That Smooth Landing

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pelmet
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That Smooth Landing

Post by pelmet » Sat Jan 19, 2019 7:30 pm

Just reading a thread on another forum with plenty of experts talking about smooth landings and how they are getting them but it has me worried. Keep in mind that I am talking about tricycle gear aircraft.

Here are a couple of quotes....
#1 "The best landing advice I ever received for smooth landings was from my first instructor who said
1. Practice
2. Keep your heels off the floorboards
3. Just before touchdown try to hold it off the runway as long as possible."



#2 "Fly the airplane down the glide slope but think of it as you don’t want to let the airplane touch the runway (unless wheel landing a tail wheel airplane). You should be in a full flare literally inches off the runway. You know you done it right if the airplane stalls just as the wheels are touching the surface."

Why am I worried? Because while I use this technique for nice three-pointers in taildraggers. you are inviting a tailstrike on a tricycle gear aircraft, or at least some types. By the way, in post #2, the guy says not to use this technique in taildraggers. He has it backwards. A flight school that I fly at sent a memo out last year about tail strikes in their 172's(mostly the newer S models that are heavier) and they figure that it is because people are holding the aircraft off the ground too long.


Be careful about trying to hold the aircraft off too long in a tricycle gear aircraft unless you are familiar enough with it that you know it is safe. I am not saying that all types have a tailstrike risk if this landing method is done, but I believe some do.


Perhaps some others have opinions to add.
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iflyforpie
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Re: That Smooth Landing

Post by iflyforpie » Sat Jan 19, 2019 7:46 pm

I’ve never managed to hit the tail on landing in any light aircraft I’ve ever flown and I’ve held off until the elevator hits the stops. The only way I could see it happening is adding copious amounts of power and back stick in a soft field gone mad—same reason it usually happens on takeoff.

Otherwise... you either balloon from too much airspeed with full stick back or you run out of elevator authority and the plane settles.
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Re: That Smooth Landing

Post by digits_ » Sat Jan 19, 2019 7:53 pm

I'm surprised you can tailstrike a 172. The "hold it off as long as possible" is advice for new students. I haven't encountered a typical training airplane where the risk of a tailstrike is real. I hope the instructor who gives the advice knows how his airplane behaves in such a situation. I'd say, in general, the advice is pretty good. Although I usually give that advice to get an acceptable landing, not to get a super smooth landing. It's not the most effective explanation for a smooth landing because you do frequently end up with a bit of a drop while people are learning that could result in a bit of a bounce once the nose attitude approaches the upper limit.

I wouldn't give that advice to tailwheel planes, because the goal, in general, for a 3 point tailwheel landing is to get the attitude perfect upon touchdown. A bit like landing a floatplane. You want to get it exactly right, you don't want to hold it off until it drops down. No, you want it to toch down in a certain attitude. Smoothness is not a target in that exercise. Up to a certain point of course.

With a nosewheel airplane, there is a much wider margin of touch down attitudes that are acceptable, basically anything between "not a nosewheel landing" and "not a tailstrike" is somewhat ok. More room to play with the feel of the airplane at slower speeds and more room to try and smoothen it out.
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Re: That Smooth Landing

Post by digits_ » Sat Jan 19, 2019 7:55 pm

iflyforpie wrote:
Sat Jan 19, 2019 7:46 pm
I’ve never managed to hit the tail on landing in any light aircraft I’ve ever flown and I’ve held off until the elevator hits the stops. The only way I could see it happening is adding copious amounts of power and back stick in a soft field gone mad—same reason it usually happens on takeoff.

Otherwise... you either balloon from too much airspeed with full stick back or you run out of elevator authority and the plane settles.
Oh it happens. Some Robin airplanes are known for that during normal landings. Usually not the ones for initial training though, but it's definitely possible. If the plane has a big piece of metal under the tail, you can be pretty sure someone will tailstrike it at some point. Especially if that piece of metal is all shiny and sharp :D
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Re: That Smooth Landing

Post by AuxBatOn » Sat Jan 19, 2019 9:24 pm

" You know you done it right if the airplane stalls just as the wheels are touching the surface."

This is wrong and it can be dangerous in some conditions. If one doesn't judge his/her height properly, it can make for a hard landing. Also, if the stall characteristics of the aircraft are such that it is prone to wing drop, it may lead to an uncoordinated landing with no lateral control power left which can break airplanes.

