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Thread: Landout discussion

  1. #1
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    Landout discussion

    Posted by Peter Kelly 5/24/2015 on the Thermaling thread:

    “I add this as my comment to your fine report. Although you may have lots of experience in this area, and I don't have anything to offer per se, but now that you have seemingly found "the keys to the kingdom", if you were to lead a discussion of effective land out techniques, that would seem to be the next logical and helpful step for this audience. Just a thought.”

    Here is my attempt to keep the discussion going. Thanks to Peter for steering the discussion in this direction!

    I now have one season including 31 flights in an ASW 24 under my belt without getting out of gliding range of Williams, but I want to actually start flying X-Country hence my renewed interest in effective landout techniques and strategies etc. I would appreciate some discussion and advise on this subject from the more experienced pilots or CFIGs in this region.

    The following topics come to mind but please post anything concerning effective landout techniques:

    - Descriptions of your landouts with all the details including lessons learned.

    - Are there any problems with planning to always be within safe gliding range of an airport/landing strip and NOT a farm field.

    - Where are tow planes in Northern California that might provide Aerotow to a landout far from WSC?

    - What items should be carried in the sailplane in case of landout?

    For those airports/landing strips between here and Montague:

    - Adequate for aero-retrieve?
    - Safe for landing but a ground retrieve would be best?
    - Unsafe for a glider landing and should be avoided?

  2. #2
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    Re: Landout discussion

    Russ,

    You've listed "topics" but we know that some of these topics have proven to be good Chapter Titles of maybe even book titles.
    Your opening to this discussion may be a bit too broad for this audience or at least this venue. December is the right month to start a good thread. I encourage you to narrow the subject and focus the discussion - that's my suggestion. Alternatively, you could use a different approach.

    An effective approach to learning how to do complex things like cross-country in gliders is learning what not to do.
    We can learn what not to do by reviewing some of the many examples that are available. There have been many gliders that have not landed at airports.
    The important caveat is that the discussion leader (that's you Russ) needs to encourage pilots to write in a non-judgmental manner. Comments and reviews need to have zero ego-centered comments. Tell the writers to leave their bias and personal, emotionally based opinions to themselves. We are looking for facts, or supposed facts. Factors bearing on the accident. Factors that many of us have experienced or have been taught to react to in a different manner, or we have avoided because we were just lucky when we were faced with a similar set of circumstances.

    I can think of about 5 or ten incidents pretty quickly:

    1. An ASW27 landed in a big open cultivated area some 10 miles west of WSC about 8 years ago. IMO (in my opinion) the ship would have sustained very little damage if the pilot had set up a pattern at 8 or 9 hundred feet above the ground, and just landed straight ahead in almost any of the fields.

    2. About 15 years ago a pegasus was coming back from St John and headed for WSC, rather than land at Cooks the pilot tried to make it home. He avoided a crash by landing in a muddy rice field, less than 200 yards from the runway, but that could have been avoided if he just landed at Cooks. Beware of increased headwind on final glide - even final glides that are only 5 miles long!

    3. A very inexperienced pilot found himself over a small ridge with a large pasture adjacent to it (this was near Vacaville in the 1980's). He tried for maybe an hour (late in the day) trying to find a thermal that would take him up and away from the ridge. The glider would have sustained minor damage, if any, if he just decided to put it on the ground in the adjacent pasture. He had the skill to do that. We need to consider the time of day and how much lift is still available to us.

    4 and 5. There have been several gliders messed up in the small valleys, including bear valley in the area west of Three sisters, some 10 to 20 miles west of WSC.
    Details are worth reviewing on each incident.

    6. Just a few weeks ago an experienced pilot landed at Cooks on a nearly straight in approach. Of course there are many optional field to land in on such an approach, but this pilot had the skills to accomplish a good landing. The incident probably could have been avoided if the pilot had not lost quite as much altitude prior to heading for home. Some days the lift is located in only select places, and a very complex final glide needs to be calculated before getting out if range of the lift. Most of us would never even attempt such a feat.

