Starting to prefer low-wings...

Discussion in 'Lessons Learned' started by drummer4468, Feb 19, 2021.

  1. drummer4468

    drummer4468 Pre-Flight

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    Never really took part in that debate because I love all airplanes...just wanna grumble a bit. Was putting the club's 152 away after a rather cold and bumpy flight this morning, complete with a couple of minor mishaps.

    On takeoff, it started getting mighty nippy in the cockpit. I already knew this club plane(read: beaten mule) had no window seals to speak of, and with surface temps around 10F, I was considering just turning back and landing if the heater couldn't keep up. Looked around and saw that my door was wide open! Okay, no worries, got it trimmed for climb and once everything was stabilized, I closed it. Was still a bit chilly but I decided to continue the flight.

    Flew into a new airport in prep for an upcoming stage check. Nice little strip but tucked into some mountains with rising terrain on three sides. At first glance it almost looks one-way in, one-way out. But I know that it's not, so I visualized my escape plan and decided to challenge myself to land there. Approach was looking pretty good, until I caught a sudden NASTY crosswind that rolled me hard to the left about 2mile final. Probably could have recovered and landed but was already thrown off my game and destabilized, so I decided to get outta dodge before I pushed my luck/limits in mountain terrain. Used my escape plan through one of the valleys, had plenty of room but was still much closer to terrain than I'm used to. I'll do it again with a CFI shortly.

    Anywho, diverted to a different field i wanted to visit anyway, and eventually got the plane back home. Started doing all the post-flight stuff, and getting it pushed back and plugged in for the next member. Now, I'm pretty good at tucking my head down around the wing as my PPL training was all in a 172. However, I keep forgetting how much shorter a 152 is in comparison as I haven't flown this bird nearly as much. So as I turned around to finally grab my bag off the seat and leave, WHAM! Got a forehead full of the flap's trailing edge, full force. Man, I was seeing stars for a good minute, and the lump on my head is still throbbing its reminder to watch where the hell I'm going.

    Laughter and self-deprecation aside, It was a good flight.

    Lessons learned(or more-so reinforced):
    • Don't get frazzled by unexpected distractions in critical phases of flight. Fly the plane and sort the problem out when you have time. Wasn't my first popped-open door, won't be the last.
    • Never be afraid to abort/go around. Being stubborn is what gets pilots in trouble, and being uncomfortable/unstabilized is when pilots make mistakes.
    • Always have an escape plan. "If things get hairy in the next 5 seconds, where am I gonna go?"
    • Winter ops - watch for ice on the ground. Brakes won't help you without tire traction. Similarly, watch where you put your feet when climbing out of the plane.
    • Also, being cold can be a huge distraction, and affect your judgement. Don't be tough and embark on a flight if your heater/clothing can't keep up. Few things amplify get-there-itis like chattering teeth. You should also be dressed appropriately should you lose your heat anyway.

    Fly safe, y'all.
     
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  2. GRG55

    GRG55 Final Approach

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    Great tale. Well done on the decision making (except maybe that part about leaving your bag behind on the seat). Still a better day than being at the office or WFH. :D

    And besides, that little diamond pattern imbedded in your forehead marks you as a Cessna pilot. ;) I hear pool noodles are an effective countermeasure.
    On low wings it's the shins that take the beating. But at least we can cover up the scars with jeans or trousers. :rolleyes:
     
  3. OneCharlieTango

    OneCharlieTango Pre-takeoff checklist

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    On the 185, the trailing edges are higher, but not quite high enough! :confused:
     
  4. Jim K

    Jim K Cleared for Takeoff PoA Supporter

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    Just need bigger tires
     
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  5. AKBill

    AKBill En-Route

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    Good story. I forgot how low the wing is on a 152. A friend is doing an annual on a 152 for on of his customers. I was very cautious walking around the hangar in proximity to the 152
     
  6. WannFly

    WannFly Final Approach

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    good debrief.
    now come over to the "right wing" side of the house
     
  7. Tantalum

    Tantalum Final Approach

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    Welcome to the dark side.
     
