The WSC aircraft has very little momentum because of its relative light weight as compared to airplanes. Therefore, it is important that pilots learn to manage the kinetic energy of the WSC. Higher speed and higher power is higher energy. Lower speed and lower power is lower energy. The ability for a pilot to maintain high energy levels in turbulent air and while near the ground is the basis for energy management for WSC.
Energy management should first be practiced at higher altitudes. While maintaining straight-and-level flight, power is increased and decreased, and pitch control must be used. The pilot should start at the trim position and with the appropriate cruise throttle setting. As power is smoothly applied towards full throttle, the WSC aircraft pitch attitude attempts to increase. The pilot should decrease the pitch to maintain level flight. This results in a high energy level. Once this application is held for a couple seconds, the pilot should then smoothly reduce power to the cruise power setting and increase pitch to maintain level flight. The WSC aircraft is now back to at a lower trim/cruise power in a medium energy level.
Again, increase power and reduce pitch to stay level attaining a high energy level. Now, reduce power to idle and as the nose lowers, increase pitch. The pilot must be aware of the decreasing energy levels occurring during this phase of the maneuver for this is usually a precursor to accidents when approaching the runway. The pilot should recognize this scenario and promptly apply the power as appropriate to prevent the aircraft from descending. Additionally, the pilot must be aware of the slow flight and stall characteristics to prevent a stall and to maintain a specified heading.
Once the student masters this maneuver successfully at higher altitudes, energy management can be practiced with low passes down the runway in calm winds at higher energy levels, then at the lower trim/cruise power medium energy level, and finally higher to medium trim/cruise power energy levels. Low passes over the runway fine tunes the student’s skills for energy management and is an excellent exercise to prepare students for landings.
It is important to understand that higher energy levels should be used while maneuvering near the ground especially in turbulent or crosswind conditions. This is discussed in Chapter 7, Takeoff and Departure Climbs, that higher energy is recommended as the WSC aircraft lifts off and initially climbs out from the runway.
Higher energy is also recommended for a power on approach where the airspeed is higher than the normal approach speed; and the power is higher than the normal approach power. There is still a descent rate, but the WSC aircraft has more overall energy to handle turbulence and crosswinds. [Figure 6-20]