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Beginners Guide to I.C. Flight – As Published by the BMFA -PART 4
February 12, 2012
4:54 pm
Forum Posts: 111
Member Since:
February 1, 2012
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Up to this point any problems caused by an engine failure in flight will have been handled by your
instructor. Now that you have gone solo it is time for you to learn how to deal with a ‘deadstick’
landing yourself. Engine failure can, of course, occur at any time in a flight: the most difficult times
to cope with are:
a. Shortly after take-off
b. On the landing approach
If the engine should cut shortly after take-off before much height has been gained, just lower the
nose of the aircraft to maintain flying speed and make the best landing you can straight ahead,
making only very small turns to avoid any obstacles. Don’t try to turn back to the landing area - to
attempt to do this is to invite disaster.
If you lose the engine on the approach, much the same advice applies. Lower the nose, keep the
speed up and land straight ahead as best you can.
Engine failure at height is another matter. Height gives you time to assess the aircraft’s position
relative to the landing area and to position the aircraft in a descending circuit aiming to touch
down one-third of the way up the landing strip. Always remember that a lot of height is lost in a
descending turn and that the nose must be kept down to maintain flying speed. Without any
slipstream from the propeller the flying controls will be less positive, particularly the elevator, so
keep the speed up at all times. Your circuit should be planned so that the aircraft is at about twice
normal circuit height halfway down the downwind leg (Key Position 1) and still about twice the
normal turn-in height as the final turn to line up with the runway is begun, (Key Position 2). Other
pilots need to know that an emergency is in progress so always call ‘DEADSTICK’ very loudly as
soon as you recognise that your engine has stopped. If you hear this call when you are flying,
keep your aircraft clear of the circuit until the emergency is over.
It is worth noting that total engine failures in flight are not always inevitable. Often an engine will
go ‘sick’, particularly shortly after take-off. The engine misfires, loses power and generally shows
every sign of stopping - which it will if allowed to continue. However, by reducing power to about
two-thirds throttle you may be able to retain sufficient power to continue the circuit and land
safely. This, of course, means that your engine was set too lean to start with so ensure that you
open up the needle valve a little to give a richer run next time and do a ground check to ensure
that your engine really is running slightly on the rich side.

For safety reasons, your instructor will begin this exercise by teaching forced landings with the
engine throttled back. This will enable you to avoid any potentially disastrous situations and also
enable more practice approaches to be made since you can overshoot and climb back up to try
Your instructor will get you to climb the aircraft to a fair height upwind of the landing area and
then throttle right back. At this point, put the aircraft into a normal nose-down glide and your
instructor will take over control and demonstrate the descending circuit and the two ‘key’ positions
- downwind and final.
You will be shown how to reach the first ‘key’ position halfway down the downwind leg at the right
height, either by taking a short cut to get there if the aircraft is a little too low, or by extending the
circuit if you are too high. Your instructor will continue on the downwind leg until the aircraft is just
past the downwind end of the landing strip, then turn cross-wind. The point at which this turn is
made will depend on the height of the aircraft and the windspeed. A low height or a brisk wind will
require an early turn and too much height or a calm day will require a later turn. Your instructor
will demonstrate this to you.
The second ‘key’ position is the point where the final turn onto the approach path is made. Your
instructor will show you the correct height but will also demonstrate that this will vary with the wind
conditions. He will also show you that a lot of height is lost in this final turn to line up with the
runway. Once the turn is completed it is only a matter of keeping the wings level and the flying
speed up to complete the landing, although your instructor will perform an overshoot to save time
on repeating the exercise. You will then have the opportunity to try the exercise out for yourself.
Your instructor will be at hand to help you and to give you advice during the exercise.
When your judgement has improved sufficiently your instructor will get you to stop the engine in
flight and perform the forced landing completely without power. You will find that the aircraft loses
considerably more height in the glide and that descending turns require the nose to be well down
to maintain flying speed and that the flying controls are quite ‘sloppy’.
The exercise is exactly the same as before but, of course, this time you are committed to a
landing. Always remember that height is your ally - it is better to land a long way down the runway
than to have to land short in possibly rough ground. It is possible to rectify most errors of height
by modifying the last part of the circuit. Your instructor will show you that if your aircraft is too high
after you have completed the turn from downwind to crosswind you can lose height by extending
the crosswind leg and turning in to the runway when your height is right. This may even mean
flying beyond the landing path and making an ‘S’ turn to get back, but this is quite permissible in
an emergency.
Similarly, if the aircraft is too low on turning crosswind, the turn can be continued directly onto the
landing path.
This exercise should be practised until you can cope with an engine cut at various ‘safe’ heights
at the upwind end of the airfield. Your instructor will then extend your skills by closing the throttle
on you at different points in the air so that whenever an engine failure is experienced ‘for real’ you
are safe and competent enough to get the aircraft down in the right place without endangering

Your next few flights should continue to cover all that you have learned so far. Each flight should
consist of:
a. Take-off and climb to safe height
b. Turns, figures of eight, squares and general flying
c. Square circuits and overshoots (both right and left-hand circuits)
d. Landings - including some forced landings
Study also the Safety Code in your BMFA Members’ Handbook and make sure that you not only
understand the rules and the reasons for them but follow them! Make sure that you are also
familiar with your club rules in the same way
When you (and your instructor) are confident with your performance in the air and your
knowledge on the ground, you will be ready to take your ‘A’ Certificate of the Achievement
Scheme. This test is carried out by a Registered Examiner and your club should have at least two
such Examiners. The test is very straightforward and consists of:
a) Carry out pre-flight safety checks as required by the BMFA Safety Codes, starting the engine
when appropriate
b) Take off and complete a left (or right) hand circuit and overfly the take-off area
c) Fly a ‘figure of eight’ course with the cross-over point in front of the pilot, height to be constant
d) Fly a rectangular circuit and approach with appropriate use of the throttle and perform a
landing on the designated landing area.
e) If the engine stops during the landing the model may be retrieved and the engine restarted to
enable the remaining parts of the test to be completed.
f) Take off and complete a left (or right) hand circuit and overfly the take-off area
g) Fly a rectangular circuit at a constant height in the opposite direction to the landing circuit
flown in (d).
h) Perform a simulated deadstick landing with the engine at idle, beginning at a safe height
(approx. 200 ft) heading into wind over the take-off area, the landing to be made in a safe
manner on the designated landing area.
i) Remove model and equipment from take-off/landing area.
j) Complete post-flight checks required by the BMFA Safety Codes.
k) Answer correctly a minimum of five questions on safety matters, based on the BMFA Safety
Code for General Flying and local flying rules.
All manoeuvres must be carried out in front of the pilot.
Hand launching is not allowed unless your examiner is satisfied that the flying field surface is not
useable for a take off so be sure you have practised Section 5 thoroughly.
The Certificate is official recognition of the fact that you have achieved ‘safe solo’ standard and
your club may now allow you to fly unsupervised. Remember that, whilst the gaining of this
Certificate is an important milestone, it is a long way from being the end of the road and a licence
to fly as you please! Your aim now should be to polish your flying and begin to explore the world
of aerobatics. You should try to become fully confident in handling your aircraft in the air and able
to perform accurately all the manoeuvres you have learned. You should only be satisfied with a
perfect landing every time!
Now that you have got your ‘A’ Certificate, don’t forget that your instructor is still there! He will be
able to help you iron out any minor (or major!) problems and give you invaluable advice and help
when you need it.

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