Learning to fly, or thinking of learning? Post your questions, comments and experiences here

Moderator: AndyR

I just got back from a local bimble - it was my first trip taking my wife and I'm pleased to report she enjoyed it (which is great; the door is now open to explain why buying my own aircraft is an essential investment!)

Two things happened on my flight that I'm now trying to dissect in my mind and I'd love to throw it open to others to comment. I think I did everything correctly, textbook, and did a good job, but I'm not certain and I'd like to know what else I could have done.

I suspect that the two issues have the same cause. The issue was the lumpiness of the takeoff roll and the bumpiness of the landing rollout.

Flying from Headcorn 28 (so, grass), I used soft-field technique. A short distance on the takeoff roll it felt like the aircraft hit a lump and the the nose bounced up and down a lot more than I'm used to; the aircraft then lifted up (all wheels) before gently settling back down again before climbing away, albeit sluggishly. The only way I could describe it was the aircraft bounced airborne during takeoff!

The aircraft was within W&B, CoG all fine, but at the very top end admittedly (caused by me, not my wife just in case she ever finds this).

I'd held off the nosewheel correctly, but not too much; my hypothesis was that it hit a lump which jolted it airborne before the airspeed was sufficient, so it settled, bounced a little and then was airborne fine after that. I've questioned whether I was holding the stick back too much, but I don't think I was.

On landing, I had a good, stable approach, very little wind, approach speed nailed on. The landing was smooth and it touched down rear wheels first, but then no sooner had the aircraft settled it appeared to hit a lump and - very quickly - it knocked it airborne again; had I taken no action I had a feeling it was going to start porpoising, so I put a little blast of power in to cushion it and effect a smooth second touchdown a little way down the runway, before letting it rollout nicely and turning off the runway.

I think that I did a good job on both; I kept the nosewheel protected on takeoff; I put a little spurt of power to cushion the bounce on landing and bring it down smoothly, but it took me by surprise and wasn't that enjoyable - it felt like the runway was VERY bumpy. The bit that was most worrying was the landing as although it was a good, smooth landing at the right speed, I was very quickly bounced into the start of purpoising behaviour*.

It's actually been a couple of years since I landed on 28 at Headcorn, when I was at circuit stage in my training, but recently I've been using 10 as chance would have it.

So, a few questions from me (and perhaps anyone familiar with Headcorn wil have inside info):

Is it likely that a lumpy runway would explain the above? Am I being too generous to myself?
Other than soft-field techniques, is there anything else I should have done had I known the surface was lumpy?

Fortunately, my wife didn't particularly notice how unusually bumpy the takeoff or landing rolls were, but I definitely did!

*The other bit that's niggling/annoying me is that I didn't go around. To be honest, I was so slow at this point that I'm pleased instead I recovered it with a burst of power rather than putting full power in and going around, but still - there's something bothering me that my immediate response wasn't 'go around', even if the end result was a nice smooth landing.

Lots to learn for the next time.
Flyin'Dutch' liked this
What aircraft type?

I'm guessing that you're a bit rusty after CV19? Worth waiting for instruction to become available to help build confidence back up?
You're flying an aircraft in a configuration you aren't used to and you'll be hyper sensitive due to your precious self loading freight, so don't be too hard on yourself!
riverrock wrote:What aircraft type?

I'm guessing that you're a bit rusty after CV19? Worth waiting for instruction to become available to help build confidence back up?
You're flying an aircraft in a configuration you aren't used to and you'll be hyper sensitive due to your precious self loading freight, so don't be too hard on yourself!

C42; fourth flight in the past month, last flight a couple of weeks ago, 8 months post qualification. Confidence not an issue in itself (although I'm definitely on the inexperienced side!)...but I suspect I am being too hard on myself.

Still, this didn't feel 'right' at all, but I might just be overanalysing it.
I suspect you are overthinking it. Not sure why you would be using softfield technique unless you have had a lot more rain than we have!

I find even our hefty TB 20 and a rough field like White Waltham may involve more than one take off on departure and more than one landing on arrival! :D
Rob P, T6Harvard liked this
I've had a couple of suspect take-offs at close to MTOW and aft CoG.

By holding the stick back and using a soft field technique you are holding the wing at an increased angle of attack, so may launch of a bump in a near stalled condition on the back end of the drag curve. I would suggest holding the weight off the front wheel but let the speed build up more before getting airborne.

IIRC there are a couple of bumps near the 28 threshold at Headcorn. Start your take off run slightly further along - you're not going to need all of the runway in a C42.

Landings? Still a mystery. Wind shear on short final is always a good standby to mention.
I'm not familiar with Headcorn, but at my local airfield the "normal" (longest, aligned with the prevailing wind) runway is cambered, presumably for drainage. When using one of the intersecting runways, there's a noticeable incline and decline when going through the intersection. I don't remember having used that runway for years, but I do recall that it's basically impossible to use it as smoothly as the "normal" runway because of this. And of course this would affect both takeoff and landing. In my case setting down just at top of the camber instead of just before it helps, but then of course the remaining runway length is compromised.
Thanks for all your replies and comments. Having slept on it and replayed things over in my head, I've got some thoughts and and some actions.

First, I'm going to book an hour with my instructor (when allowed!) and have a session focussing on really dialling in my landings. I've a tendency to come in a bit too shallow with slightly too much power on (bit of a psychoanalysis tells me it was probably a habit formed early in my training, when I'd come in far too high and always need to slip on final).

I think I was right with my original analysis of my OP: on both takeoff and landing I encountered some of the lumpier areas of the runway, but on landing I suspect I was coming in a bit too fast and shallow, which gave the bump the opportunity to jolt me in a way that a slightly steeper, slightly slower approach wouldn't.

On takeoff, I think it was just one of those things and perhaps I was holding the stick back a bit too much and a bit too cautiously, so the bump got me airborne before the aircraft was ready. In future, I won't hold it back as much.

Next step will be some time with an instructor to correct those bad habits!
T6Harvard liked this