Capt.doug 2009-12-27 19:54:13
It was a beautiful day in land that Mickey built- 76 degrees with full sun
while the northern folks got their first freezing blast of winter. We headed
off-shore over the islands of the Caribbean. I was on the second radio
talking to old friends and catching up on news from all the islands that I
don’t get to visit much anymore. Caught up with some old friends on the
air-to-air frequencies as well. The flight levels were smooth and the
visibilty was excellent.
Then it came time for top of descent. This time was going to be sweet. There
was no complicated arrival procedure and there was no traffic in front of
us. We were number one. The center controller cleared us to decend from
FL330 to 11,000′ at pilot’s discretion.
One of the keys to good fuel economy in a jet is to stay high as long as you
can and then descend at idle thrust. I looked at our weight, and tailwind.
As I slowly pulled the throttles back to idle, the nose slowly dropped to
maintain airspeed. I switched from Mach airspeed to indicated airspeed
around FL240. I monitored the DME’s ratio to the altimeter. It was holding
constant. I leveled off at 11,000′ and let the airspeed bleed off to 250
KIAS. We switched to the approach controller who cleared us down to 3000′
and direct to the outer marker. The power was still at idle, the speedbreaks
were still stowed, and the approach was looking good.
I called the field in sight from 20 miles out and was cleared for the
visual. I pulled the nose up slightly to bleed the speed down to 200 KIAS
for the airport traffic area. At 1500′ the slats and flaps were extended.
Then the gear and the rest of the flaps. The old-timers taught me to carry
an extra 20 knots into the flare when doing an idle-thrust landing. That
prevents you from developing an excessive sink-rate which prevents the gear
from going through the wing.
I bled off the extra airspeed and more in the flare. The touchdown was
sweet. There was just a hint of a bunny-hop before the ground-spoilers
popped, but the runway is so bumpy that the passengers probably didn’t
notice. Without moving the throttles from idle, I popped the reversers and
let it roll to the end of the runway. We rolled onto the taxiway without
using the brakes. It was a perfect idle-thrust approach from top-of-descent
to the gate.
I spent the rest of the day sitting with my crew at a bar on the beach
enjoying the little things in life. Over the bar was a television. The folks
on the television were surrounded by snow. I bet their day wasn’t near as
perfect as mine.
Bushy 2009-12-27 19:54:46
I dragged myself out of bed after hitting snooze a few times, crawled into
the shower, and sat back in the bath as the shower slowly filled the tub and
gradually recovered. Washed the sleep out of my eyes and after pulling the
plug, blew out all those nasties I didn’t want to take flying!
Noticing all the dew on the grass, I did a fifteen point turn to get around
the b***** truck with the flat batteries that I’d left behind my second (but
working!) car. Would have been easier if my broken drott wasn’t in the
b***** road as well in the shed!
Anyhow I cruised down the road feeling every bump due to the stuffed rear
shockies, thinking that this is pretty good turbulence! And it felt like a
good tailwind while cruising the dirt stretch at a speed that was more like
a touchdown than how you should drive a car. Maybe I should start to steer
with my feet and see how well I go down a dirt road! Unlocked the gate to
the field and yelled to my instructor to get out of bed and chatted to his
wife watering the garden.
Unlock, and drag the Gemini Thruster T500 out of the shed, a quick check of
fuel and a bit of a look around the bird to make sure the mice haven’t given
birth yet! Jump in and do the first check, and taxi out though the trees,
across the bridge and up the end of the strip, turn round and stop to do a
couple of checks. Fire up and do the worst run down the strip with the tail
up I have ever done! Speed all over the place and my b** up in the air and
falling down again as I tried to keep it all together!
Ten minutes later and a few more runs up and down it’s all back together and
then we go for a few balloon rides as I struggle with a few strip hops, but
at least the rudder is finally coming naturally without having to think
about it! Then off for a couple of circuits to fly down the strip at ten
feet, which is where I found the bunny that was so sweet for you!!!!!
Third P circuit (the beauty of having your own strip is doing P turns at 200
feet over the trees and coming back on short final through them!) and the
wind gusts up so wildly that the cranky old b***** in the right hand seat
takes over and we do a couple of turns watching the sock and came in on the
200 foot cross strip and run round the corner onto the main strip
intentionally on one wheel. The years of experience in this old bush pilot
is a joy to learn from!
