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4-place Landing Techniques

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  • #61
    Thanks to everyone for their input on this thread. I enjoy the sharing of experiences and it has helped me a lot.

    Today marks 16 months since my first flight in my Bearhawk 4A with 320 plus hours and over 500 landings. I'm not saying that to brag, just the opposite, that is what it takes for me to come close to reaching an "average" proficiency level. Jon (Battson) has said over and over, practice is the key. In that time, there has been a learning curve for me that continues each and every flight. That is what makes it fun for me!

    I'll just try to throw out some thoughts here that I have learned rather slowly over the last 16 months.

    My Bearhawk landing strategy stages goes as follows so far:
    1. GA primary training stage - Just carry extra speed, aim for the big old runway, don't bend anything! Phase 1 initial hours.
    2. I wanna be a STOL Competitor - I tried to work my approach speeds down and tried to get my landing distances down to competition level. I fly with Carbon Cub drivers and they could do it. I could get slow and short at impractically low payload weights. I couldn't do ten 1.1 VSo approaches without at least two of those being way two firm, or long due to timing and magnitude of power burst to save a landing.
    3. Wing VG's installed phase - this was a huge step forward to landing shorter. It made the approaches much more stable and helped do it slower. Thought I was on my way to competition. I really started preparing for trips to Canyonlands, UT about this time. That meant I had to start practicing at what I call "day trip" weight. That is full fuel, all backcountry tools and survival gear, chairs, table, extra stuff to account for ice chest and "cold" drinks. The full fuel is to account for my flight deck commanders weight. The difference between 2 hours of XC fuel burn and the weight she last told me when I married her some 43 years ago!!! Whee has kinda mentioned this, at those practice weights and slow approach speeds close to 1.1 VSo, it took way to much nose high flare and power burst to arrest the downward inertia (weight). It could be short but teeth would click, eyebrows would raise sharply and the flight deck commander would use bad words.
    4. Made several actual backcountry trips - this is the fun phase. Made several trips, had a blast and realized I didn't have be able to do STOL competition level landings to be safe. The other thing I learned was there was always wind which never blew on the nose. That means landing in a cross wind or a quartering tailwind on a narrow two track wide strip. For control and visibility I had to land a little faster anyway most of the time. Even at those slightly higher approach speeds I hardly use 25% of the runway if I consistently hit my aim point. I found that if I landed at STOL competition speeds and got a little bounce in a crosswind, I was at the edge of a runway (12 foot wide) at the mercy of the breeze.
    5. Current landing strategy - Canyon speed on downwind - 65 KIAS, flaps 2. This is practice for canyon maneuvering configuration. Abeam the numbers - reduce throttle (full prop, about 1300 rpm), trim for 50 KIAS, flaps 3. I did try to do full flaps right off the bat but found speed control within 2 knots was too difficult and draggy in the turns. As turn into final, pull latch knots of flaps, and start concentrating on the aim point. Usually a high start and idle throttle now. Power if the aim point starts to rise. Slow a bit (nose up) if the aim point goes down. With the VG's this is safer than it sounds in my Bearhawk. I can slow up and descend pretty steeply as the speed goes down into the low to mid 40's KIAS. Actually, I've gotten to where I don't really pay attention to the airspeed once I finish my base to final turn. As aim point passes under the nose, start the round out with a little power going in. Lately, this is really nice chirp, chirps and a rollout of about 450 feet. Oh, for visibility reasons, which I need on two track wide runways with prairie dog holes, I land tail low, wheel landings with braking to almost walking speed before the tailwheel goes down. This is good for the passengers and my airframe. I know the guy that welded the fuselage/landing gear and he is an amateur for sure!!!!

    Sorry this so long but just one more point. Nev's data driven approach is the only way I can really know how I'm doing. I use EFIS data and cameras to really judge how I'm doing and improving. There are mainy times that I landed 10 feet short (fireball) and never knew it. Video don't lie.

    My new challenge - in all this time, I neglected doing any engine out practice. Recent attempts at this have revealed that I suck at it. It is a whole different game to clean up the flaps and lower the nose with no option for use of power. A lot of times I would either eat trees on approach or run off the butte on the far end of the back country runway. Try it. I'm learning a lot about landing the BH in engine out simulation. got a long way to go.