  8. William Pete Hodges

    William Pete Hodges Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I've flown low wings along time now. My initial thinking comparing a Cherokee to a Cessna 172 is the low wing feels more sporty in the air, is a little less sluggish and more responsive, has better view of the runway in the turns, is easier to fuel and check the fuel tanks, harder to sump the tanks, harder to load and harder to walk around, harder to get into and out of. Low wings have a lower center of gravity and can be easier to handle in gusty crosswinds, but also have stronger ground effect and float easier at lower speeds. High wings are easier to work on, easier to load, get in and out of, better visibility to the ground straight and level. They really do behave differently but not so much that you can't get used to it.

    PS Cherokee heaters work really well and the cabins are not drafty.
     
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  9. Tantalum

    Tantalum Final Approach

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    ^a good redux and far less rage filled than my usual comparisons

    My biggest issue with high wings is the handling. They're just not fun to fly.
     
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  10. asicer

    asicer Final Approach

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  11. 455 Bravo Uniform

    455 Bravo Uniform En-Route

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    Wearing a baseball cap increases the likelihood of a head-strike, lol.

    Funny story: Some of you know my 182 has the Peterson STOL mods with the front canards (avatar pic). I usually turn my prop horizontal for storage in the hangar. I was doing my preflight and was checking out the front tire/strut. As went to stand up, the back of my head hit the prop, and hard. I yelled “ouch”. A split second later, after a reflexive bounce of the back of my skull off the prop and forward motion, the front of my skull hit the canard with an even louder cuss word. I saw stars. I looked for a dent on the canard, but found none. I actually started laughing, even though it hurt. Bang, BANG!! “Ouch! F—-!!!).

    Shin damage isn’t reserved for low wings. Couple bloody shin dings from the gear leg fairings and steps.

    Stupid planes (or pilots).
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2021
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  12. timrb

    timrb Pre-takeoff checklist

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    On my first solo cross-country in a 172 I found BOTH doors had popped open (or maybe I just forgot to close them--I don't remember). Anyway, that's when I found out you can steer a 172 with the doors.

    Tim
     
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  13. Pugs

    Pugs Line Up and Wait

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    Up on a ladder fueling the club 182 last Tuesday in the dark and cold on an icy ramp after a 3 hour flight home from GA, I told my wife "no high wing when we buy. When I'm 70 years old this is a non-starter"

    But she insists on two doors..... Commander 114B/115 here I come I suspect.
     
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  14. OneCharlieTango

    OneCharlieTango Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I had a similar experience squatting to sump the Bonanza!

    They make chocolate and vanilla for a reason. . . .
     
  15. Pugs

    Pugs Line Up and Wait

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    No one has broken a leg doing that. :D But, yes, flying the 182/182RG and Archer makes me appreciate both. Not ruling out a Bonanza but wife hates the one door.
     
  16. drummer4468

    drummer4468 Pre-Flight

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    Haha, I've been flying beech sundowners for a while now, through my IR and now commercial training.

    Excellent comparison. I think my biggest challenge to overcome in the Beeches has been mastering slow flight. Whereas a 172 will forgivingly mush to the end of the earth and back, I always felt like the Sundowner was gonna drop out from under me at anything under 75-80kt. Sounds foolish to me now, but it was a real struggle nailing landing speeds when I first transitioned. Not to mention the first Sundowner I ever flew, early in my PPL, had a notoriously heavy right wing that made early stall training real exciting. Otherwise I do agree, low wings feel much more stable and sporty in the air. Probably looking at a Bonanza whenever I do get around to purchasing my own.

    I will say, though, Cessnas still have a place in my heart. Yeah they're not as sporty, but for nice, relaxed, low-n-slow sightseeing type flights, the lighter controls and downward visibility make them more comfy and cushy to fly IMO. And the 180hp ones I flew performed very well on hot summer days. Which is another point I credit the 172 on, those gigantic ram air vents are LIFESAVERS in the summer, compared to the virtually useless vents and "window hatch" on the sundowner. A tool for every job I suppose.