Taking advantage of the gusting cross to head to tailwinds, we did another
half an hour of running up and down the strip, with each one feeling more
and more natural. I reckon I can pin the speed right on the numbers, dance
on the pedals without the pushbike and feel every change in airspeed through
the seat of my pants now!
I’ve had a couple of cuppa’s with him and his wife, checked my engineering
work on my new home made tailwheel to replace the shopping trolley wheel
that is on my little toy (Hovey Delta Bird ultralight biplane with a 503),
helped shift a couple of trailer loads of rocks into the washed out drain on
the side of his strip, and done a little bit of irrigation parts shopping in
town on my way home and I’m about to wander out the back yard and spray a
few weeds on my runway to be.
The spring sun is shining over the freshly watered bush and it’s green as
far as the eye can see up in my little valley. My day’s been pretty good
too! Might even go for a couple more really good days over the weekend!
All the best,
Don hammer 2010-01-04 07:37:28
Twenty five years or so ago I used to fly with a guy in a G-II that
did that with every decent unless ATC screwed him up. He certainly
knew energy management.
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Carl j. hixon 2010-01-04 07:37:39
It was the Sunday after Thanksgiving about 8-9 years ago. I had flown from
San Diego to Clovis, NM for Turkey Day with my Sister’s family. [For this
trip I did a couple hours checkout in a Piper Archer. Before that, the only
plane I had ever flown was a Citabria. My former instructor, now friend,
gave me the get-home-itis speech again and pointed out that I will probably
learn more on this flight than in all of my previous training. I scoffed
We arrived at Clovis Muni early. I didn’t bother filing a flight plan. The
weather didn’t sound great but didn’t sound that bad either. I figured I’d
file after I took off. Heck, I was going to have a lot of time. I knew
that they were predicting severe winds for Monday when I left San Diego days
earlier…good thing it’s Sunday. Packed in the wife, and departed Clovis.
After getting some altitude I started to file a VFR flight plan. The
response I got back in my headset was something like, “…Your flying where
in a what?! We have severe turbulence being reported by Heavy Aircraft…”
request.” Then encouragement…”Well, if you are staying that far South,
all of the severe turbulence is being reported North of your course. You’d
probably be fine.” Me, “Okay.” So I filed my route and flew happily off
Now regarding flight planning. Lets see, I need 30 minutes reserve for this
daylight flight. This Archer can go how far? …so that means that I can
make it to Show Low for fuel.
Okay, so I’m flying with my wife across NM. It has been a *VERY* bumpy ride
pretty much the whole way! Dutifully, I am checking of my ground land marks
every 20ish NM and comparing times with my flight plan. +5 min, +10 min
+20min +30min. Hmmm…things don’t seem to be going according to plan and
well, there goes my 30 minute reserve. [I’m not looking at my old chart
right now so the numbers here aren’t accurate but the message is clear,
never mind that there were airports I didn’t seem to notice on the chart] I
had better stop somewhere for fuel. Let me see…Alamo Navajo (3N9) is the
closest airport about 60NM behind me. Oh, look Show Low is only about 61NM
in front of me.
this weather, best to turn back and get fuel. I wonder how the heck I’m
going to get fuel at Alamo Navajo? Well, best to land on a runway with
power and worry about fuel later. 180 backtrack. So now I am circling over
Alamo Navajo, except I don’t see a runway. 2 or 3 more circles, I still
don’t see it…now WHAT? Socorro is only about 17 miles away. Both tanks
are empty…..it is now or never.
sudden? …fuel selector switch…fuel pump….pray pray pray….Okay, if
it stops again we are landing somewhere….
singing….there it is!!!!
Now here is the perfect approach…this will be a straight in approach from
11,500 feet. Nose down pointed at the centerline…cross the numbers near
Vne. Half way down the runway…still well…not even close….go around.
Deep breath. Found my head and flew a nice pattern to a landing following
This is only about 20% of the story and I’ve only shared about 1/3 of the
stupid mistakes I made on this flight as a young pilot. When I got home I
bought my old instructor lunch, told him that he was right, and discussed
every lesson that he taught me that I apparently felt was okay to toss out
the window on this flight.
