Getting the Hang of Flying in Ground Effect

We ran over to Morristown today and practiced soft-field landing.

Highlight:

  • Maneuver under ground effect was hard, pitch attitude and power coordination remains a challenge.

There were some cross-wind, but the visibility was good. I again had a fouling magneto, so we wasted some time clean it up while holding short on runway 23. Before take-off, I lowered flaps to 10 degrees so that I can practice soft-field take off. I held back pressure and lifted off at designated speed, while pushing down the nose, I accelerated underground effect. However, nose came up shortly as we flew down the runway. I pushed the yoke again right before we almost climbed out of ground-effect. I think next time we will trim a little down so that I will be able to hold the attitude easier.

After called Morristiown tower, I was expecting to fly straight in to runway 23. But they gave me an instruction to fly left downwind for runway 23 and report midfield. I did not fully pick up the instruction but with Bob’s help I understood that they want us to fly further upwind to space out traffic. The first landing was mediocre as I did not correct enough for the cross wind. 

After landing to the right of center line, I told myself that the next time I will try to land to the left of the center line. To do that, obviously I need a little more bank correction and with that, I actually almost kept center line. By the way, the final landing we did at Caldwell I kept center line well. I think it’s because it’s a narrower runway so I was forced to stay more vigilant.

More about ground effect maneuvers. As we came down to land, we had to pull back and add power. This was intentionally fly on the back side of power curve. I had a few good landings, but a some times I touched the ground before intended threshold. I was more hesitate to add more power, because I was afraid that we would climb out ground effect, then result in a hard landing. There were other times I felt aileron and rudder input was necessary so that I can make those changes close to ground to correct my attitude for crosswind landing.

Given that I have lot of good practices already, I will try to emphasis on these landing tips, and focus on flying the airplane next time.