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FlyingMonkey

My Shortest Runway Yet

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Today I went with my buddy and landed at "Johnson's Farm", a local grass strip about five miles from my local airport.  It was the shortest runway I'd ever landed on, about 1200 feet of which about 1100ft was actually usable (the end is too rough).  It's plenty wide, perhaps 80-100 feet. The surface is "decent" grass -- not the putting green, but not the deep rough either.  The surface was a bit bumpy, but not a real problem even with my non-tundra wheels and wheelpants.

 

We came in over the high trees (probably 50-75' tall) on the northern end.  Brian landed first in his Avid Flyer, since he has bigger tires and stout gear and could check the surface for me.  He reported the grass was good enough so I attempted my landing.  

 

The first pass I tried to come in too flat, and by the time I got past the trees and got it down to the grass I had eaten half the runway, so I powered up and went around.  The second time I started higher and came in steeper.  30° flaps and a slip to the stops at about 48-50 knots, which is my slowest approach speed for calm conditions (which we had).  

 

It worked out great and I was stopped just past the hay sheds about halfway down the runway.  This place is a family farm and they are super friendly.  Another friend of ours caught the wire fence with the gear of his Luscombe on landing a few weeks back (no damage to airplane).  He offered to pay for the fence repairs and the owners said "Don't worry about it, just keep coming back so the runway gets plenty of use."  Southern hospitality!

 

NOTE:  My airplane gear is not severely bent, I just parked with the right wheel on a slope.  :) 

 

Here's our two planes at the hay sheds looking back to the treeline at the approach end:

 

johnson2_zpsamwkh7f5.jpg

 

Parked by the shed with the "windsock":

 

johnson3_zpst2pg1ymx.jpg

 

The "windsock" :

 

johnson4_zpsz9tkrtuq.jpg

 

Lined up for departure.  The runway is humped, about a third a bit uphill and then mostly flat / slightly downhill:

 

johnson1_zpsl5xlnzwf.jpg

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Andy,

Southern or not, he ain't gonna be as hospitable once he sees the patch of dead grass from the 6 gallons or so of fuel you dumped out your low wing vent.

I always turn my plane so the wings level despite the terrain. If that means I'm not lined up with the tiedowns I just pick one and tie it off to the engine mount frame to hold the nose down. I think this is safer in a high wind anyway. Fortunately, our CTs are small enough that it seldom perturbs folks that I'm parked cattywampus.

Mike Koerner

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Mike, I have experienced the "vent puke" you refer to. In this case I only had 20 gallon onboard, and we were only parked about 10-15 minutes. Not long enough to transfer enough fuel to slosh out the vent.

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It's my opinion that a decently kept grass field is far easier on aircraft than ANY blacktop. Not good on teeth though!

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It's my opinion that a decently kept grass field is far easier on aircraft than ANY blacktop. Not good on teeth though!

Always a lot more bugs to clean though.????

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Here's my home field 500 metres long which is fine but just 10 metres wide (~ 30 ft) often with an electric fence down one side keeping the cattle off the runway. Runway length has never been an issue, width can be challenging in a crosswind but so far I've not had to divert.

 

https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5065/5683779095_965b66c9b5_b.jpg

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Ian, that's a nice looking runway!  30ft is pretty narrow, I hope there is a decent margin from the fence!  The strip in my pictures also has an electric fence on one side to contain cows, we taxied down that side and had to be careful to keep our wingtips away from it.

 

BTW, anybody in the Southeast of the US who wants to land on grass owes it to themselves to visit one of the fly-ins at Triple Tree Aerodrome (SC00) near Anderson, South Carolina.  It is a 7000x400 foot (!) runway, with grass literally like a putting green.  There is a newly-restored P-51D and one of the two flying C-46 airplanes in the world based there.  They have huge camping areas that can support hundreds of airplanes.  Honestly, I have as much fun at Triple Tree as I do at Oshkosh.

 

 triple_tree_over_the_beach.jpg

 

http://www.tripletreeaerodrome.com/index.php

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Are you sure about the C-46? Maybe it is a particular model. I think Ice Flyers NWT had two of them and another article I read said there were a dozen flying in 2009.

Many more C-47s of course.

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I may be wrong about two flying, that's just what I was told. Not many though, and more rare than the C-47.

Yes, and it seems that those flying are either in Alaska or in other countries. What you saw was very rare,

And the video of it landing on grass, I am not sure where else that could happen.

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Andy, nice job slipping on final.  If other CT owners haven't popped in and out of little grass strips, they're missing some of the best flying in their CT.  Our planes are so versatile.  Cruise at 120kts and short field land at 45kts.  Life is good  ;) 
 

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Andy, nice job slipping on final.  If other CT owners haven't popped in and out of little grass strips, they're missing some of the best flying in their CT.  Our planes are so versatile.  Cruise at 120kts and short field land at 45kts.  Life is good  ;) 

 

 

I agree.  For the traveling speed, fuel economy, AND short field performance the CT series is a really tough combo to beat.

