Downwind landing in a J3 Cub.

Discussion in 'Lessons Learned' started by Shepherd, Aug 10, 2018.

  1. Shepherd

    Shepherd En-Route

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2012
    Messages:
    3,318
    Location:
    Hopewell Jct, NY
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Shepherd
    UPDATE: Downwind video added.
    So they put the left wing back on the Cub.
    It had "fallen off" a couple weeks ago.
    No biggie. I told them I would test it.
    So off I flew to breakfast this morning, no sense dying on an empty stomach.
    While flying over, I though to myself:
    Voice in head: "Self, you have never attempted a downwind landing in this plane."
    Talking to voice in head: "Self, you are absolutely right. Today looks like a good day to see what happens."
    So, when I got to 44N (remember, this was a breakfast flight), I announced a downwind landing. It was only blowing 3 maybe 4 mph, straight down the runway.
    What the hell was I thinking!!!???!!!
    Cubs have crap brakes. This Cub has totally crap brakes.
    It took almost the entire length of the runway to get the plane stopped. Seriously.
    I was starting to get a little concerned towards the end.
    I couldn't even eat my usual omelette and pound of bacon, I was so upset. Nothing but tea and a muffin.
    When I came out I wish I had eaten a pound of bacon.
    It took me 45 minutes to start the Cub. It had flooded, sitting in the hot sun.
    Lessons learned:
    1. Practice everything. You never know when you might need it for real.
    2. Never pass on a pound of bacon. You never know when you might need the extra energy.
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2018
  2. 455 Bravo Uniform

    455 Bravo Uniform Pattern Altitude

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2015
    Messages:
    1,932
    Location:
    KLAF
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    455 Bravo Uniform
    3. Click on Shep’s posts, they’re apt to be entertaining, and make me feel like a substandard pilot that has more work to do...
     
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2018
    TCABM likes this.
  3. N659HB

    N659HB Pattern Altitude

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2013
    Messages:
    2,252
    Location:
    The True Southeast
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Doc
    Don't like them in the Luscombe, either (tailwind landings, that is). Brakes aren't much better and she loves to float with even a puff of air. Glad you survived!
     
    Shepherd likes this.
  4. Kenny Phillips

    Kenny Phillips Line Up and Wait

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2018
    Messages:
    608
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Kenny Phillips
    I have one downwind (quartering tailwind!) landing to my credit. The trophy is a bent propeller that adorns my music room. I got no bacon.
     
    RyanShort1 likes this.
  5. mscard88

    mscard88 Touchdown! Greaser!

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2015
    Messages:
    22,877
    Location:
    Alabama
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Mark
    Should've just stuck your foot out Shep and dragged it to a stop Flintstones style!

    image.jpeg

    But to the more concerning and serious matter, how could you pass up the omelette and pound of bacon? I mean BACON! C'mon man. ;)
     
    murphey and Shepherd like this.
  6. Ted DuPuis

    Ted DuPuis Administrator Management Council Member

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2007
    Messages:
    23,210
    Location:
    Paola, KS
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    iBanYou
    You know, this is useful for me to read.

    I've flown planes for which a downwind landing is really a non-event. In fact, I'll opine that there are times when they are safer than the other options (such as a circling approach at minimums).

    However, I have essentially 0 time in a Cub or other low-performance aircraft of that sort, and it makes sense that for those, the downwind landing would be much different.

    Yes, good to practice such things under controlled conditions so you know what it will do when you need them. In the MU-2 I practice emergency descents almost every flight. Of course, that's also the most efficient way to descend.
     
    Shepherd likes this.
  7. N659HB

    N659HB Pattern Altitude

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2013
    Messages:
    2,252
    Location:
    The True Southeast
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Doc
    It's those days with variable winds that really suck. There's usually a crosswind at the home 'drome, and sometimes it changes from a quartering headwind to a quartering tailwind from base to final! Fun stuff!
     
    Shepherd likes this.
  8. N3368K

    N3368K Line Up and Wait

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2008
    Messages:
    990
    Location:
    Collierville, TN
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    JimR
    At our airport, we will all typically land to the north and take off to the south due to trees on the north end, unless winds are over 5+ mph. Even working to get IAS airspeed as low as comfortable, the actual groundspeed can really eat up the runway faster than you expect so practice occasionally is a good idea. I routinely do them in both my Cub and RV-4, again, due to field layout.

