This morning presented itself with inviting and kind skies and, dare I say, friendly winds. It was the kind of morning a pilot hopes for after a long week of crummy weather and busy life schedules. I arrived at the club around 0745 and found the conditions there were just as nice as when I left the house an hour earlier. Every windsock in sight - there is at each runway threshold - was lying peacefully calm with no apparent desire to shift, stand tall, or even produce a mild flutter.
Today's mission was to conquer the landing flare of the Aeroprakt A-22LS, commonly known as "Sierra Mike" at the club for the last two characters of it's registration number being "SM". It was built at the Aeroprakt factory in Ukraine and was designed by a former Antonov engineer named Yuri Yakovlev. The airplane is a two-place bird and is considered to be a certified light-sport aircraft. It is powered by a 100 horsepower Rotax 912ULS engine and has a three-bladed propeller. The A-22LS is also fitted with a ballistic recovery parachute, commonly installed on Cirrus aircraft, but we hoped to not need it today. Flying with me today was the club's chief flight instructor Captain Afaq who is a decorated pilot and a native of Pakistan and once flew in the Pakistani Air Force. I have flown with him only once before but that one flight was a memorable one because it was my first time flying the Aeroprakt.
The flight started fairly uneventfully with a normal start, check of the engine, taxi and departure with the intention of making left traffic to runway 16 as shown below:
As the first trip around the traffic circuit (or pattern) progressed I noticed that this aircraft has a very strong left-turning tendency, thanks to the 100 horsepower engine. But the one thing I want to focus on for this post is the sight picture from the left seat in relation to the position of the nose wheel either to the left or right or directly lined up with the centerline of the runway.
Coming in on final, we cleared the second road at approximately 200 feet AGL and continued in with the engine at idle. Flaps were set to "Position 2" which is approximately 20 degrees down. One thing to note on this aircraft is the flaps are actually combined with the ailerons making them flaperons!
The aircraft is very stable when trimmed correctly, but there are two large support members that form a V-shape in the cockpit. You can see them in the first picture above. Also, the cockpit has a distinct hump just behind the propeller and spinner.
When approaching the landing flare it's important to remember that from the pilot seat you are actually sitting to the left of the runway centerline and, therefore, you should rely on lining up the aircraft so the runway centerline is in line with your right leg. This definitely gives the illusion that the airplane's nose is pointed to the right, but ah ha... in reality the airplane is perfectly centered on a runway that is only 20 feet in width!
Regardless of the airplane you fly, or are learning to fly, remember that the sight picture you have looking out of the windshield may be an illusion of reality. Find the difference between what LOOKS correct and what IS correct, then memorize that correct sight picture and nail it every time!