Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Solo Practice 11: Landings make Steve angry

Plane: Cessna 150
Route: 40I-MGY-40I
Weather: Clear, 52 degrees, wind 010 degrees at 9 knots gusting to 14

Alright, so I can fly the plane just fine - Dave tells me this all the time. I can take off, fly around wherever, and land safely back home without incident. But the perfectionist in me is coming out and I'm getting really finicky with my landings. I know what I'm doing wrong, but I have not yet figured out the perfect combination of actions to grease it in every time. Oh, this only applies to the Cessna - I've made quite a few great landings in the Champ. Whoda thunk the taildragger would be easier to fly?

Primary issues:
  • When I transition to the roundout after cutting power to idle at the end of the runway, I pull back too quickly and balloon. I need to be more gentle and slow in moving the yoke back to bleed off the remaining airspeed and let the plane settle slowly as I flare.
  • During the flare, I rarely get the yoke back all the way before the wheels hit. Sight-wise the nose should be on the horizon when the wheels touch and I am not doing that consistently.
  • Watching my yaw - it's not that often but occasionally when correcting for a crosswind with aileron I do not properly straighten out the plane so it touches pointing straight down the runway.
If I can list these things I should be able to go out and fix them, right? Not so far. And tonight was no different. One landing was quite nice but most of them resulted in the all-too-common balloon and one ended up a little crooked. Heck, I didn't even fly a good pattern tonight!

My patterns around Dayton Wright Brothers (MGY) tonight

I'll stop piling on myself, as not everything was bad. Some of the funky patterns at Wright Brothers were due to other traffic in the pattern flying farther out from the airport... I had to extend my legs to avoid cutting anyone off or following too close behind. My landing back at Stewart with a nearly direct crosswind was smooth and well done too. Overall, landing that darn 150 is still nagging on me but I'm sure it will all come together sometime soon!

Flight Track: Google Earth KMZ File
Today's Flight: 1.0 hours
Solo/PIC Time: 20.3 hours
Total Time: 63.8 hours


  1. Hang in there, you'll put it all together one of these days, and then you won't be able to understand why you were having problems.

  2. After years of flying, I still don't "grease" it every time. Any landing you walk away from is a good one.
    #1 Make sure you are safe
    #2 Landings will always drive you nuts!!

  3. Thanks, guys! I went through similar issues with the Champ and I know landings will be the never-ending quest perfection. But that doesn't mean I won't keep bitching about them... ;-)

  4. Vent all you want...it helps, trust me. But, if the 150 is anything like the 152, it will *click* for you all of a sudden. It's the frustrating part of training in two airplanes...you have to master the landing part twice! You'll get it, though.

  5. There's definitely more learning with the dual-plane approach, but I think we're better off for it in the end.

    And trust me, those trusty Cessna gear have made more than a few less-than-good approaches look like awesome landings.

  6. Steve, if the airplane seems really prone to ballooning, you might double-check your approach speed. In particular, remember that the bottom of the white arc is the stall speed *at gross weight*. But the stall speed with just you in the airplane will be less than that: specifically Vs = Vsgross * sqrt(actualweight/grossweight). So if you're flying the approach at 1.3 * Vs0_gross, you might be flying at something like 1.4 *Vs0_actual when it's just you in the airplane. You'll have to do the math for your airplane(s) to see what the actual difference is, but it's worth looking at.

  7. Vance,

    That's a great point - thanks for bringing it to my attention. I try to hold 60 kias on approach and slow a little on short final. The bottom of the white arc is around 42, so that means 1.3 is 55 - at gross. So there's a good chance I should be closer to 50 when I'm over the numbers. I'll pay closer attention to that next time I go up. Thanks!

  8. So Steve, you are endorsed to fly solo to and land at MGY?

  9. Yup, I had Dave endorse me for flights to MGY and MWO about a month ago so I can go practice on hard surface runways and different patterns - MWO has right traffic.

  10. My experience is quite limited, but my instructor has me handle crosswinds with a sideslip, landing on the upwind wheel. I think he's trying to extend the life of the landing gear on the club's T-41s :)