    The list is endless - or nearly endless. There are many unreported, and many close calls.

    If people share their opinions ( in a non-judgmental manner) of what they think happened in various incidents and talk about how the incident could have been avoided (in their humble opinion), this might be helpful.

    Of course, suggestions such as "stay higher" and "don't get low" are worthless in most post accident reviews. The teaching and learning might best be achieved if experienced pilots could back up the time line on each accident and say... this is the point I would have done xyz...

    Let's face it sometimes the lift just seems to quit. But we must quickly admit than some pilots rarely seem to have the lift "just quit". Those super good pilots are more than lucky. They are exercising good judgment throughout the flight. If you can't reliably predict the lift, you need to remain within glide distance of a place to put it on the ground where you can make a good landing - defined by either:
    - one you can walk away from or if you your using higher standards,
    - one that does not require major maintenance before the next flight.

    We had accident reviews at PASCO seminars in years past. It was done very well and was very educational. I always enjoyed those reviews.
    Soaring Mag used to review many accidents in depth, but sometimes controversial assumptions were made in the reports or by others about the true "facts" of a given incident. Lots of egos and emotions were involved with those reports.

    It will prove to be tough for most any pilot to remain objective when discussing glider accidents, but this is a good venue for such discussion. Good luck on your moderation Russ.
    Peter Kelly

  3. #3
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    Re: Landout discussion

    Peter, thanks for your response and I apologize for my crude trimming of your post to ask a few more questions without re-posting your entire response.

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Kelly View Post
    Russ,

    An effective approach to learning how to do complex things like cross-country in gliders is learning what not to do.
    We can learn what not to do by reviewing some of the many examples that are available. There have been many gliders that have not landed at airports.
    The important caveat is that the discussion leader (that's you Russ) needs to encourage pilots to write in a non-judgmental manner. Comments and reviews need to have zero ego-centered comments. Tell the writers to leave their bias and personal, emotionally based opinions to themselves. We are looking for facts, or supposed facts. Factors bearing on the accident. Factors that many of us have experienced or have been taught to react to in a different manner, or we have avoided because we were just lucky when we were faced with a similar set of circumstances.

    I can think of about 5 or ten incidents pretty quickly:

    4 and 5. There have been several gliders messed up in the small valleys, including bear valley in the area west of Three sisters, some 10 to 20 miles west of WSC.
    Details are worth reviewing on each incident.
    How can we learn the details of these and other similar incidents?

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Kelly View Post
    6. Just a few weeks ago an experienced pilot landed at Cooks on a nearly straight in approach. Of course there are many optional field to land in on such an approach, but this pilot had the skills to accomplish a good landing. The incident probably could have been avoided if the pilot had not lost quite as much altitude prior to heading for home. Some days the lift is located in only select places, and a very complex final glide needs to be calculated before getting out if range of the lift. Most of us would never even attempt such a feat.
    In late October this year I reported that Cooks had many large hay bales covering the north 1/3 of the landing area. Perhaps the reduced length and/or landing over an obstacle were factors?

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Kelly View Post
    The list is endless - or nearly endless. There are many unreported, and many close calls.

    If people share their opinions ( in a non-judgmental manner) of what they think happened in various incidents and talk about how the incident could have been avoided (in their humble opinion), this might be helpful.

    It will prove to be tough for most any pilot to remain objective when discussing glider accidents, but this is a good venue for such discussion. Good luck on your moderation Russ.
    Peter, thanks for the suggestions and guidance. You have a much better grasp of how to approach the complex subject of cross country in gliders, so please enlighten those of us who know barley enough to ask poor questions!

  4. #4
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    Re: Landout discussion

    - Are there any problems with planning to always be within safe gliding range of an airport/landing strip and NOT a farm field.

