I thought I’d take a break from my stability and control homework to write about my week. Actually there isn’t much to tell but the idea of getting my textbook out of my sight for a little while seemed like a much-needed vacation. I am very much looking forward to the Thanksgiving break next week even though it doesn’t mean a break from homework – having two days off from classes will be a gift itself. I have a stability and control exam on Tuesday (of which I am extremely frightened) and an experimental methods exam the next Tuesday. After those tests are over I will start worrying about final exams since they will only be about two weeks away at that time. Christmas break is going to be like heaven. I realized this week that my break is actually three weeks long instead of the usual two. What am I going to do with myself for all of that time?
As usual I am taking a look at my planner to see what has happened over the past week. The kinds of things that I deemed important enough to write down were homework assignment due dates, an exam date, a couple of meetings, and my shopping schedule for Friday night. I guess those are the kinds of things that have kept me busy but they don’t inspire me to write about them. We did have a structures exam on Wednesday that I was hopeful of getting a good grade on. It didn’t quite turn out as I expected and that’s probably all anyone wants to know about that.
Last Sunday I got to fly in the AeMES department airplane. It is a Cessna 172 and has four seats. In my stability and control class we have a project that involves using the plane and my group did our experiment last Sunday morning at 8 AM. Two of the members of my group refused to fly, due to the fact that we had heard that many people have become violently ill during flights, so that left Danny and me to run the experiment from the plane. Our group project was to calculate the phugoid point of the plane and the experiment wasn’t made out to be the most pleasant. Here’s a quick run-through of the procedure:
1) Fly the plan straight and level at 100 mph
2) Put a clamp on the stick to indicate its position at this flight condition
3) Pull back on the stick until the airspeed is 80 mph
4) Quickly move the stick back to the clamp position and let go
If you can imagine what happens after these steps have been followed you’ll know why I was a little afraid of getting sick during the flight. (I didn’t eat breakfast that morning just in case.) After the stick is moved back to the 100 mph position the plane pitches downward quite sharply and picks up speed. Eventually the inherent stability of the plane will get it back to the original equilibrium at 100 mph but not until after about sixty seconds of oscillating about this equilibrium. Even though I was nervous about the initial pitch down it turned out to be a lot of fun. I am a serious roller coaster lover and somehow a small maneuver like this at two thousand feet impressed me more than the most modern thrill ride. I never realized how strange Paine’s Prairie looks amongst the dense woods of North Florida but from the air it sticks out like a sore thumb. Also there is a huge lake just east of Gainesville that I didn’t even know existed. It’s amazing the things you learn from a bird’s eye view.
I had better get back to work now. There are three other lateral stability derivatives in my assignment that aren’t going to derive themselves. Tomorrow I am planning to spend going over my class notes and trying to get the hang of this material. I didn’t do so well on the first stability exam so I can’t afford to screw up again this time. I am so tired. Where’s the Coke machine again?