    Fly safe! Practice hard, fly easy!
    Thanks too much,
    John Bickham

    Los Lunas, NM Mid Valley Airpark E98
    BH Plans #1117
    Avipro wings/Scratch
    http://www.mykitlog.com/users/index....er&project=882

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    • Nev
      Nev commented
      Editing a comment
      John, this is extremely helpful, thanks.

    • Bcone1381
      Bcone1381 commented
      Editing a comment
      Once upon a time engine out spot landing completion was a thing. An exact and deliberate amount of energy (altitude and power) is set on downwind. Then abeam the numbers power is brought to idle. The the key decision is the altitude of your base turn due to variable of wind....a strong headwind will need a sooner, higher turn. AN 800' base turn on a calm wind day in a C-150 with a 1000' pattern worked well. Then its airspeed and flap adjustment to touchdown on your spot. Success is to land within 100' of the touchdown point on speed. With practice you can do +/-25. The next evoltion is to bring the power to idle at 3000' and maneuver so you position your self abeam the numbers at 1000'. That is a very easy transition to make.

  • #62
    ...for visibility reasons, which I need on two track wide runways with prairie dog holes, I land tail low, wheel landings with braking to almost walking speed....
    John, can you tell me what speed and flap setting you would use on final approach for this ?
    For a wheel landing, I'm finding so far that with F3 or F4 I'm resorting to a 3-pointer, then pushing it up onto the mains. It probably means that I'm too slow. Tomorrow I'll try F2 with say 60kts and see what difference it makes. I'm thinking it might help me to keep the tail up. I'd like to find a couple of techniques that are more airframe friendly (and flight commander friendly
    Nev Bailey
    Christchurch, NZ
    Builders-log
    YouTube

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    • #63
      Nev,

      I'm very reluctant to give advice on this Nev because I'm not an expert. Please proceed with caution and dont bend your airplane. Your way ahead of me as far as the time and experience based on your short time flying your Bearhawk.

      So, I like my approaches a little steeper than most. I practice that way for obstacle clearance on the approach end. My numbers almost exactly match your numbers. I used to fly a "the number" but don't anymore. When I do peek at it it is to make sure I'm not too fast. It usually is 46 - 48 KIAS. It took me a long time to understand the key was quicker and smaller magnitude throttle adjustments. Many small throttle changes verses two or three big adjustments. Have you noticed how a throttle increase will raise the nose if your not pushing on the stick? I'll do my best to try to use the King's English to convey my method. May get long.

      Base 50 KIAS, flaps 3, full prop, 1200-1300 rpm. Turn to final, normally a high start, pull last notch of flaps. If low, stay at 3 notches of flaps. Now I start flying a very specific aim point and attitude, not so much the number. I move my head as high as I can and I put the aim point just over the front edge of cowl. Moving my head high is also setting up for the most over the nose visibility possible on flare. This sets an attitude which in turn sets a speed. Now it is keeping that aim point right there. Usually the throttle is really close to idle by now. If the aim point moves up, small throttle increase. If the aim point starts to disappear below the cowl edge, less throttle and if at idle I'll raise the nose a bit to increase sink and bring it back. The key for me is a precise aim reference where u make quick, small adjustments.

      Due to the weight, inertia and drag fixing to come in on the round out, I start to increase the throttle slowly as aim point goes under the nose. My theory is this gives the elevator more authority at full flaps. I increase it just enough to keep visibility of the runway over the nose. I dont flare and loose sight of the runway in front of me anymore. This also sets the attitude and the position height of the tailwheel. I will have a tailwheel touch and on to the mains about half the time. A touch is OK with me. See the video of the Hidden Splendor landing. A tailwheel spike is not good for me. That means I had to raise the nose too much and not enough throttle. Also notice the width of the Hidden Splendor runway and the terrain on runway edges. That is why over the nose visibility is vital to me.

      This doesn't give me STOL competition landing distances. It does give me a more airframe friendly touch and a little extra elevator/rudder authority for a little crosswind too. I've baby stepped into more and more aggressive tailwheel up braking on the rollout to shorten the landing distances. Brake pads are cheap and got changed at annual condition inspection.