The ideal landing is when you touchdown where you want in the attitude you want. Greasing a lamding is not a measure of a good landing in my books. In facf, I sometimes want to touch hard (short runway, reduced friction coefficient, etc)
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pelmet
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Re: That Smooth Landing

Post by pelmet » Sat Jan 19, 2019 9:32 pm

digits_ wrote:
Sat Jan 19, 2019 7:55 pm
Oh it happens. Some Robin airplanes are known for that during normal landings. Usually not the ones for initial training though, but it's definitely possible. If the plane has a big piece of metal under the tail, you can be pretty sure someone will tailstrike it at some point. Especially if that piece of metal is all shiny and sharp :D
True, I have heard the tailskid scrape in a Robin 2160 and the skid had lots of wear on it.
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Re: That Smooth Landing

Post by PilotDAR » Sat Jan 19, 2019 10:59 pm

Generally, I like the advice. I do not like the bit about heels off the floor! Heels on the floor to assure that you're off the brakes!

I agree that a full stall is not needed, and should not be the objective in a landing flare in a tricycle aircraft, though if you're close enough that the plane settled on steadily with the stall warning beginning to bleat, that's probably okay. Power off in a properly loaded airplane, I think you'd have to be abusive to get the tail to bang. I have seen it done, but in improperly loaded airplanes, or pilots horsing around. I do like the idea that the pilot will finish the landing rollout with the nose still held light with aft stick. I remember with some alarm, an instructor trying to train me to three point a DA-42, so as not to bang the tail. I had never banged the tail before in my many DA-42 landings, so I did not know why this one would be any different. After demonstrating that I could three point it, he got out, and I finished my test program on the plane with nice mainwheel first, nose held light landings. I mused that the plane may have been thinking "Ahhhh" to itself for being landed without needless strain on the nosewheel. During my flying in both the Twin Comanche, and Bellanca Viking, I found that fairly assertive nose up is required at touchdown, and thereafter as it slowed, to prevent wheelbarrowing.

As for taildraggers, my preference if a short/soft field landing is not required, is to wheel land. Even if the tailwheel touches for a moment at touchdown, I'll try to lift it off again with stick forward a little, and I will steadily move the stick to full forward during the landing roll as the plane slows. No one has ever trained me that any particular taildragger type preferred a three point landing, though I have been firmly trained that a few must be wheel landed, so that' will be my objective for any taildragger I fly, unless instructed otherwise by a type experienced pilot. I have found that some types, including Cessnas with STOL kits can be landed tailwheel first, which can result in a rough landing, bounce, and reduction in directional control as the bounce is arrested. I don't know if I'm good enough to fix a bad landing, so I just try to avoid doing them.
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Re: That Smooth Landing

Post by digits_ » Sat Jan 19, 2019 11:04 pm

PilotDAR wrote:
Sat Jan 19, 2019 10:59 pm
No one has ever trained me that any particular taildragger type preferred a three point landing, though I have been firmly trained that a few must be wheel landed, so that' will be my objective for any taildragger I fly, unless instructed otherwise by a type experienced pilot. I have found that some types, including Cessnas with STOL kits can be landed tailwheel first, which can result in a rough landing, bounce, and reduction in directional control as the bounce is arrested. I don't know if I'm good enough to fix a bad landing, so I just try to avoid doing them.
You probably already know, but the certified versions of the pitts suggest a tailwheel first touchdown as the preferred technique. I was fairly surprised about that, as a tailwheel first touchdown for a taildragger gave me the same heebeejeebees as your diamond nosewheel story, but it actually works very well for that plane.
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Re: That Smooth Landing

Post by aeroncasuperchief » Sun Jan 20, 2019 12:35 am

You don't want to get into a habit of overly smooth landings, then do it on a smooth runway in the rain ( Hydroplaning )
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Re: That Smooth Landing

Post by pelmet » Sun Jan 20, 2019 1:03 am

digits_ wrote:
Sat Jan 19, 2019 7:53 pm
I'm surprised you can tailstrike a 172. The "hold it off as long as possible" is advice for new students. I haven't encountered a typical training airplane where the risk of a tailstrike is real.
Here is one. Held it off after a bounce. As I said, be careful....

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mIo2lIFzrVY

Here is another one. Once again a bounce and once again, holding it off until a stall...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BlmFu1BgNlQ

Be careful of the advice you get and don't hold off as long as possible.
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Re: That Smooth Landing

Post by photofly » Sun Jan 20, 2019 5:15 am

I’m fully in favour of “hold it off as long as possible”. I’ve never had a tail strike in a 172. Not even landing with the flaps fully retracted. Can’t tell much in the second video, but there was a lot else to work on in the first one. The pilot ballooned, shoved the nose down, landed flat, hauled back hard to leave the ground again, rolled to the left, stalled, and then touched the tail. I’d check the throttle setting too. Some power left in or added after a bounce will hold or push the nose up.
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Re: That Smooth Landing

Post by youhavecontrol » Sun Jan 20, 2019 8:01 am

I'm getting very weary of the, "you must do it like this every time." attitude. "Hold it off as long as possible" can become insane and can lead to some seriously dangerous attitudes if taken too literally. "You want it to stall just before touch-down" can also be insane. Same with "ALWAYS use power during a soft-field landing." There's so many examples that make instructors pull their hair out. It's tough to teach basics without making absolute templates of everything.

