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NEWSLETTER QUESTION: WHY DOES THE PILOT IN COMMAND ALWAYS FLY THE AIRCRAFT FROM THE LEFT HAND SEAT?

Interesting question with a few possible answers. We accepted:

Tradition and custom

Because in WWI all the pilots came from the horse cavalry and they mounted from the left handside. Therefore, the pilot entered from the left handside.

Many of you googled the answer and came up with this one (word for word almost):

"The reason pilots (at least the Captain or PIC) sit on the left side has to do with original 2-seat single-engine prop-driven planes, and Newton's third law which states that for every action there is an opposite and equal reaction. 

In most original aircraft engine designs, the aircraft propellor rotated to counterclockwise when viewed from the pilot's seat. Mr. Newton says that when you apply power, the aircraft will rotate along its longitudinal axis clockwise, or to the right. Therefore, if the pilot occupies the left seat when s/he is flying by him/herself, then that slight change in the lateral Center of Gravity will help compensate for the prop torque. So the left seat PIC position has been standard practice since the 1930's, even though more modern props turn clockwise" (source https://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20060915002405AArq1TN). 
 

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MOSQUITO - THE FLIGHT OF A LIFETIME

After the air show was over, event organiser Tom Williams was also given the chance to fly in the Mosquito, this time it was from Masterton to Matamata. Here is his story.

When the Mosquito was scheduled for its first flight on September 29, 2012, aviators from far and wide set off for Ardmore; such is the mystique and pulling power of this famous World War Two Fighter-Bomber.

My previous visits to Ardmore were made to keep in contact with Warren Denholm, boss of AVSPECS, to check on the progress of the Mosquito's rebuild during the lead-up to its first air show flight at Wanaka.  During a meeting with the Mossie's American owner, Jerry Yagen, I suggested a deal that would bring KA114 / ZK-MOS to Wings over Wairarapa.

As we as air show organisers were paying for the Mosquito to fly from Ardmore to Masterton, I suggested that we put one of our sponsors in the navigator's seat on the way down.  Needless to say we would have one very happy sponsor.  When asked who it was that we wanted to put in the spare seat on the way back.  I said I had an old bloke in mind but, after further questions, I had to fess up and say it was me!

The Mosquito flight was all that you could expect and probably more. The take-off runway was 24 with a light breeze from the south.

Keith Skilling was pilot in command on this occasion.  He and David Phillips have done all of the Mosquito's test and display flying so far. Taxiing down to the 24 threshold, my first impression was how hot it was in the cockpit, even with the two small windows open.

I couldn't help but notice a reasonably-large crowd sitting on the Gold Pass grandstand while waiting to witness what was probably the last Mosquito take-off from Hood Aerodrome for a very long time. Keith pulled the aircraft up facing the sealed runway and started his cockpit checks.

I was taught to fly by a veteran Mosquito Pathfinder pilot Berek Dalcolm, CFI at the Wanganui aero club in the late 1950s, so the cockpit checks I learned then for the old Tiger Moth seemed to be still relevant as I watched Keith going through the same process.  I still remember the cockpit check list well.  Trim set for take-off; mixture, fully rich; fuel on and quantity sufficient; instruments checked; oil pressure ok; altimeter set at QNH; harness, tight and secure, so when I saw Keith going through the same process in an aircraft from roughly the same era as the Tiger, it could have been Berek sitting beside me in the pilot's seat.

With the cockpit checks finished, each engine was run-up to check for any mag-drop.  This was obviously no Moth; it was a very powerful Tiger! 

When we were all set to go, Keith closed both of the windows, opened-up the throttles and taxied out onto the sealed runway.  He checked we were clear left and right, lined-up on runway 24 and called Masterton's air traffic control tower to say we were rolling.  The big Merlins' growl grew to a serious roar.

Keith was very busy on take-off; initially with the wheel brakes then, when the tail comes up, the rudder.

The climb-out was fast and the speed built-up quickly.  As the wheels came-up there was a bit of a pause when the right gear didn't quite fully retract.

Keith waited for 30 seconds before recycling the gear.  Both legs came down and locked; then there was a pause before the gear up came up again.  By this time we were west of Carterton at 6,500ft and climbing fast.

The gear locked away safely this time.  Keith had the throttles, pitch and mixture set; both hands on the stick and then went hard right-hand down.  The Mosquito's wings went from parallel to the horizon to 180 degrees in an instant and we were heading down at over 300mph.

With the wings nearly level, the threshold of runway 10 arrived very quickly.  Again, Keith used both hands and plenty of muscle to bank steeply left around Masterton's curved display line at 350mph.  I managed a quick look at the crowd in the grandstand but, as we are going so fast, it was only a blur.  The 100ft minimum was reduced considerably and we straightened-up along runway 06 and climbed-out to 3,000ft on track for Turangi to the north.

Looking at the cockpit layout and instrumentation it all seemed basic and very 1940s; essentially the same as the Tiger Moth and Dominie, just more of them. 

Soon we approached Waiouru and on up the right side corridor of the Desert Road.  Keith made a radio call to alert any Desert Road traffic, then let-down to 600ft.  My imagination started to think about the 633 Squadron movie and its low-level Mosquito practise runs through the Scottish mountain valleys. 

The aircraft's 250mph speed was much more evident at low level.  We passed over Lake Taupo then in no time the town of Tokoroa was beneath us.  Continuing north, the towns of Putaruru, Tirau and Matamata followed, arriving over the latter at 3,000 ft.  After being cleared for a low and fast run from the north, Keith again used both hands on the stick and turned through 180 degrees, right hand down.  As we ran down Matamata airfield's grass runway, our speed exceeded 300mph and the G-force was noticeable; but not too much for an out of touch old pilot like me.

Keith made a quick climb-out to 1500ft and rolled from a hard-right to tight hard-left turn, bringing a bit more G-force before performing another fast-run down Matamata's north runway.

We pulled-up and out for a left-hand circuit.  There were no problems with the landing gear this time but the grass runway looked short!

Keith was keen to get us down on the threshold a.s.a.p. so there was a bit of a double landing but she settled down well on the main wheels.

The roll-out was the same as the take-off with Keith having plenty of work to do on the wheel-brake.  We taxied up to the club house and, after run-down checks, Keith pulled the fuel cut-off handles and then…silence, apart from my ears ringing from the roar of the two big Merlins.

When asked if I enjoyed it, I had no answer!!  Yes of course it was the flight of a lifetime.

 


 

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