      If your target on the barn is the keyhole, you will hit the door. If your target picture is the barn, you MIGHT hit the somewhere on the wall. I have arrived at hitting the aim point every time is the most critical factor to backcountry flying success.
      Last edited by John Bickham; 01-22-2022, 08:42 AM.
      Thanks too much,
      John Bickham

      Los Lunas, NM Mid Valley Airpark E98
      BH Plans #1117
      Avipro wings/Scratch
      http://www.mykitlog.com/users/index....er&project=882

      Comment


      • Nev
        Nev commented
        Editing a comment
        All very helpful thanks John.

    • #64
      This conversation is awesome, guys. I really appreciate the candor and detail. I'm still a couple of years from finishing my 4pl A model, but I do have a Maule M5-235C that I am going to practice all of these techniques on. I can easily get into and out of < 800' of grass on my home strip (I have 1400'), but even after 120+ hours of flying this airplane, my approaches and landings are not nearly as consistent as I would like.

      Besides, if I can get this figured out on the Maule, it *should* be a lot easier to figure on the Bearhawk when I'm done..... (famous last words...)
      -------------------
      Mark

      Maule M5-235C C-GJFK
      Bearhawk 4A #1078 (Scratch building - C-GPFG reserved)
      RV-8 C-GURV (Sold)

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      • robcaldwell
        robcaldwell commented
        Editing a comment
        My friend owns and flies a Maule. He recently flew my Model B and reported that it is "soooo much easier to land" than his Maule.

      • rv8bldr
        rv8bldr commented
        Editing a comment
        I'm not surprised, Rob. After 600+ hours of flying my RV-8 I figured I knew how to fly a tailwheel airplane. Then I bought the Maule. Holy crap I had a hard time with it for a while, so much so I thought about selling it. In the end I figured if I conquered it and got comfortable the Bearhawk transition would be that much easier. I'm glad I kept it as I am very comfortable landing it now although, as I said above, I still have work to do

    • #65
      Originally posted by john bickham View Post
      i have arrived at hitting the aim point every time is the most critical factor to backcountry flying success.
      this ^^^^^^
      N678C reserved
      Revo Sunglasses Ambassador
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      • #66
        <<"Grumpy-old-man" mode = ON>>
        Flair is a noun that means doing something with skill or style... ("She has a flair for languages.")
        Flare is both a noun and a verb. In aviation use (the landing flare), it is an action verb. The landing flare, also referred to as the round out, is a maneuver or stage during the landing of an aircraft.

        And while one can flare one's airplane with flair, one does not "flair" the airplane to land.
        <<"Grumpy-old-man" mode = OFF>>

        There, I feel much better... (And, YES, I'm just teasing – mostly.)
        Last edited by JimParker256; 01-23-2022, 12:59 PM.
        Jim Parker
        Farmersville, TX (NE of Dallas)
        RANS S-6ES (E-LSA) with Rotax 912ULS (100 HP)

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        • #67
          Flair is a noun that means doing something with skill or style...
          Seems they were using the term correctly then Jim
          Nev Bailey
          Christchurch, NZ
          Builders-log
          YouTube

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          • JimParker256
            JimParker256 commented
            Editing a comment
            You got me there, Nev! You have a real flair for for that! LOL

        • #68
          Originally posted by Nev View Post
          It probably means that I'm too slow.
          No such thing as landing too slow, in my opinion
          STOL or die

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          • #69
            Today I did a lot of low level circuits to practice wheeling it on. With mixed results. This is with just myself and 130L fuel, close to the FWD CG limit. My plan was to add a few knots onto my approach speed, however I found it quite difficult to wheel on, compared to the Piper Cub that I'd been flying recently. Whereas the 3-pointers were consistent, the wheelers weren't. The most success I had was touching down either in (or close to - I'm not certain) the 3-point attitude, then rolling forward onto the mains. I'm going to get someone to video a few so I can exactly what I'm doing.

            In the end I lost interest and headed off into the mountains for some aviation therapy.
            Nev Bailey
            Christchurch, NZ
            Builders-log
            YouTube

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            • rv8bldr
              rv8bldr commented
              Editing a comment
              Hey Nev

              I found I couldn't 3 point my RV-8 consistently so I spent 600+ hours doing wheelie landings. I found that the best technique (at least for that aircraft) was to land just a little tail low and then push the stick ahead on touch down. Landing in a level attitude (or near 3 point) just ended up causing a big bounce (or even more than one....) I don't know if this technique will work on the Bearhawk but it might be something to try if you haven't already

            • Battson
              Battson commented
              Editing a comment
              You are on the right track - tail low wheeler is superior to going straight for the mains. Piper, Cessna, and Bearhawk / Maule all have different undercarriage types and geometry, not easily compared.