The problem is, an inexperienced pilot can take all of this stuff too literally, too absolutely and it can lead to serious consequences. I had a student crash-land a plane because her previous instructor taught her to "just overshoot after a bounce" instead of showing her how to manage energy properly and maintain an ideal touch-down attitude to the point of contact. She was fed a bunch of templates that worked in normal circumstances until she was on her own, the aircraft was lighter, the wind was perfectly calm... and she had no idea why the airplane was taking so long to touch-down.

The internet can be a horrible place to learn critical motor-sensory actions like aircraft control on landing. Often, it comes down to a bunch of people writing their personal experiences of the type they flew at the aerodrome they flew at, under the SOP's of their flight school.
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Re: That Smooth Landing

Post by photofly » Sun Jan 20, 2019 8:19 am

youhavecontrol wrote:
Sun Jan 20, 2019 8:01 am
I'm getting very weary of the, "you must do it like this every time." attitude.
I don’t hear anyone saying this. In fact in the context of flying, I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone say that, anywhere.
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Re: That Smooth Landing

Post by aeroncasuperchief » Sun Jan 20, 2019 9:30 am

The reason you don't force the A/C into the air on TO in a windy situation is the same reason you don't land with a full stall in gusty situations... Lack of control/ Margins !
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Re: That Smooth Landing

Post by digits_ » Sun Jan 20, 2019 10:48 am

youhavecontrol wrote:
Sun Jan 20, 2019 8:01 am
I had a student crash-land a plane because her previous instructor taught her to "just overshoot after a bounce" instead of showing her how to manage energy properly and maintain an ideal touch-down attitude to the point of contact.
What's wrong with that now? The exception to the "always" rule could very well be that a light airplane can -for all practical purposes- always go around. Going around after a bounce is a skill that should be mastered before you attempt to correct a bounce.

If she couldn't properly execute a go-around after a bounce, I have zero faith she could recover from it.

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Re: That Smooth Landing

Post by youhavecontrol » Sun Jan 20, 2019 10:53 am

photofly wrote:
Sun Jan 20, 2019 8:19 am
youhavecontrol wrote:
Sun Jan 20, 2019 8:01 am
I'm getting very weary of the, "you must do it like this every time." attitude.
I don’t hear anyone saying this. In fact in the context of flying, I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone say that, anywhere.
Maybe you haven't heard it stated directly like that, but people definitely read information that way and can un-knowingly pass it on in that way. In the context of all the things I wrote after what you quoted, I guess my personal experience has led me to write what I wrote. Not to mention a few years of trying to break ab-initios out of the 'always...every time' mentality. I absolutely see it everywhere and unfortunately it often comes from weak instruction. I can't count how many times I've done a supervisory flight with a student, watched them set the power too high on approach, then asked them after the overshoot, "why did you use 1500 if you knew you were high on the approach?" only to hear them say, "My instructor taught me to use 1500 on approach." While the instructor probably didn't say "always," it probably came out that way.

What I wrote was not directed at you, but the information people share in general. There's always danger when something is emphasized too much with the background reasoning, physics or risk factors not entirely understood or properly stated... which is next to impossible in the echo-chamber of an internet forum. Why do people get heated about tailwheel v/s wheel landings? There's no correct answer when we're often talking about entirely different aircraft/runway surfaces/airports/etc.

Anyways, here's something directed at you.
"I’m fully in favour of “hold it off as long as possible”. I’ve never had a tail strike in a 172. " with respect, this sounds like an absolute comment to me, and that's dangerous to pass on to a student. ...and I've definitely stopped students from a tail strike in a 172 during short-field landings because of exactly what you are in favour of.
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Re: That Smooth Landing

Post by youhavecontrol » Sun Jan 20, 2019 10:58 am

digits_ wrote:
Sun Jan 20, 2019 10:48 am
youhavecontrol wrote:
Sun Jan 20, 2019 8:01 am
I had a student crash-land a plane because her previous instructor taught her to "just overshoot after a bounce" instead of showing her how to manage energy properly and maintain an ideal touch-down attitude to the point of contact.
What's wrong with that now? The exception to the "always" rule could very well be that a light airplane can -for all practical purposes- always go around. Going around after a bounce is a skill that should be mastered before you attempt to correct a bounce.