    Yes. There is a bit of a psychological trap here. You can see in some of the posted stories, and many more you will hear, things that go wrong from unwillingness to accept a farm field landing, and trying to stretch to airports instead. Planning to be within range of an airport/strip, fine. Excess fear of a field landing, to the point that you don't calmly execute it when the time comes, bad. If you go xc, sooner or later wild sink or something else will happen, and you will be faced with landing in a field. You have to be ready and open to that fact.

    The big thing that goes wrong in most crashes I have seen (I review a lot of logs) is low-altitude maneuvering, usually thermalling attempts. If you do a big pattern with a nice long final, it is almost guaranteed to go well. If you thermal at 500 feet, or keep plugging along hoping to stretch to an airport till down to 500 feet; then slapdash try to wing it in to a field, too high, too fast, or too low too slow, and always too close, it will end badly.

    Also, don't assume that strips are landable! Very few small fields are economically viable to farm. Hence, farm fields are bigger than airports.

    The worst possible field retrieve of an undamaged glider takes a few days. Even landing gear door damage takes longer than that.

    John Cochrane

  5. #5
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    Re: Landout discussion

    Thanks to John and Peter for responding to my original post on this thread. Thanks also to Jim Darke who started another thread that helped with information on landing strips in our area from a low level fly-by.

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Kelly View Post
    Russ,
    You've listed "topics" but we know that some of these topics have proven to be good Chapter Titles of maybe even book titles.
    Your opening to this discussion may be a bit too broad for this audience or at least this venue. December is the right month to start a good thread. I encourage you to narrow the subject and focus the discussion - that's my suggestion. Alternatively, you could use a different approach.
    I was hoping for discussion on all of the topics in my original post, but perhaps Peter is correct and I should limit the scope of this thread. Here is a more limited request for information.

    Please describe your landout with as many details as you are willing to share. Links to other posts describing handouts are welcome.

  6. #6
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    Re: Landout discussion

    Please describe your landout with as many details as you are willing to share. Links to other posts describing handouts are welcome.[/QUOTE]

    OK, here's the story about my first landout on 10 August 2013. Tow to Walker in OJ, which was my 6th trip there. Released at 6500 ft. There was one Cu, but too far west for me. I was hitting sink and decided to return. Over 3-Sisters I was a few hundred ft "in the red" on the ClearNav, and radio-ed Williams that I was heading back and low. Flew back on a northerly course with the idea that I wanted to pass near Cooks on the way back. No lift at all on the way. When about 2 Miles due south of Cooks, I was at about 1500 ft altitude and radio-ed Williams that I was committing to Cooks. As soon as I had finished my message, 3W came on the radio, and advised that he was coming back from up north and low, and was also looking at Cooks. I went into the downwind leg at about 1300 ft, and while in the downwind leg, 3W radio-ed that he was going to make it back to Williams. I finished the pattern as planned, and touched down smoothly about one quarter in on the Cooks strip. At that exact moment I heard the dreaded screech of "gear up"!
    For the post mortem, I reviewed the trace of the flight with Ed. The main lesson was that I had been flying too fast on the way back and therefore lost more altitude than necessary. I was flying faster on purpose, because the vario showed me to be in sink for quite a while (most of the time between Walker and 3 Sisters), and I wanted to get out of it, but I now believe I overdid it. Pete Alexander pointed out to me later that the polar drops of quickly when going too fast. However, from memory, I did not think that I flew as fast as the trace indicated (?), and I believe that I did pay attention to the Cambridge.
    Other lessons learned: 1. I now have the checklist on my knee. 2. My previous releases over Walker were actually lower than this one, but lift must have been easier to find on those flights. As Drew pointed out to me, when in doubt, don't skimp on release altitude.
    Frans

  7. #7
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    Re: Landout discussion

