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Discussion in 'Pilot Training' started by Gatorj31, Apr 5, 2021.
I wish people would stop saying this.
that’s funny, I wish people would go around more rather than trying to save bad approaches.
In the flight school we had several accidents early on, and almost all of them were caused by a reluctance to go around. The training syllabus got a whole lot of changes to stop this sort of thing.
-Too high on final so the student dives at the runway, gaining speed, and forces it on. It wheelbarrows and goes off the runway and noses over. Twice in the same airplane, different students. Expensive. Engine and both wings trashed. Must have been the most-rebuilt 150 around.
-Same thing on a grass runway with a bit of wet snow on it. No traction for braking, so it ends up off the end and on its nose. Should have known that bad things were gonna happen when touching far down the length of a slippery short grass strip. Lots of damage.
-Student in a rather mild crosswind, first solo in a taildragger, the wind lifts the upwind wing and the downwind wing drags and it turns out of the wind and heads into the rhubarb and stops on its nose. Another propstrike and wing damage.
-Propstrike when a wheel landing in a taildragger bounced and the pilot tried to settle it down. It just started porpoising, hitting harder each time. An experienced pilot could save it, not so much a green taildragger student. Engine teardown and prop replacement.
All of these could have been avoided just by opening the throttle and getting out of there.
There are good reasons why the experienced guys say "you can always go around." They could add, "...and don't make the same dumb mistake on the next try."
I've done a number of go arounds when it didn't look as it should on final. But as I stated earlier there are times when you cannot go around. I've had a few 2-strokes that made me land without the go around option. Some short fields don't allow the option if they are the "one way in/out" type of field. In those cases it's best to be on speed and glide and know ahead of time what your plan is ...
But I agree that the smart thing to do when you first become uncomfortable with an approach is to get out of dodge and make a better plan for the next attempt ... even if that means flying around and talking to yourself long enough to calm down and get a coherent plan together.
You did a lot of work just to find that 1.3 times a number that's 10% higher than another number ends up being 10% higher.
I didn't say anything about margin above stall speed and whether I wanted more or less so you're arguing with a straw man.
If your stall speed is higher your touchdown speed is higher. If your touchdown speed is higher, control effectiveness at touchdown is increased.
When you're high on final, going around might be a safe option, but it's not going to teach you anything. Some approaches are not salvageable, but being a bit fast, slow, long, whatever, if you can fix it and land, you might learn something. And that something might save your life someday. How much go-around practice do you need?
If you have to keep going around there's a deeper problem, either with training or with developed habits. It needs fixing before it wrecks an airplane and hurts someone.
"How much go-around practice do you need?" How many airplanes can you afford to wreck? Too many pilots never go around. They just keep up their bad habits until something bad happens.
I pointed out earlier that it's not the touchdown control that usually causes problems in a crosswind. It's the increasing relative crosswind vector as you slow down in the landing roll that gets you, that transition period between touchdown and stopping. The flight controls are losing their effectiveness but the forward speed means there is still lift in the wings, little grip on the runway, and you need to be aware of that.
There's a common misconception out there that once the wheels are on the ground, the wing isn't lifting anymore. That's false. These airplanes are not stalled when they land; the AoA in the landing attitude isn't high enough. (They're designed that way; nobody wants a stall right near touchdown, with the attendant nose drop and possible wing drop.) So that lift is still there, enough to let you skid the tires real easy and enough to let the crosswind lift a wing and bust the airplane.
Would be kind of hard to take off, too, if there was no lift when wheels are on the ground. I had to get my head around the idea that as long as there is air over the wings, there is lift. Sometimes it's zero, but sometimes there's enough that there are only a few PSI between my seat and the rwy.
You can do 300 landings that are routine, then get a surprise. I was taking a friend for a lunch flight the other day and returning to my home airport, I checked the AWOS and it was nothing special... maybe 12 kts and blowing straight down the runway. But it was the most attention-getting, turbulent approach I've had in five years that I've been at Cable. In addition to the wing rocking, there was orographic lift to the point where power was at idle and I just wasn't getting the sink rate, despite being right on my usual IAS numbers. Fortunately, there was plenty of runway, but had it been a 2000' strip, I'd need to go around for sure.
Landings can be ordinary, until they're not!!
The cure for this is to go out to the airport on a windy day and find a comfortable spot where you can watch the airplanes landing. When you see how squirrely and all over the place other people can get you won't feel so bad.
It's the nature of controlling a contraption borne by the wind and trying to attach it to the ground again.
To add to Silvaire's wisdom. Your landings always feel worse from inside than they look from outside. At least, that's what I've always told myself.
You don't give up using the rudder pedals until the plane stops. What the rudder pedals do after landing depends on what model plane you are flying. In my plane, which has a castering nosewheel, rudder pedals remain effective for steering until there is insufficient speed for the rudder to be effective. Then it's differential braking. In a plane with a steerable nosewheel (typically controlled by the rudder pedals) you can steer with the pedals once the nosewheel is firmly on the runway. Before that, the rudder can still steer the airplane as long as there is sufficient airflow over the control surface. Of course, before touching down, you use the rudder control to point the nose in the correct direction. You can control side drift with bank (ailerons). It's actually easier to do than explain. So you still work the rudder pedals to point the airplane where it is supposed to be pointed throughout the landing. On a steerable nosewheel airplane, there is an abrupt transition when the nosewheel is planted from aerodynamic steering to wheel steering. If you have the nose pointed down the runway, this transition is pretty smooth. If you are crabbed, the transition is decidedly jerky when the nosewheel plants. (That's why you should try to land in a wing-down, nose-down-the-runway attitude.) In a free-castering airplane, the transition between aerodynamic and ground steering is more gentle (the nosewheel isn't going to pull you anywhere if you are off line), but you have no steering without braking once reaching a low enough speed.
Back in the day, my old CFI took me to the longest runway around and made me make an approach with no flaps, then one notch, then another notch, then full. But each time we got into ground effect, he wanted me to just fly it a knot or two above stall all the way down the runway while maintaining the centerline at about 5 feet agl.
This did a few things for me. It forced me to get used to the sight picture in a landing attitude. It forced me to have centerline discipline. It forced me to become comfortable with slow flight in close proximity to the ground. But above all, it forced me to develop this mentality: you fly the airplane; the airplane doesn't fly you.
I highly recommend this technique. Have a try with your CFI. It's a great amalgamation of skills used in a critical phase of flight.
Try not to overthink it. The point you would let off the rudder would be when the plane begins to dart in the direction you're pushing it. Using rudder to align the nose doesn't mean to apply it in any specific direction at any specific point in time, just what is required to keep the nose pointed where you want to go.
My worst landings happen on the rather calm "variable winds" kind of days.