Hello darlings, I’m coming in for a fan stop…

Blog Learning To Fly

…Is absolutely not what I have ever said in my professional career ever. I think, since I started working on the radio at the tender age of 16 I have ever only signed one autograph for a “fan” and I’m pretty sure at that time it was only because one girl dared her mate to do it… needless to say I turned bright red, scribbled something down and ran away. Radio presenters are meant to be heard and not seen after all. Why am I telling you this? because “Fan Stop” puts a picture in my mind of landing the aircraft to rapturous applause, flowers (and underwear) being thrown towards the pilot in admiration of a job well done… clearly this happens every time. doesn’t it?

Actually, its pretty clear that it doesn’t mean this at all. A “Fan Stop” means landing without engine power. Your Fan (propellor) has stopped. It’s the call you make to the tower (ATC) ahead of practicing the maneuver which covers an unpowered landing. “Golf November Kilo, Fan Stop”.

And you know what? Its quite easy… I think I actually find landing without power much easier than landing with, there’s less to think about. You just worry about your airspeed and height using pitch and flaps, and maybe a bit of side-slip (turning the ailerons in opposite directions to the rudder to lose height)… its an essential skill that every pilot must learn. In my day-job of supporting radio stations infrastructure I’m always telling people that there are only 2 types of computer, ones that have failed, and ones that have not failed ‘yet’ and the same goes for engines.

How many times have you seen, or been that broken down car on the motorway? You feel the splutter of the engine and a loss of power, it cuts out and you’re slowing, rapidly from 70 in the middle lane. Calmly, you dip the clutch, indicate, and move to the hard shoulder where hopefully you can stop safely and investigate the issue. Imagine that happening in the air. You can’t just pull over to the side and wait for the RAC, you need to get the aircraft onto the ground, safely… and to do so, not only do you need to know how to fly without power, but turn what is essentially a fridge with wings into a glider… hence “Fan Stops” which are, basically the art of practicing landing without power.

I love it. I literally LOVE doing this kind of thing. You feel like an action hero, the bloke that saves the day, nay, saves the world. the buzz (even though its simulated engine fail) is incredible. I ended today’s lesson, exhausted. Not physically you understand but mentally. For a few minutes after landing your mind is spinning with all of the information you have had to take on-board and process, carrying out repeated circuits is a metal work-out like no other, you wouldn’t believe the amount you have to do and think about, the information influx is intense but it’s worth it… it really is. Flying is absolutely the coolest thing a person could do. Don’t let the work put you off. Ever. If you have ever dreamed of flight, DO IT. Take a taster lesson and get yourself into the air.