    As for Cub brakes, they require frequent addition of 5606 fluid and about once every three months they need bled from bottom up. If you can't get good braking after bleeding, the shoes are probably worn beyond limits and no amount of bleeding or pumping will help. It will, however, cause a good expander tube to leak. The problem with worn shoes are they are stupidly expensive, just like the 8.00x4 tires/tubes, so they rarely get replaced. Watch eBay and buy some that someone is replacing with Grove brakes. They need to be 0.300 thick. Much less than about 0.280 and they are shot. When mine finally gave up, I replaced my shoes (while I was replacing a leaking expander tube). Once bled, I had excellent brakes for about 90 days, 12 weeks or three months, whichever comes first... I can bleed my brakes, without assistance, in about 15 minutes. If one feels soft, I will bleed it before flying. It is nice to have good brakes in a Cub...because growing up, it wasn't uncommon for one or both brakes to be inoperative...but we still flew it. Of course, being on a grass field made that infinitely easier to get away with.
     
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2018
    Shepherd and RyanShort1 like this.
  9. Shepherd

    Shepherd En-Route

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2012
    Messages:
    3,318
    Location:
    Hopewell Jct, NY
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Shepherd
    Some observations on my downwind experience\video.
    I was NOT expecting to float as far as I did.
    I finally "forced" it down. I could have waited a little longer, but, eh.
    The plane didn't touch down until AFTER the crown in the runway. It's all down hill racer from there.
    If I wasn't holding the nose on the runway, I think it would have lifted off again.
    I had less than 100(?) ft of runway left when I finally turned off.
    I totally misjudged how far the plane was going to run out. Having "meh" brakes did not help the situation.
    The entire experience was maybe 25% experience\skill and 75% pure, unadulterated luck.
    I need to practice this again. If I ever have to do this for real, I want it to be at least 50/50.
    If I was downwind on 17, instead of 35, it would have been a snooze fest. All up hill. That is also a valuable lesson.
    And of course, the bacon.
     
  10. bobmrg

    bobmrg En-Route

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2007
    Messages:
    2,761
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Bob Gardner
    Curmudgeon here: Why practice downwind landings? Especially in a taildragger? I have landed downwind at airports where the runway sloped upward, which kind of negates the negatives, to coin a phrase, but a flat runway? Why?

    Acid test: Explain to your insurance agent why you were landing downwind and bent your airplane.

    Bob
     
    Morgan3820 likes this.
  11. Shepherd

    Shepherd En-Route

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2012
    Messages:
    3,318
    Location:
    Hopewell Jct, NY
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Shepherd
    Because sometimes the engine stops turning and the only direction you can land is downwind.
    There are not a lot of options here in the Northeast. Not a lot of flat spots, and most (farm) fields have very tall trees, sometimes all the way around the perimeters.
    Wouldn't you rather know, in advance, whether an option is viable? I sure do.
    That's why you practice. So you are good enough not to bend the airplane.
     
    murphey, N3368K, N659HB and 2 others like this.
  12. Ryanb

    Ryanb Final Approach PoA Supporter

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2010
    Messages:
    7,621
    Location:
    Tennessee
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Ryan
    Funny... back in April I made an unintentional downwind landing at night. Winds were doing some funny things. Relatively steady at one minute and then some gusts the next. When I turned final everything was normal, but as I got over the threshold and pulled the power back I could feel the winds carrying me down the runway and I wasn’t settling. Ended up floating about half way down the runway atleast before I touched down. It was one of those situations that I look back on and ask myself ‘why didn’t I just go around?’ At the time I knew that I had plenty of runway remaining so I just rode it out, but a go around would’ve been the better call that I’ll exercise if and when that happens again.
     
  13. asicer

    asicer En-Route

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2015
    Messages:
    2,759
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    asicer
    What did you use as an aiming point? Was it shorter than if it wasn't a downwind landing?