    Ramy Yanetz landout Sunday 01-31-2016
    Quote Originally Posted by RamyYanetz View Post
    It was a great day as I expected but I probably flew a bit too aggressively for a winter day [IMG]file://localhost/Users/russellpillard/Library/Caches/TemporaryItems/msoclip/0/clip_image002.png[/IMG]
    I towed to Walker, went first to Goat south but clouds were not high enough over the terrain for comfort so went south to Travis. The run south was great with bases over 7K and occasionally 10 knoter. But also very strong sink occasionally. I only saw 15 knots tail wind going south so wasn't too concerned but soon after I turned around the nice Cloud street turned into OD and rain and almost put me down at Guinda but got a save from there back to 8000 feet but now I had to deal with 30-35 knots wind on the nose which drifted me some 10 miles back. I had final glide to Williams but the lower I got the stronger the wind got and even saw 40 knots wind briefly. Combined with the strong sink I quickly lost glide and the day was dying so did not get the last climb I needed. No much of wave since the wind was mostly NNW parallel to the terrain and the wind was weaker at altitude instead of stronger. By the time I was 20 miles from Williams I lost glide and thought that I will need to land in a muddy field since the Williams waypoint file does not show landable waypoints between Guinda and Williams. Thanks to Rex for the tip about Strains. I landed there with 30 knots wind, one of my windiest landing ever, but certainly beats landing in a muddy field.
    Strains is a great paved strip so I am puzzled why it is marked as non landable waypoint in the database. I suspect there are other landable strips which are marked as waypoints instead of landing strips. I hope this will be corrected.
    Many thanks to Nick for the ground retrieve.
    http://www.onlinecontest.org/olc-2.0...Id=-1690184117

    Wind on the runway was 20-30 knots when I landed, 20-30 degrees from the left. Strong enough that I had difficulties opening and keeping the canopy open to get out of the glider. Giving the 35-40 knots I saw on downwind there was at least 10 knots wind gradient. Due the trees at the north end and the huge tanks west of the middle of the runway I aimed at the south end of the runway, furthest from obstructions, with plenty of energy. I touched down at close to 80 knots with neutral flaps, so definitely rolled more than 20 feet. The final was very turbulent but not scary.
    I should emphasize again that strain is a paved, wide, long landing strip, not a field. It is better than many landing strips in the database, so there should be no reason to mark it as unlandable. I am glad Rex was on the radio and mentioned this strip otherwise I would have needed to land in a field. Many flight computers like mine will not show waypoints which do not have landing attribute, so even though it says E3 in the comments (good emergency landing), it is doing no good without the A or L attribute.

    Ramy

  8. #8
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    Re: Landout discussion

    Russ, thanks for posting the Ramy Report. I was in the process of doing the same. I will now tell my landout story, as it relates to the runway at Strain as well.

    One of my most recent land outs (well over a year ago) was in the Duo Discus and it was also at Strains. The wind was different and I landed to the south. I had somewhat similar circumstances (windy day, not enough altitude to get me home the last 8 miles).

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    My conditions were undoubtedly not as difficult as what Ramy was dealing with on his flight, but my base leg and final were in fact scary - I readily admit to it (although I did try to appear calm so as not to frighten the copilot into full cardiac arrest). We had been in wave at over 8500 ft over Capay Valley. I wasn't willing to commit to a possible landing in Capay Valley and thus I didn't push far enough to the west to get into good lift. I committed to working a rotor like thermal and climbed back up to 4500 ft east of Rumsey but couldn't seem to get much more, so I headed for WSC. We soon encountered sink and then didn't have enough altitude to make it home. I was fortunate to have a well qualified copilot aboard. Once below 3000 feet and well below final glide for a normal landing pattern at WSC I requested the copilot to look for and to describe any and every potential landing site as we descended. (BTW, you did a very nice job on that Thomas, thank you). I pushed towards home, but was not willing to go below normal pattern altitude (1000 ft) without committing to a landing. We overflew many landable cultivated fields, and it worked out OK. The pattern and landing were classic. Rather than having used good judgment some 30 minutes earlier in the flight, I now had to use my expert skill. We all know the saying:

    "Truly superior pilots are those who use their superior judgment to avoid those situations where they might have to use their superior skills."
    We landed uneventfully to the south. Within five minutes after landing, I knew I had tested the limits of my luck and probably my skill. The reason I say that is because I knew I did not have a Plan B once I was below 1,500 feet. That to me is the scary part of flying.