    My very first solo lap around the pattern, the right door opened lol. The funniest part is that I was wearing a GoPro headband, and you can see me looking around for the noise before target-locking onto the open door for a triple-take. After pooping myself a little, I turned downwind and closed it uneventfully.
     
  17. ETres

    ETres Line Up and Wait

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    I once carved a gutter down the middle of my bald head from walking into the trailing-edge of my old 182. I stumbled forward to my knees, things went dim for a moment, then came the pain and trickling blood. I turned to look, and there was about a 4-inch strip of skin still dangling from the edge.
     
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  18. Sac Arrow

    Sac Arrow Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Bro do you even lift
    I would not say that low wings necessarily have a lower center of gravity. Low wings have to rely on dihedral to lower the CG as to where high wings can have minimal to even negative dihedral (think Harrier and F4 Phantom.) Trust me, I like flying low wings better, but a 172 is a much better hands off plane than a Cherokee is, in the absence of a decent autopilot.

    My landings in a 172 suck if I haven't done them in a while after flying the Arrow. I deal with piano glide ratios better than float.

    But if you want a perfect landing airplane... Bonanza.
     
  19. WannFly

    WannFly Final Approach

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    Funny thing, I was walking around the mx shop today and I almost walked into the pitot tube of a taildragger.... darn high wings.
     
  20. William Pete Hodges

    William Pete Hodges Pre-takeoff checklist

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    My understanding is the dihedral doesn't lower the center of gravity but instead induces a positive righting moment in a shallow bank because a wing at 0 degrees horizontal produces more vertical force than the opposite wing being tilted upward so many degrees of dihedral. The CG is lower because the weight of the wing and its components are under the cabin instead of above it. Wings and fuel both have weight right?
     
  21. AKBill

    AKBill En-Route

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    My low wing has 2 doors.....:)
     
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  22. Kritchlow

    Kritchlow Final Approach

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    Don’t forget... high wings have an extremely reliable fuel pump.
     
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  23. Sac Arrow

    Sac Arrow Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Bro do you even lift
    I don't know about the righting moment due to dihedral (you may well be right) but with respect to CG, remember we're talking the vertical CG with respect with the vertical center of lift. In an absolute sense, yes, a low winged plane will have a lower CG, but the vertical center of lift will also be low with the wings. Dihedral will help raise that.

    A metal winged 172 probably isn't a good descriptive example, but say a fabric skinned Cub with an inboard tank is going to have little mass contributed by the wings, but the vertical center of lift will be basically at the underside of the wings.
     
  24. Mtns2Skies

    Mtns2Skies En-Route

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    Sounds like you need to be shorter :). My Skywagon is the perfect height that I clear the wing.

    I'll take a high wing any day around snow drifts and runway lights...
    PXL_20210215_143208392.jpg PXL_20210215_143212120.jpg
     
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  25. samiamPA

    samiamPA Pre-Flight

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    All of this seems exactly spot on for me, with one big exception - I never felt that the low wing was more sporty. My club had a 1999 Cherokee 180 and 172 (180hp) and as much as I wanted to love the Cherokee, I just never could get over how heavy the controls were.
     
  26. William Pete Hodges

    William Pete Hodges Pre-takeoff checklist

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    You are probably right about the CG being lower in the air, but you are incorrect about the CG being lower on the ground. With the wing up high and the wing above the fuselage the CG is much much farther from the ground then a low wing. This makes the high wing airplane less stable when the wheels are in contact with the ground, as when you are landing or taking off. This makes the low wing airplane less likely to ground roll or cartwheel in high gusty winds. I got hit with a HARD side gust one time while landing my Cherokee and it skidded sideways instead of lifting a wing. In a high wing I'd likely have rolled hard away from the wind and would have had to work hard to either go around or salvage the landing. All I actually had to do was steer into the skid (with rudder) and then return to the centerline for the rest of my ground roll. Anyway, it is just one more difference to consider.
     
