Expect Left Traffic

Flight 26 – The velveteen touch of a dandy fop

NOTE: I accidentally made this a page, so the post is WAY late.

That’s how lightly we’re supposed to settle on to the runway during a soft field landing.  I didn’t.  I’ll practice, but my stifled laugh isn’t what it used to be.  Soft field technique is used for un/under improved runways.  Places where the ground is soft or muddy, gravel, riverbeds, etc.  During takeoff, everything is the same as normal except you use 10° flaps and you’re applying full back pressure on the yoke, easing it forward once the front gear pops off the runway.  Not too far forward as you don’t want it to settle back on to the ground try to keep in that pitch attitude as long as you can.  During this I was surprised at how quickly the nose came off the ground, and was certainly not expecting the plane to pop up not long after (I tried to keep the nose off and the mains on as long as I could).  Coaxing the plane to hang out in ground effect while it built up speed was quite fun though, once I got over the initial surprise of being fully off the ground.  You really only get one real shot to practice the takeoff during touch and goes (and that’s when you first get started), as you hardly slow down enough during an “and go” to get it done.  My soft field landings didn’t go as smoothly as the take off, but that may have a lot to do with being in a plane I’m not terribly familiar with.  Most of the Cessnas I fly in have 160 horsepower, and this one pushes 180.  It also has a shorter throttle travel which takes some warming up to.  During a soft field landing you approach at full flaps, and try to touch down as light as possible.  Normally when you come in you’ve got very little or no power, and you’re simply trying to bleed off airspeed while holding the plane just barely off the ground.  With a soft field landing you add a touch of power to slow your descent rate (but not enough to arrest it) and try to just barely settle on to the ground.  Then kill the power and hold the nose off as long as you can.  Once it’s back on the ground, keep that yoke all the way in the pit of your stomach, so that the front gear is as light on the ground as possible while you taxi.  Get that stuck in the mud while you’re rolling forward and you’re asking for a prop strike.  Delicious.

Anyway, I’ve noticed I have a tendency to not get to these for a day or two after I fly.  I’m going to try and make a point to be better about that.  I like having some time to reflect, but having the flight fresher in memory would be helpful as well.

May 25th, 2008 Posted by | Flying |

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