Friday, August 26, 2011

Ups and Downs on Landings

Still staying in the pattern at Sterling, trying to get my tail wheel landings under better control. On Tuesday Ed suggested I land on the paved runway rather than the grass, which I tend to prefer because the line-up isn’t quite so critical on the wide grass runway, giving me a chance to concentrate on other things (like getting the stick all the way back – at just the right time, of course). At first the runway seemed just a bit narrow (though it's 40 feet wide), and I added “poor line-up” to my usual woes (high and fast on final). Various combinations of these issues resulted in 3 go-arounds before I made a successful landing. And that one wasn’t the greatest. So much for Tuesday.

I reviewed my hat cam video and realized that my turn to base is not very consistent – so I usually end up high, or very rarely low, on final approach. I resolved to really try to make this better on the next flight, which was Friday morning. I told Ed about my theories and asked if he would fly one pattern as a demo, which he did (for some reason seeing a demo always helps me to do better). I don’t like to use ground landmarks in the pattern (since these only work for one runway), but Ed mentioned that he starts his turn just after a small pond that I had also noticed when flying runway 34. Fair enough, and that landmark helped me to be more consistent. I did four pretty decent landings, one go-around, and one bouncer (saved with power), unfortunately on the last one. I did slips without prompting on two of the landings (pilot in command!), which is good. Still seeking the elusive goal of "consistency," but I still felt pretty good about this session. I posted one hat cam landing video on Flickr.
Typical pattern for 34 at Sterling
Monday morning at 8 am is doubtful due to possible after-effects of Hurricane Irene (no damage at my house, and I hope the airport and Ed’s planes are OK). But I have a Wednesday morning flight booked, and weather is supposed to be good all week.

0.8 hours dual Citabria (3B3, 8/23/11)
1.2 hours dual Citabria (3B3, 8/26/11)

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cadetpilot said...

Most runways are not flat, but have a minor up- or downslope. An upslope is beneficial for landings as it reduces landing distance, while a downslope is beneficial for takeoffs as it reduces takeoff distance. So any benefit gained is canceled by the cost incurred.Ultimately the most important thing is to orient the runway into the wind,as a headwind is beneficial for both takeoffs and landings, and to a greater degree than a slope.