  27. David Megginson

    David Megginson Cleared for Takeoff

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    I collected my share of forehead dents training in Cessnas, but in 18+ years of owning a Piper PA-28, I've somehow never managed to hit a shin on a wing. I've bruised or cut nearly every other part of my body on nearly every other part of the plane over the years, but strangely, never that.
     
  28. WannFly

    WannFly Final Approach

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    How tall are you?
     
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  29. David Megginson

    David Megginson Cleared for Takeoff

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    This is a "yes, but…" thing.

    Yes, high wings don't need two fuel pumps (main and backup) like low wings do, and you don't have to remember to switch tanks …

    … but if you fly your high wing with the fuel selector set to "Both" (as most C172 etc pilots do), when you're out of fuel, you're really out of fuel. If I ever inadvertently run a tank dry in my Piper PA-28 (say, because of a slow fuel-line leak), I'll probably still have a few gallons left in the other tank to get me to a precautionary landing.
     
  30. GRG55

    GRG55 Final Approach

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    4 foot, 6 inches. :p

    I like to get the most out of my time, so I am always texting customers and business associates while I do my walk arounds. Very productive, but hard on the shins sometimes. ;)

    The most lethal things on my high wing are the aileron spades. I hook a loop with survey ribbon tails on each of them when it's in the hangar just I don't forget. And I never wear a ball cap working around the Dawg; that's a guaranteed way to achieve a noggin strike.
     
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2021
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  31. Zeldman

    Zeldman Touchdown! Greaser!

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    You can always spot a Cessna pilot by the diamond shaped scar on the forehead. You can tell the intelligence of a Cessna pilot by the number of diamond shaped scars on the forehead.....:lol:

    Man, that made me weak in the knees just reading that....:hairraise:
     
  32. ktup-flyer

    ktup-flyer En-Route

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    Sounds like you need a bigger high wing
     
  33. asicer

    asicer Final Approach

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    Now I'm starting to understand why one of the first things on my high-wing pre-flight checklist is to put the flaps down...
     
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  34. IK04

    IK04 Pattern Altitude

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    Despite having most of my single engine time in high wing airplanes, the only time I ever hit my head enough to bleed was jumping into a PA-28 and catching my forehead on the door frame.

    Bled like a fountain and I needed stitches...

    I finally did hit my head on my own airplane last year while it was jacked up, working on the brakes. It wasn't the trailing edge, but something got me on top of my head...

    As I taught my daughter, who was prone to falling down as a child, "Cool Scar!"
     
  35. Fearless Tower

    Fearless Tower Touchdown! Greaser!

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    There is an old saying....

    “When one door closes, another one opens....other than that it was a good Cessna”
     
  36. Doug Reid

    Doug Reid Line Up and Wait

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    I wish I had a dollar for every time I walked into the trailing edge of my Cessna 195...and for every time I crawled out from under the wing of my Bonanza and scraped my back on a fuel overflow vent.
     
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2021
  37. Huckster79

    Huckster79 Pattern Altitude

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    As you gain experience getting off track on a 2 mile final is about as detrimental as bird farts... but till you have gained more confidence abort is better than crunching...

    man hey I just want to say welcome to the fraternity...
    2E02C9C8-CF70-43C2-B170-9E0960367C95.jpeg
     
  38. drummer4468

    drummer4468 Pre-Flight

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    Oof! Yeah, it wasn't getting off-course that I was worried about, my mind was more-so on the terrain and what seemed like the valley beside me funneling the wind gusts, rolling me about 45* left even with hard right aileron. Was coming over a ridge (field is set into kind of a bowl between mountains) and didn't want to tempt the gusts or get surprised with a downdraft of that magnitude. A more experienced pilot would probably laugh at me but I'm still new to that level of terrain lol.
     
  39. Daleandee

    Daleandee Line Up and Wait

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    One door closing and another door opening sounds to me like you're in prison ... :D
     
  40. Huckster79

    Huckster79 Pattern Altitude

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    oh gotcha, no not necessarily... i mistook what ya said. Yea that was a good call!