If she couldn't properly execute a go-around after a bounce, I have zero faith she could recover from it.
Imagine how nervous a student gets after the 4th go-around on their first solo... with ATC becoming frustrated. That's exactly what happened to her. You simply cannot always go around again, and again, and again. Her previous instruction was horribly lacking. I started working with her post-crash. I spent a crazy amount of time building her up again after that. She was damn terrified.
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Re: That Smooth Landing

Post by digits_ » Sun Jan 20, 2019 11:06 am

youhavecontrol wrote:
Sun Jan 20, 2019 10:53 am
I've definitely stopped students from a tail strike in a 172 during short-field landings because of exactly what you are in favour of.
I'm curious, how do you know? Have you had a tail strike in a 172 that you know what the limit is? Or did you stop them because it felt too high, which could have just been a feeling?
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Re: That Smooth Landing

Post by digits_ » Sun Jan 20, 2019 11:09 am

youhavecontrol wrote:
Sun Jan 20, 2019 10:58 am
Her previous instruction was horribly lacking.
That would probably be a fair assumption.
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Re: That Smooth Landing

Post by youhavecontrol » Sun Jan 20, 2019 11:14 am

digits_ wrote:
Sun Jan 20, 2019 11:06 am
youhavecontrol wrote:
Sun Jan 20, 2019 10:53 am
I've definitely stopped students from a tail strike in a 172 during short-field landings because of exactly what you are in favour of.
I'm curious, how do you know? Have you had a tail strike in a 172 that you know what the limit is? Or did you stop them because it felt too high, which could have just been a feeling?
Yes I have. Also, yes I did stop them... and I guess I'll never know how close it was, other than un-necessarily close, based on my experience.
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Re: That Smooth Landing

Post by digits_ » Sun Jan 20, 2019 11:21 am

youhavecontrol wrote:
Sun Jan 20, 2019 11:14 am
digits_ wrote:
Sun Jan 20, 2019 11:06 am
youhavecontrol wrote:
Sun Jan 20, 2019 10:53 am
I've definitely stopped students from a tail strike in a 172 during short-field landings because of exactly what you are in favour of.
I'm curious, how do you know? Have you had a tail strike in a 172 that you know what the limit is? Or did you stop them because it felt too high, which could have just been a feeling?
Yes I have. Also, yes I did stop them... and I guess I'll never know how close it was, other than un-necessarily close, based on my experience.
In what model and what configuration did that happen? I'm really curious, I did not expect you could tail strike a 172.
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Re: That Smooth Landing

Post by photofly » Sun Jan 20, 2019 11:50 am

youhavecontrol wrote:
Sun Jan 20, 2019 10:53 am
Anyways, here's something directed at you.
"I’m fully in favour of “hold it off as long as possible”. I’ve never had a tail strike in a 172. " with respect, this sounds like an absolute comment to me,
You hear what you want to hear. I'm happy with what I wrote.
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Re: That Smooth Landing

Post by youhavecontrol » Sun Jan 20, 2019 12:15 pm

digits_ wrote:
Sun Jan 20, 2019 11:21 am
youhavecontrol wrote:
Sun Jan 20, 2019 11:14 am
digits_ wrote:
Sun Jan 20, 2019 11:06 am


I'm curious, how do you know? Have you had a tail strike in a 172 that you know what the limit is? Or did you stop them because it felt too high, which could have just been a feeling?
Yes I have. Also, yes I did stop them... and I guess I'll never know how close it was, other than un-necessarily close, based on my experience.
In what model and what configuration did that happen? I'm really curious, I did not expect you could tail strike a 172.
For me, it was on a 172-M model in 40deg flaps on a soft-field landing attempt, if I remember correctly. I had too much power in and was flaring more and more... waiting for that sink. Our school had little skid marks on almost every tie-down loop from others bumping it during soft-fields, mostly. If I remember correctly, it happened for me when I was in training, with another student in the back.
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Re: That Smooth Landing

Post by C.W.E. » Sun Jan 20, 2019 4:34 pm

2. Keep your heels off the floorboards
Why?
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Re: That Smooth Landing

Post by digits_ » Sun Jan 20, 2019 4:48 pm

youhavecontrol wrote:
Sun Jan 20, 2019 12:15 pm
digits_ wrote:
Sun Jan 20, 2019 11:21 am
youhavecontrol wrote:
Sun Jan 20, 2019 11:14 am


Yes I have. Also, yes I did stop them... and I guess I'll never know how close it was, other than un-necessarily close, based on my experience.
In what model and what configuration did that happen? I'm really curious, I did not expect you could tail strike a 172.
For me, it was on a 172-M model in 40deg flaps on a soft-field landing attempt, if I remember correctly. I had too much power in and was flaring more and more... waiting for that sink. Our school had little skid marks on almost every tie-down loop from others bumping it during soft-fields, mostly. If I remember correctly, it happened for me when I was in training, with another student in the back.
Aha, ok. The explanation I give to make those first landings is "power idle and try to stay in the air as long as possible". Power on and trying to keep it in the air as long as possible kind of defeats the purpose of a short field landing. At a short field landing you use a bit of power to get a slower approach speed, but you have to cut the power to actually touch down. And that might very well be a bit of a rougher touchdown, that's perfectly fine.
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