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I agree. For the traveling speed, fuel economy, AND short field performance the CT series is a really tough combo to beat.

????????

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I agree.  For the traveling speed, fuel economy, AND short field performance the CT series is a really tough combo to beat.

As a brand new member to this forum, the above qualities is exactly what I'm looking for in a LSA. I want to be able to participate in some of the outings of the Back Country Pilots group in the Western States while still having a fast (by LSA standards) plane that is almost as fuel efficient at cruise as a Pipistrel. The CT is much more popular in the States, so finding a nice used bird will be much easier than the Pipistrel. Not to mention it appears the dealer/service network is better established than the Pip.

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Hi Bob.  Welcome.  With a flap range of +40 degrees to -6 degrees on CTSW and +35/-6 on older CTLS, these CT's provide 120kt cruise and excellent low speed short field landing performance.  Other LSA's offer one or the other but not both of these qualities.  In addition, older CTSW's allow a useful load that is a few pounds short of 600lbs.  With a full load of 32 gallons (fuel in the wings), one can continue to add 360 to 400 pounds of passengers and gear. Even the slightly heavier and longer CTLS with full glass panel is capable of a 500lb useful.  I am not aware of any other LSA's that offer the load carrying capacity of the CTSW with 32 gallons of fuel.  If you have not taken a ride in a CT, I would hope that you will find an owner or distributor in your area and take a ride.  I think you'll be impressed with the CT's capabilities.

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Hi Bob.  Welcome.  With a flap range of +40 degrees to -6 degrees on CTSW and +35/-6 on older CTLS, these CT's provide 120kt cruise and excellent low speed short field landing performance.  Other LSA's offer one or the other but not both of these qualities.  In addition, older CTSW's allow a useful load that is a few pounds short of 600lbs.  With a full load of 32 gallons (fuel in the wings), one can continue to add 360 to 400 pounds of passengers and gear. Even the slightly heavier and longer CTLS with full glass panel is capable of a 500lb useful.  I am not aware of any other LSA's that offer the load carrying capacity of the CTSW with 32 gallons of fuel.  If you have not taken a ride in a CT, I would hope that you will find an owner or distributor in your area and take a ride.  I think you'll be impressed with the CT's capabilities.

 

Thanks for the reply. I just found (and revived) a thread by Bob Deurloo about flying the CT into the Idaho back country. Impressive piloting skills considering how slippery the CT is, and answers my other question as to if the CT can be used for some back country flying. I know there is an option for tundra tires and wheel pants, so after a lot of Internet only research I believe I've narrowed down the field for my mission. Besides the CT is well represented here in the States, with a large and social following. I hope Page, Arizona is a recurring gathering, it sure sounds like all that have participated had a great time over the years.

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Even with tundra tires, a CT is not a rough field airplane. If there is a decent runway, whether grass, dirt, or pavement, the CT can usually land there. If there is broken ground, large or loose gravel, gopher holes, tall grass, or other challenges, something with bigger tires and more prop clearance like a Highlander is a safer choice.

 

That said I have not yet found a runway I was really interested in landing on that I couldn't get into. Just have realistic limits and stick to them.

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Andy,

 

  I've read and enjoyed your posts and respect your opinion. While my principal mission will be cross country and the CT excels in that arena, I do want to enjoy the occasional camp out with the Back Country gang at Johnson Creek, Idaho 3U2 and the High Sierra Fly-In, which has a LZ on a dry lake bed. So no Steve Henry type of flying. Speaking of Steve.......

 

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Bob,

CTs can land and takeoff on a pretty short field... but it needs to be a smooth field.

The STOL in the video has a 25% slower stall speed than us. That's a lot when you consider that the energy (damage and injury) goes up as a square of speed. He has less than 2/3 the energy to absorb with braking after touchdown.

But just as important is his tail wheel. Our nose gear is great in a crosswind but if we hit something that that's even close to half its diameter - a rock, or divot, or even a stiff bush - the game is over. The nose won't roll over it. Instead the nose gear will snap off and the plane will flip over on its back. Lots of CT's have flipped over. It's our most common accident. Fortunately the pilot and passenger aren't injured (unless they release their seat belt before bracing themselves) but the plane is in a heap of hurt. I think you can expect to lose the prop, the engine, the windscreen and a good part of the vertical if not the whole tail.

Even the 4.00-6 tundra nose gear (assuming you have the big front fork it fits in) is not all that big.

A 172 with the same size tires as our tundra tires is better off on a rough field because he can hold the nose off a lot longer than I can. I don't have the elevator authority at low speed to hold the nose off at all.

In the video the Super STOL pilot mentions that he broke a tail wheel. No big deal for him. If he catches the tail wheel on something it can't roll over it breaks or rips off. He scrapes his tail and that's the extent of his damage.

The CT is a great airplane but off-field landings are not its forte. We need paved runways, or smooth dirt or grass strips.

Mike Koerner

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