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No Tail Draggers

Ed Cesnalis

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Coming in piping hot In the early afternoon on Saturday, July 1, a Piper 22-150 single engine propeller plane crashed at Mammoth Yosemite Airport. There were two passengers and a pilot on board the aircraft at the time of the incident, but no injuries were sustained by anyone involved. According to Hannah DeGoey of the Mammoth Lakes Police Department, the trouble began when a strong crosswind blew across the runway from the west, causing the aircraft to lurch to the right (the east) just as it was touching down at the south end of runway 2-7. It is believed that this sudden lurching, in combination with the strong wind, snapped the plane’s right-side landing gear off. The tips of the plane’s propeller were also damaged when it hit the ground. The plane then veered to the west side of the runway and came to a stop facing north.

The reporting gets every reverence to direction and the runway wrong and it reads funny but the story here is another landing issue where the pilot lacked the skills to land with even a low level of sheer.  I was flying at the time and for me it was a 30* flap day and a day for landing on the upwind wheel first.

I land slow on the numbers and can stop and exit in the same relative conditions that I touch down in.  If I react with a fast landing I will rollout past the 1st turnoff and get into the zone where the shear is most troublesome and the rollout becomes the problematic part of my landing.  Perfect example of slow working in wind shear as opposed to fast getting me into trouble in the rollout after both mains are on.

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The reporting by the pilot and by the paper blamed the gust. They report the gust caused a sideways lurching as the plane was touching down.

He side loaded his downwind gear and snapped it off.  Shouldn't the report and the pilot mention that he landed on the wrong wheel?  

Landing slow with good technique means no issue.  Poor technique side loaded the wrong gear and fast landing provided the energy to snap it right off.

Relying on speed for crisp control response was of no benefit.

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My next bird will have the 3rd wheel in the back. Can't beat them off airport. I've taken mind into some fairly rough ridge tops, fields, etc. and thankfully it's held up with the custom fork and gear extensions / big tire setup I built. Mostly it's due to Randy designing a tough plane with a solid nose wheel design. But either way it's harder on it than a tailwheel. We also get horrendous wind here in CO near the rockies, so one has to make peace with the possibility there will be a few days a guy will want/have to sit out. I mean you can land in 50-100ft if you have some wind so setting it down across my runway isn't out of the question, but you still have to taxi in that crap!

I see it as they are capable of 'more' (more-rougher surfaces, so more LZ's, more speed, more torn up gear and wings etc.! :o)

But it really depends on the plane too. Something you can touch down slow in allows more option for landing into the wind.

Then again my buddies helio courier is a real handful in fairly mild cross winds (~15mph direct). It touches down slow, but the mains are in front of the firewall! You can slide the wheels on pavement without it nosing over, but there is a lot of weight behind the wheels and ground looping comes easy. Plus you can't see anything out of it on 26's

Does sound more like a technique issue and not so much of a lack of rudder authority issue in the x-wind though. Bummer :(

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