Climbs and Descents
Reference: FS2002 Ground School Text, FS9 Flying Lessons

Climbing and descending is a three-step process: Attitude, power, and trim. This homework assignment explains how those work together to achieve smooth climbs and descents.

Homework assignment: Read Class 3: Climbs, in the Ground School Text (FS2002); or Lesson 3: Climbs and Descents (FS2004)

Technique: For the Cessna 182, climb with power at full or 24 inches of manifold pressure (whichever is less - see picture), raise the nose and hold pitch to maintain 90-100 knots and trim for climb attitude. This should give you a climb rate of about 500-700 feet per minute. About 100 feet before reaching cruise altitude, smoothly start pitching down to arrest the climb. Use trim and let the airplane accelerate. Reduce power to 23 inches manifold pressure. Then set your trim, by making slight adjustments on power to achieve level flight resulting in an indicated airspeed of approximately 120 knots.

Vertical Speed Indicator showing a descent rate of 500 feet per minute.

To descend from cruise, lower the nose slightly and reduce power to approximately 18 inches of manifold pressure. This should give you a descent rate of approximately 700 fpm while maintaining airspeed of 120 knots. For a more rapid descent reduce the throttle further. Try and maintain constant airspeed from cruise through descent using throttle and pitch.

Leave propeller rpm set at about 2300 rpm for all climb, cruise and descent operations.

Extra credit: Reference speeds for aircraft are referred to as “V” speeds. Some of these are fixed for a particular aircraft model, others vary depending on the aircraft weight.

Two of these are related to climb performance…

Vx refers to the “best angle-of-climb” airspeed. This is the speed to gain the most altitude per unit of distance covered over the ground.

The other is Vy, which refers to the aircraft’s “best rate-of-climb” airspeed. This is the speed to gain the most altitude per unit of time.

You normally climb at Vy, which is faster than Vx unless you need to clear an obstacle typically on takeoff.

Practice flight one: Learn To Fly – Student Pilot – Lesson 3: Climbs and Descents

Complete the next lesson "Takeoffs," then fly the additional practice flight in that lesson.


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