It is time to revisit (discuss) the Best wheel landing technique. I presented this years ago in one of the club News letters and still receive many emails and phone calls how how well and easy this technique has helped.
I have been reading pilots explanations and comments on how to wheel land and what to do and not to do in various situations. Although most have some good points, overall they are not the best way to wheel land. This again points out that many of us learned from instructors that had their own methods and ideas on wheel and 3 point landings.
There has never been any standardization. Basically, fly final at a given airspeed and as you approach the threshold ease back on the power and the yoke holding it just off the runway until it stalls, anticipating about when it will settle on the runway, working the rudder to keep it straight, but if you bounce it you have another decision to make, to add power or not, and how much. If its really blowing, use 20 deg flaps and fly it on with a wheel landing at a higher speed, but you’ll need more room. Any of that sound familiar?
For the Cessna 180/185 aircraft (and many other aircraft types), there IS ONE WHEEL LANDING technique that will consistently handle most landings, from no wind to pretty strong cross winds, and can consistently stop in 300′ – 500′ or less, depending on gross weight and other factors. It’s more consistent, safer, gives better vision, better control and is MORE PREDICTABLE than the Full Stall 3-point technique. As an AVIATION INSURANCE SPECIALIST, that owns a C-185 (we still insure over 600 (180/185’s nationally), and flown and camped the Idaho Backcountry, seeing the same types of landing claims and ground loop accidents come across my desk every year, I personally wanted to find the best landing technique, and I did. I discovered this method years ago when I took lessons from the MAF (Missionary Aviators Fellowship) instructors as a starting point. At that time they had over 40 C180/185’s flying world wide. They were flying hundreds of hours more each year than we do, and in consistently more difficult Jungle and mountain strips, and still had a much lower accident ratio than we do in the United States. They must be doing something right.
With this technique, generally with no wind, low wind and low x-winds, I use a powered approach, come over the fence at 55 – 60 Kts with 30 – 40 deg Flap, and turn off the runway in 300′ – 500′. With strong x-winds I still use 20 – 30 deg flaps and at 60 – 65 Kts depending on some factors which I’ll discuss later. I still normally only roll out 500′ – 800′. STOL Kits and VG’s give you even more room to work with, however there is a point in gusty x-winds, where that wind is going to give you fits. One of my earlier C185’s was a 1972 C185 with a full Robertson STOL Kit, a tremendous short field performer, but limited x-wind attributes.
My current C185 has a stock wing, no mods and I have flown it hundreds of hours into many Idaho airstrips, including Soldier Bar,Cabin Creek, Lower Loon, Dixie Town, Thomas Creek, Bernard, Krassel, Root Ranch, and White Water Ranch to mention a few using this wheel landing technique. It works like clockwork. It’s not just about the touchdown, but the set up and the approach are key factors to making this and any technique work. this uses a very specific approach technique.
To fly into short tight and mountain airstrips, you should be able to fly within a couple wingspans of a mountain, be able to hold final approach airspeeds within 1 or 2 knots, and be able to touch down on a predetermined spot without floating or dragging it in, regardless of how you land. You can’t just be along for the ride. You have to be in total control from down wind until you exit or are stopped on the runway, so you need the best technique.
The next Blog will break down this technique, step by step, from down wind, final approach, to touchdown.
Bill White Insurance — Aviation Specialists since 1977