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I've been working the Pilot's Operating Handbook (POH) for about a year. I used one of the available POHs as a starting point, and copied most of the format from the typical Cessna POH. I originally was using OpenOffice (an open-source office suite - sort of a MS Office clone), as the POH I used as a starting point was in MS Word format, but I don't own Word at home. I wanted a freely available word processor that could open Word documents, and was available on both Mac OS X (home computer) and Windows (work laptop, which goes with me when I travel). It worked well enough, but I was having trouble getting it to put the diagrams where I wanted.

So I looked around some more, and decided to try LaTeX. LaTeX is a set of programs that is commonly used in the academic community to produce technical documents, papers, text books, etc. It produces great output, and is perfectly suited to a POH, but there is a fairly steep learning curve. The software is freely available, but it is almost essential to purchase some reference books. I ended up with "LaTeX: A Document Preparation System", Leslie Lamport (the main author of LaTeX) and "The LaTeX Companion", 2nd Edition" - two excellent, almost essential references.

It was a fair bit of work to convert from OpenOffice to LaTeX format, but I'm glad I made the change. LaTeX handles diagrams extremely well, and it can be integrated with gnuplot to produce the graphs for the performance section. Gnuplot is a command-line driven program, which was a bit of a stretch for me, as a long-time Mac user, but the documentation is very good. And there are some advantages to the command line - it is easy to set up one file with formatting commands that will be used in all the graphs, and then have each file that creates a graph call that set of common commands. This ensures that all graphs look alike. I also set up one master file that calls each file that creates the graphs. So I issue one command in gnuplot, and it remakes all the graphs using the latest set of data files. I've put in some "dummy" performance data for now, but it will be an easy task to insert the correct data files once I've done the flight testing.

The current, draft POH (very large file - 1.6 MB) is looking pretty good. There is lots of red text, which represents stuff that needs to be completed, or needs to be reviewed. Some of the page breaks are in strange places, but I won't worry about those until I have finished editing the text. I'll put the LaTeX and gnuplot files on this site once the POH is complete, just in case anyone is interested. They are available on request in the meantime.

Update - 21 Dec 2012 - The latest version of the LaTeX and gnuplot files needed to create my POH is now available via my POH repository at GitHub. You can either grab it using git, or click the "ZIP" button to download via Zip.

Update - 16 Mar 2015 - The latest version of the POH is available in PDF format on the Downloads section of this web site.

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  • POH. You may want to look at the Single Spin Recovery Cessna Aircraft developed for the USAF T-37. One memorized procedure covers inverted, flat and normal spin. It goes something like this.

    Throttle - idle
    Rudder and ailerons - neutral
    Stick - abruptly full aft and hold
    Rudder - apply full rudder opposite spin direction (opposite turn needle) and hold
    Stick - full forward after spinning stops and recover from dive

  • This is great, if one recovery procedure will work for that aircraft. Every aircraft design has different spin characteristics, and the recovery procedure that works for one aircraft type may kill you in another one. One of the aims of spin testing is to confirm which recovery procedures work best from different types of spins.

    I will do upright spin testing. I haven't decided yet whether I will do inverted spin testing - most of the vertical tail is working in undisturbed air, so it should recover well. And I almost certainly won't do flat spin testing, as I'm not aware that anyone else has done flat spin testing. Some aircraft have unrecoverable flat spin modes, and I don't want to be the one who figures out that the RV-8 won't recover from a flat spin.

    Kevin Horton

    Comment last edited on about 5 years ago by Kevin Horton
  • I found the correct Cessna T-37 single spin recovery. Correct procedure is:

    Throttle - idle
    Rudder and ailerons - neutral
    Stick - abruptly full aft and hold
    Rudder - abruptly apply full rudder opposite spin direction (opposite turn needle) and hold
    Stick - abruptly full forward one turn after applying rudder
    Controls - neutral after spinning stops and recover from dive

    Comment last edited on about 5 years ago by Kevin Horton
  • This spin recovery should be good for erect, inverted and flat spins.

  • Throttles--idle
    Twin engine.