Airplane Climbs by Reference to Instruments

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ATC may have you initially climb after you contact them to reduce the chances of encountering hazards on the ground. If that is the case, use the same climb power settings and pitch attitudes that you would during a VFR climb. To begin the climb, add power to climb settings, then use the AI to establish a gradual nose-up pitch. For most airplanes, a 3-degree pitch-up angle from level on the artificial horizon would be a good place to start. Watch the airspeed as the nose pitches up, and if the airspeed drops below the correct value, slightly reduce the backpressure on the control yoke. Keep the inputs small to avoid overcontrolling the airplane. Once the airspeed is established at the correct climb value, hold a constant pitch attitude to maintain the airspeed. Monitor the altimeter and directional gyro to make sure you do not overshoot the desired altitude or stray from the heading ATC has assigned. Don’t forget to keep the ball centered through proper rudder use during the climb. As you approach the assigned altitude, slowly lower the nose to a level attitude by using the artificial horizon. As the speed builds, reduce power to cruise settings and trim for level flight at that altitude. Keep scanning the gauges; don’t focus on just the attitude indicator or the altimeter.

Straight-and-level flight and turns
To maintain straight-and-level flight, establish the correct power setting, then trim the plane to hold a constant altitude with neutral pressure on the elevator control. Proper use of trim can help reduce your workload and fatigue factor. Use the attitude indicator as the primary pitch and bank reference, but also scan the directional gyro for proper heading, and check the altimeter.

Use the turn and bank indicator to establish coordinated, standardrate turns. Using standard-rate turns whenever you change headings will avoid steep banks and possible disorientation. It will also reduce the chances of turning past the desired heading. Remember to use a slight amount of backpressure on the control yoke to maintain constant altitude during turns. It is quite common for new instrument students to overbank the plane during turns and allow the nose to drop. Keep the control inputs small and smooth, and scan the gauges.

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