          • #70
            I’m jealous Nev

            I need aviation therapy

            Damn work is cutting into my build time
            N678C reserved
            Revo Sunglasses Ambassador
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            • Gerhard Rieger
              Gerhard Rieger commented
              Editing a comment
              I have the same problem

          • #71
            Originally posted by Nev View Post
            .... The most success I had was touching down either in (or close to - I'm not certain) the 3-point attitude, then rolling forward onto the mains. I'm going to get someone to video a few so I can exactly what I'm doing....
            Thanks for confirming. This is exactly what I have found to be the best landing attitude and execution for me.
            Rob Caldwell
            Lake Norman Airpark (14A), North Carolina
            EAA Chapter 309
            Model B Quick Build Kit Serial # 11B-24B / 25B
            YouTube Channel: http://bearhawklife.video
            1st Flight May 18, 2021

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            • #72
              Thought I'd update my progress here. I've found reports from others above extremely helpful.

              I've just completed 100 hours on my Bearhawk and have been doing numerous low level circuits at the local airfield. In light winds if there's no other traffic I'll often fly a figure-of-eight pattern for crosswind practice, or a dumbbell reversal for maximum exposure. This gives me about one landing every 2 minutes. I always use an aim point, usually a crossing grass runway or a displaced threshold. I also did many landings with the left wheel running along the grass edge to simulate a narrow runway. This helped alot when I ventured into some of the narrow backcountry airstrips. Having other Bearhawk pilots fly with me on occasion was a huge help.

              A local gentleman is going to mow me a 100m strip in the Lucerne beside one of the grass runways at my local airport, slightly wider then my wheel track spacing. I'm pretty happy about that!

              Initially I found the STOL approaches challenging, in a fun enjoyable way. Normal approaches are no problem because you just carry more speed and land like any other aircraft.

              Around the 30-50 hour mark I started to relax a bit and the muscle memory was helping out. At that point I was easily hitting my aim point every time, but usually in a 3-point attitude. That was fine, but on some of the rougher airstrips I wanted to keep the tail wheel off as long as possible. I also copped some minor rock damage once I got into the mountains in my first few rocky airstrip landings.

              Around the 60 hour mark I started trying to do more consistent wheel landings, but still mixed results. These gradually improved over time. I'm now landing on the mains very consistently, and with a very short landing roll - similar to a 3-point landing roll. My approach speed is still typically 50 KIAS (F4) which gives me 48 KTAS. This works well for a typical backcountry load of 2 people and some gear.

              With 4 POB and CG further aft I'm preferring to carry an approach speed of 55-60 KIAS, F3, and it wheels on quite nicely with a longer (but still very respectable) landing roll. This is suitable for the local airfields rather than backcountry airstrips.

              Last week I did a couple of quick circuits after completing the 100 hour check. I use AOA audio on finals, but a quick glance at the IAS showed 47 KIAS on finals which gives me 45 KTAS (I know, most aircraft have IAS lower than TAS at high AOA!). This felt quite safe, although with one POB and half fuel it was probably a similar AOA to having 2 POB and 50 KIAS.

              I've now flown now on some rougher gustier days, and slowly expanding my comfort zone. Above all, still having a ton of fun getting out the other Bearhawk's and exploring the countryside.

              Nev Bailey
              Christchurch, NZ
              Builders-log
              YouTube

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              • #73
                Had some fun today - a friend mowed a short "airstrip" at the local airfield for me to practice on. It's about 100m x 4m.

                Nev Bailey
                Christchurch, NZ
                Builders-log
                YouTube

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                • rv8bldr
                  rv8bldr commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Nice! That strip looks MINISCULE from the air :-)

                • robcaldwell
                  robcaldwell commented
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                  I had to do the conversion... 100 meters = 328 feet. NICE!

              • #74
                Nev Great stuff
                N678C reserved
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                • #75
                  Watch out Jonathan!

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                  • Nev
                    Nev commented
                    Editing a comment
                    He hasn't got too much to worry about - I'm still landing 30% longer !! Good fun practicing though.

                  • svyolo
                    svyolo commented
                    Editing a comment
                    But you have spent the time to calculate the 30% difference, which makes me think you are working on it. Clash of the Kiwi Bearhawkers !
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