I learned a lot from that flight….
Rich s. 2010-01-04 07:37:51
It was just over 27 years ago – November 9, 1977 to be precise. And I was
feeling precise! I had a brand-new instrument ticket in my pocket, not 24
hours old. Hot S***, I was.
My buddy had the use of a well-equipped 250 Comanche. Full stack of radios,
ILS, ADF, MB – all the bells and whistles of the day except for DME. We were
sitting in the hangar at Renton airport and he wanted to hop over to
Boeing’s to see a guy. Ceilings were right down on the deck, so he figured
we’d just drive over.
“No way!”, I sez. “We’ll just file IFR and run over in the Comanche.”
Shouldn’t take more than twice the time as driving. So we hauls the bird out
of the hangar and go through all the obligatory drill to get it in the air.
This’ll be my first *actual* IFR approach!
We headed South out of Renton and Seattle Approach is just going to vector
us across Seatac, up the Sound and a 180 to the BFI localizer. Piece of
cake. As we come across the outer marker, we’re solid IFR, although it’s
nice and smooth. Doesn’t even look like we’re moving. I pull the power back
for descent and, as we cross the glideslope, I call for my pal to drop the
gear to keep us “on the beam”. He kind of shrieks at me, “You can’t land
here! You’re at 2200 feet!” I look over at him and he’s got a drop of sweat
on the tip of his nose. Hmmm…
I drop the wheels while trying to explain to him that the drag will give us
just the right rate of descent to stay on the glideslope. I don’t think he’s
buying it. About that time I realize the MM light is flashing and I haven’t
called the tower to report outer marker inbound. Somewhat embarassed, I key
up my stopwatch and call in. Hmmm.. they don’t answer. Oops, I drop the
watch and pick up the mike. “THERE you are!”, sez the tower with a little
I know we should be crossing Spokane street and we’re down to 400′ or so.
Should see the lights by now. DH is 213′. I keep the plate handy in case we
have to go around. Never done that for real. My partner is really getting
fidgety. Maybe I should give him somthing to do. “Hey, Karl. Keep your eyes
peeled for the approach strobes up ahead. I’ll stay on the gauges, OK?” If
eyes could bore holes through the clouds, Karl’s would have done it then.
Everything is going fine except we’re running out of altitude and it’s still
as thick as grey cotton out there. Suddenly Karl screams (He should do
something about that yelling), “I see the strobes!”. A glance down and I can
see the old Georgetown City Hall pass under the wing. Right on target! The
clouds thin out ahead and there’s runway 13R – 10,000′ of nice, wide
We touch down and taxi over to the terminal. I reach up to shut things down
when I notice that they are doing so all by themselves. The rotating beacon
slows, grows dim and then goes out. One by one, the radios turn themselves
off. The nav lights and the panel lights slowly fade to nothing. The only
thing left running is the engine, slowly ticking over. I pull the mixture
out and the plane is silent, the exhaust ticking slightly as it cools.
We leave and go in search of a new battery. Sure glad the alternator didn’t
decide to pack up too.
Ultrajohn 2010-01-04 07:37:54
there are a lot of low time pilots (me included) that can stand to have the
reinforcement of others mistakes. Thanks John
Blueskies 2010-01-04 07:38:38
Sounds a little like a Bob Hoover routine…thanks for sharing!
What kind of plane?
Morgans 2010-01-04 07:38:58
Com’on now, Blueskies, if you are going to top post, at least do some
Jim in NC
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Rst engineerin 2010-01-04 07:39:04
You oughta know by now that nobody in this whole $%^%$#$% newsgroup has ever
HEARD the word “trim”, much less know how to use it.
Jerry springer 2010-01-04 07:39:06
Or of “top posting”. 🙂
Ron wanttaja 2010-01-04 07:39:11
Hay-El, some of us don’t even have trim on our *airplanes*, ‘cept the bent-up
Bud can tacked onto the tail feathers…. 🙂
Ron “Not very trim” Wanttaja
Rich s. 2010-01-04 07:39:14
Some of us are so un-trim we get stuck in our cockpits and have to call a
cherry picker to lift us out.
Rich “Among the least-trim” S.
John ammeter 2010-01-04 07:39:16
Is that why you keep the engine hoist in your hangar??
