T6 Harvard Aviation

STEP 4 - "MY FIRST SOLO" In the T6 Harvard
I cant begin to explain the thrill of going solo in the T6 Harvard on paper as my vocabulary isn't large enough with adjectives and expletives to convey my delight and feeling of achievement on that day, the picture below was taken just after shut down.... Although ill never make a male model you can see the delight on my face.... It felt like my first ever solo in an aircraft!

I had been having all sorts of problems with the take off and landing that the dream of going solo in the Harvard was starting to slip away, it started to feel like a dream and not a reality. I really felt that I lacked the skill and the money to continue however I thought "I will crack it if I keep at it" and keep at it I did..... until my seventieth hour of duel!

I had 1200 hours of flight time, mainly on the Cessna Caravan 208 (T) and the BN2 Islander, so I was a real "nose dragger" pilot with zero tail time when I encountered the T6 Harvard. Foolishly I thought that I would just hop in and go solo after about 5 hours or so with just 5 hours on tail draggers....Having flown my first hour from the rear of the T6 I soon realised that I couldn't see a damn thing in front of me, especially as I began to turn final? "Surely it must be better in the front".. ...I thought?

I bought my self a little Auster to get some tail time in, and I can honestly say it didn't really help me a bit... In hind sight I should have bought in to a Chipmunk which would have been far more useful in terms of wheeler landings, solo cockpit environment and learning about differential breaking etc.I did learn a little bit more rudder control in the little Auster, however it bore zero resemblance to the mighty T6 and served only to build around 60 hours of tail time to make my log book look more respectable!

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The day of the Solo - On the day, I had landed in the three point attitude with around 5 knots across the runway from the left... This seemed to go well although I felt like it was a fluke due to my previous day of terrible landings! I bumped the machine down and held the stick back until she came to rest.... I always feel the sense of relief when the Harvard stops allowing me to relax (Just a little - Still concentrating hard all the way to the hangar) and taxi the aircraft back in...After this full stop landing I lined up and completed a circuit to land on the main wheels (A wheeler landing) The penny seemed to drop!!

As I came in to the wheeler attitude my peripheral vision seemed to pick up more visual cues and I realised that I was skimming across the runway only inches away.... I reduced the power from 15 inches to idle and then the wheels touched down....Now came for me the counterintuitive action of pushing the stick forward in a "Check" motion and holding up the tail until the airspeed had decreased to around 40 MPH.... At this point I pulled back the stick 'sharpish' to lock in the pin to the tail wheel to stop it castoring and hold the tail down.

This all seemed to go very well.... So off we went and did another 3 wheeler landings. All went pretty much the same to be honest as did the other landings and the counterintuitive move of checking the stick forward began to feel like the norm as did holding it across in to wind and pulling the stick back still in to wind keeping the in to wind wing down.... I had already experienced the wind getting under the wing of the T6 on take off and landing and its a "Nasty business to be in" A wind from the left on take off will really get wild as you lift the tail without in to wind aileron and rudder control, especially on tarmac as the wind and the gyroscopic clockwise affect of the big heavy Hamilton Standard prop takes effect pulling the nose of the machine aggressively to the pilots left!

Having completed around 4 satisfactory take off and landings, Glen said to me "How would you like to do a circuit on your own?" I felt delighted and amazed all at the same time and said "Yes" immediately... To be totally honest I was thrilled and terrified all at the same time as I reminisced of all the times, quite recently that Glen and Neil had saved me from pirouetting down the runway at Duxford! Never one to let something beat me or challenge me I walked over to the T6 Harvard and climbed aboard... With a smile on my face I tapped the combing and said "Look after me" and strapped my self in.... I was confident but not cocky... I knew that I had the skill and the weather was perfect so "What could possibly go wrong?"

I started the Pratt as if it was now second nature, I had given up flying any other aircraft especially Nose draggers until I was competent on this beast...Before I knew it I was on the threshold of runway 24 pushing the throttle open to 34 inches and holding the tail down... Knowing the rear was light I carefully lifted the tail as I gathered speed down the runway... The tail lifted beautifully as I set a shallow climb attitude and lifted off the tarmac at around 80 MPH.... A slight check forward as I reached the take off safety speed and I retracted the gear before the end of the runway... Manifold reduced to 30 inches and the RPM back down to 1900 RPM as I made a left turn on to the down wind leg.... As I approached 1000 feet in the turn I reduced the manifold pressure again to 20 MP as I started my down wind checks... Brakes, Undercarriage below 150 MPH, two greens and check red pegs on the wing tops that indicate that the gear is locked..Mixture is rich, prop forward to the marker, carb heat to hot and reduce MP to 15 inches.... and a stage of flap....The speed is now around 100 MPH as I go around the left base corner to final.... Having called final and reported "Two greens" I continue my approach making sure I am stable at 90 MPH with full flap...

My short final checks are two greens, prop forward mixture forward and full flap selected.... Nice and stable and elected to go for the wheeler landing...Keeping the centre line I bring the aircraft down and flare to an attitude where the wheels are fling just inches above the surface of the runway and chop the power.... As the power is chopped the wheels arrived on the ground as I checked the stick forward and in to wind to check any drift and hold the tail up.... The rudders were used just to keep it pointing in the right direction.... As the speed decayed to around 40 MPH I pulled the stick back to lock the tail wheel and waited for the machine to stop...

I taxied in and parked up..... I let the Pratt run for about 2 minutes to let it settle then carried out the normal shut down procedure.... Having shut down I sat in the seat feeling quite pleased with my self and that is the face of complete happiness in the picture above.... What a day that turned out to be!!!

All in all the best 17 hours of flying I have ever flown ... I will continue now to build on my experience and gain more competency as I move forward to start on the road to getting the Display Authorisation (DA) on the T6 Harvard

STEP 1 - First Flight in the T6 Harvard
STEP 2 -
Starting the T6 Harvard
STEP 3 -
The T6 Harvard Pre Take Off and Taxi
STEP 4 -
First T6 Harvard "Solo"

Starting the Beast
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Take Off at 36" Manifold pressure
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