Pilot's Tip of the Week
Featuring Wally Moran
"Okay, we got the engine started. We're getting ready to taxi. How can we wow our fellow aviators when in the taxi mode? It seems like such a subtle area. What would you offer us?"
"As we begin to taxi, you need to think about how much power you need to make the airplane move. I often see people add a bunch of power even before releasing the brakes just sort of as a habit; just step on the gas and see what we need. Most of the time, the airplane will roll away from the blocks at idle power or very near idle power. So there's really no need to use any more power than necessary. You're just blowing things around and you're making noise.
Then of course, we need to check the brakes shortly after we start to move. Just a smooth touch on the brakes will be adequate to let you know that they're working.
My plan is to move the passengers if possible without them ever realizing they've left the blocks. I try to move the airplane as smoothly as I can in all phases of flight. And one of the things you can do to smooth out your taxiing is to work on your stopping technique.
If we approach a stop with a lot of brakes on, as we often do with our car, you'll get a fore and aft jerk as the airplane comes to a stop. If you can be slowly releasing brake pressure as the airplane comes to a stop, you won't even feel that airplane stop. So now next time you take a ride on an airliner, you can judge the airmanship of that captain and see how well he or she stops the airplane. You'll notice a difference if you pay attention. And you can do the same thing with your Cessna.
Another airmanship issue on taxi is using too much power. Many pilots have the power up, and they're actually riding the brakes. So all they're doing is wasting fuel and wasting their brakes. Further, that heats up the brakes so that they may not be available should they be needed for a high speed aborted takeoff or some other serious taxi problem. So never use any more power than is necessary."
Next week's tip: Engine trouble on takeoff