Rich s. 2010-01-04 07:39:19
Avoiding the question altogether, at one time I had a flight instructing
“business” set up which put my Ercoupe in the deductible category for IRS
purposes. Being a two-control airplane, it was ideal for teaching paraplegic
students (really!). I arranged for the adjacent maintenance business to
supply a hoist to place such students in the airplane. A short length of
broomstick to press the single brake pedal completed the arrangements.
Unfortunately, I was unable to attract any such challenged students and my
business lost money for four or five years before it folded. Hey – I tried.
Blueskies 2010-01-04 07:39:22
I guess y’all don’t know what OT means either…
Ron wanttaja 2010-01-04 07:39:26
*Tell* me about it…
B2431 2010-01-04 07:39:42
Ya mean like that? 🙂
Dan, U.S. Air Force, retired
Capt.doug 2010-01-04 07:39:54
Barnyard bob - 2010-01-04 07:40:17
Petulent Pampered Puss.
Capt.doug 2010-01-04 07:40:52
Yeah, I could have made more doing cropdusting, but cropdusting is too
Bob korves 2010-01-29 11:06:32
No problem. We do it all the time in sailplanes. Flying out of Truckee,
California we will typically start our final glide home from 60+ miles out
and 17,900 msl and cross rocks, trees, and Lake Tahoe, then some more rocks
and trees (no landing options at all in the last 20+ miles) and arrive at
pattern altitude, 7,000 msl. No throttles to bump forward if we guess
wrong, either. 😉
Qdurham 2010-01-29 11:06:35
Damme, good all over you! Perhaps not so interesting as a two-hour (utterly
safe and illegal) IFR flight in a Cessna 140 w/exactly one needle and one ball
— or being arrested by an Arizona highway patrolman in Arizona (long story)
while flying that same Cessna, but close enough.
Your glider stuff requires skill and judgement. The Cessna stuff only requires
a certain disrepect for dumb laws.
Bob korves 2010-01-29 11:06:37
I used to fly a Cessna 140, and I understand perfectly. It sort of brings
it out in a person, doesn’t it?
Qdurham 2010-01-29 11:06:40
out in a person, doesn’t it?
Oh indeed! Heading north out of Amarillo(?), full moon, Christmas eve,
admiring the L-shaped warm cabin when suddenly the cabin lights up to the point
where could read a newspaper. OK — good news bad news:
1. Gee! Isn’t that beautiful!
2. S***! What’s on fire?
3. Geeze! We are flying north and have just crossed over the east-west snow
4. Ahh! Isn’t that nice!
5. Jeeze! Have they scraped the snow of the runway at the airport to which we
are hopefully pointed?
6. What’s the goddam frequency?
8. Blah tower, cessna blah blah…
9. “Cessna blah blah, runway blah is OK. Cleared for straight in. Report long
10. “Cessna Blah blah “OK”.
11. By golly no snow on runway.
12. By golly snow about 8 inches deep on taxiway. Hmmm. Axles only about 7
inches above runway.
Made it OK. Airport manager (smelling distibctly of Christmas cheer) arrived,
assessed the situation, told us we’d have to get into a (1940 era) hangar as
they had inadvertantly removed all the tie-down ropes in the process of snow
removal. “Costs $5 a night” “Well…. We’ll go for it.” He pushes the
3-story high antique hangar doors open with his Ford’s front bumper, drives us
to nearest motel and debates with owner who is going to drive us to nearest
restaurant. Airport manager wins, but suggests he wait while my wife changes
out of slacks into a dress. “More proper, you know.”
Good food, good motel. Good God, THAT’S flying!
John ousterhou 2010-01-29 11:09:14
Good story Cap. I love it when I reduce power on downwind – in a
C-172 – and don’t have to touch it again until I need to taxi to the
ramp. I still need some practice to do the Bob Hoover thing and coast
right to the parking spot.
On Fri, 26 Nov 2004 02:17:27 GMT, “Capt.Doug”
Ultrajohn 2010-01-29 11:09:26
ps my moniker is not a vain thought of myself, it’s from running a bunch of
“Ultra” races ie races longer than a standard 26.2 mile marathon. I’ve run
about 95 of them in the last 20 years.