    BTW, I made an unintentional downwind landing once. I was wandering around the area trying to add airports to my logbook and had just landed a few miles to the west where the winds were out of the west. This airport had no AWOS so I checked a station a few miles to the east and they said the winds were out of the west. Silly me didn't look for the windsock when I overflew and assumed that since this airport was sandwiched between two others that were reporting winds out of the west that I should land to the west. I assumed wrong.

    Like you, it was a very unpleasant experience for me. Luckily, it wasn't unpleasant for the airplane aside from the first few millimeters of the brake pads.
     
  14. tawood

    tawood Pattern Altitude

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2015
    Messages:
    1,848
    Location:
    SE Michigan
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Tim
    I like how you start smiling as your situation becomes more dire...I tend to do this too, and I'm not really sure why. Its like I laugh at myself, "You idiot! You got no one to blame but yourself! Ha!"
     
  15. bobmrg

    bobmrg En-Route

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2007
    Messages:
    2,761
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Bob Gardner
    In an emergency there are no rules. Get it on the ground with minimal harm to humans, sacrificing the airplane as necessary. Much easier to explain to the insurance adjuster than a crump occurring during practice.

    Bob
     
  16. Hank S

    Hank S En-Route

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2013
    Messages:
    4,126
    Location:
    Eclectic, AL
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Hank
    I've landed downwind in my Mooney three times:
    • Looked for windsock, never saw the faded tetrahedron. It was my first and last time taki g advice from someone on the ground . . .
    • Tower cleared me to land on one runway, halfway down final offered another for better wind alignment. They were wrong . . . The next plane landed the other way, nicely.
    • Just a couple weeks ago, at my 3150' home field. The wind was pretty calm, but my wife asked why the landing was so bad.
    She just floats and floats, and if it's a quartering tailwind, she drifts and weathervanes. It's an uncomfortable feeling, and my wife proved that it's not just mental with me.

    Go out and practice it on purpose? No thank you . . . .
     
  17. ebetancourt

    ebetancourt Pre-takeoff checklist

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2010
    Messages:
    422
    Location:
    Middle Tennessee
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Ernie
    One of many problems with a downwind landing is that the rudder is less effective after touchdown. In some airplanes (e.g., the Waco Taperwing) the hardest part of the landing is the rollout. Many have been modified with a HS 2B20-9 CS prop (99") at idle in three point it is is effectively blanking the rudder. The landing, up until the initial slowdown after touchdown is relatively easy. After that it is a real dance, especially on pavement.
    As Bob says, in an emergency I'll do what ever it takes to save the carbon units, the airplane is not a consideration. A low approach would tell me all I need to know for handling an emergency. I won't intentionally land downwind.
     
  18. wilkersk

    wilkersk Cleared for Takeoff

    Joined:
    May 21, 2015
    Messages:
    1,138
    Location:
    Puget Sound
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    KennyW
    I've attempted a downwind landing or 2 in the Sonerai, thanks to not wanting to hassle with all the studs in 172s that are busy plonking down again and again with a 4 knot tail wind on a 5,000 foot runway. With a landing weight (including the self-loading cargo and legal fuel reserves) of about 750 lbs, a 4 kt tailwind is not insubstantial.

    The biggest problem is that with very stubby wings and spring gear, it doesn't crow-hop in the usual way. Its more like a bounce-leap-stall-bounce scenario that can get away from you in a hurry.

    I've poured on the coal and clawed my way skyward more than once. And, then felt a little silly as I watch another 2,000' of runway wind past. It can be done. But, it takes endless patience with a "tailwheel low" wheel landing and quite a bit of runway to make that airplane stick to the ground with any tailwind at all.
     
  19. N3368K

    N3368K Line Up and Wait

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2008
    Messages:
    990
    Location:
    Collierville, TN
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    JimR
    You've never seen a runway which is one way in/one way out? I'm also assuming that if I'm not doing anything illegal or in violation of FARs, the insurance folks won't have much choice but to pay it out. Even if I am in violation, it would have to have a direct correlation to the accident as a causal factor to even be considered in many states.
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2018
  20. Groundpounder

    Groundpounder Pre-takeoff checklist

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2013
    Messages:
    421
    Location:
    New Hampshire
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Groundpounder
    If you go to TEB often enough, you'll get to deal with tailwind landings. Funny how it comes to exactly 10 knots (the limit on most transport category aircraft) when you do the math.
     
  21. steingar

    steingar Taxi to Parking

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2007
    Messages:
    25,304
    Location:
    Land of Savages
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    steingar
    I've done more tailwind landings than I can easily count. If it works better, if I'm in a hurry (did a couple to get out of storms), stuff like that. Of course, these were on big long runways where I had plenty of room to land. If I've only got a hundred feet after rollout I'm doing something wrong. Don't feel like creating an emergency when there's no need for one.
     
  22. iamtheari

    iamtheari Cleared for Takeoff

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2016
    Messages:
    1,311
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Ari
    Everyone should fly a Cub. They teach you to be a better pilot. Between the gigantic wing, untrustworthy brakes, and lack of a sight picture over the nose in any pitch angle greater than level, you can learn a lot of stick-and rudder skills in a relatively forgiving environment.
     
    Shepherd and N3368K like this.
  23. N3368K

    N3368K Line Up and Wait

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2008
    Messages:
    990
    Location:
    Collierville, TN
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    JimR
    For those who have never done it, no explanation is possible. To those who have, none is necessary. :D

    I learned in a Cub...October 8 will be 40th anniversary of my first solo.
     
    Shepherd likes this.
  24. steingar

    steingar Taxi to Parking

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2007
    Messages:
    25,304
    Location:
    Land of Savages
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    steingar
    Everyone should fly a Mooney. They're fast, thus you HAVE to learn to stay ahead of the aircraft and maintain situational awareness and control. They're complex, so you have to learn how and when to control complex aircraft systems. If you land too fast they float, if you land too slow they fall right out of the sky, you thus have to learn precise control of your airspeed. Best of all once you've mastered all of this you know how to fly a real airplane, instead of some wood and rag piece of flotsam from yesteryear.
     
  25. N3368K

    N3368K Line Up and Wait

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2008
    Messages:
    990
    Location:
    Collierville, TN
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    JimR
    And you have to learn not to tear up a Mooney just like you have to learn not to tear up a Cub by being complacent. Or weak.
     
  26. Shepherd

    Shepherd En-Route

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2012
    Messages:
    3,318
    Location:
    Hopewell Jct, NY
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Shepherd
    Another note: There are three J3s that I fly, and every one of them flies significantly different from the other.
    Different stall speeds, different climb rates and sink rates, different turn rates, different trim settings for any flight regime.
    I keep a notebook for each, listing the quirks, I check the pertinent notebook before each flight, and if something changes I make a note of it. Hopefully the attention to detail will help keep me alive.
    Hence the mania for practicing everything, in every aircraft I fly.
     
    murphey and BillTIZ like this.
  27. Old97

    Old97 Pre-takeoff checklist

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2014
    Messages:
    145
    Location:
    Bayou City
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Old97
    Why not both?
     
  28. BillTIZ

    BillTIZ Final Approach

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2008
    Messages:
    5,065
    Location:
    0L7, VGT
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    BTIZ
    The Pawnee hates downwind landings, or maybe it’s me.
    It just floats and then just quits flying, plop, you are down and scrambling to keep it straight.
    Pawnee hates dead calm air too. Lands best when you have at least a few knots crosswind to lean into.
    Feels the best control with a good 10knt breeze. 10knt cross is better.
     
  29. zaitcev

    zaitcev En-Route

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2010
    Messages:
    2,945
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Pete Zaitcev
    Also, Mooneys are not all that great if the purpose is to foster a real pilot. I suggest a Lancair. If you screw that one up, you're done.
     
  30. zaitcev

    zaitcev En-Route

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2010
    Messages:
    2,945
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Pete Zaitcev
    Sometimes you have to. Los Alamos (KLAM) is a classic example.

    Personally, I would rather land a Mooney with tailwind than a Cub. I landed Carlson with tailwind, but fortunately it can be transitioned to tailwheel control early. I totally suck at this thing that some people do, when they go on power and then just use rudder and elevator to deflect the prop blast. Back in the 1930s, in Russia, all the primary trainers didn't have any tailwheels at all, just a little metal thing called "a crutch". So every pilot was very adept at taxiing with the tail in the air. I just can't do that. Tried a few times, scared myself. I feel like a prop strike is right there waiting.