    Three short war stories, each with the requisite amount of BS and bragging, and in each instance I had a Plan B.

    1. Just lifted off the ground from El Toro Marine Base California to Hawaii in a loaded (max weight) 4 engine transport plane now flying at max power, with only 3 engines operating and now climbing at less than 150 fpm, 60 seconds after takeoff. I was the Aircraft Commander (PIC) and was on my first mission overseas, age about 26, crew of 6 others aboard. Scary? Not at the moment, but I had been well trained. I flew according to procedures (plan B) and didn't make any fatal errors.

    2. Enroute to home station after a 4 hour combat FAC mission. AK47 bullet shattered the window on the copilot side in my little Cessna. I wasn't bleeding. In fact, I wasn't even scratched, just frightened... momentarily. But that only lasted an instant, since I simply climbed higher and flew home uneventfully (plan B).

    3. Enroute from Tokyo to Midway Island at 27,000 ft in 4 engine transport plane. Engine failure occurs, aircraft descends (on its own), but we are able to maintain 18,000 feet so we continue to Guam on three engines (plan B)(the nearest runway - three hours away). Less than 30 minutes later another engine on that same side begins to come apart. That engine also shutdown . Now flying with two out on one side, Mayday repeated. We are able to maintain 3,000 feet OK. We continue on two engines (Plan C). Two + hours later a safe landing was accomplished at Anderson AFB. Scary? Not really. Not much you can do except execute Plan B each time. Yes, we were all wearing our life vests (plan D) the last couple of hours, but we were also eating our dinner and drinking coffee as we motored along.

    Always have a plan b. In the landing at Strains there was no plan b once I was below about 1500 feet. Yes, I could see the runway, and yes, it looked clear from as much as I could see of it as I approached it from the south-southeast, but I wasn't over it, visibility was poor due to haze and low sun angle. Tall trees were appearing to be getting taller by the minute, wind seemed to be increasing in 5 knot increments. I had plenty of speed and thus enough altitude, but I was well out of my comfort zone.

    I had posted my landout at Cooks a few years ago. The plan B there was the same as it had been for most of my other landout experiences. I still had a plan B (an alternate landing spot all the way down to about 500 feet). Above 500 feet, many obstacles to a safe landing are extremely difficult to see.
    Last edited by Peter Kelly; 02-02-2016 at 03:16 PM.
    Peter Kelly

  9. #9
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    Re: Landout discussion

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Kelly View Post
    I had posted my landout at Cooks a few years ago. The plan B there was the same as it had been for most of my other landout experiences. I still had a plan B (an alternate landing spot all the way down to about 500 feet). Above 500 feet, many obstacles to a safe landing are extremely difficult to see.
    This may not be that landout at Cooks, but here is Peter's report of his landout at Cooks 3/27/2015.

    https://www.williamssoaring.com/news/...ditions-Report

  10. #10
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    Re: Landout discussion

    OK. Here is my landout story. Being cartographically inclined, I’ll let the attached maps tell most of the story.

    Stupid things I did:
    1. Allowed a USFS King Air to divert me away from a fire that had a nice cu at about 13,000' on top of the smoke. There was no TFR active in the area at takeoff and the area was very remote, so I figured the fire was fair game. About 5 miles from the fire, I noticed the King Air circling me at my altitude and dispensing what I figured was smoke flares. At least I hoped it was marker smoke and not live ammunition. That raises an interesting question about whether pilots are responsible for TFR's that become active after takeoff. I suspect so. What say the FAR lawyers in the audience? I know of at least one other pilot that day who ignored the King Air, used the lift over the fire and got home.
    2. At about the point I found the last usable lift, I had enough altitude to get to Tulelake AP and land. It would have been a long, expensive aero-retrieve but much more desirable that where I ended up. Pete Seger had a song back in the 60's about Vietnam. One line went, "Waist deep in the big muddy and the big fool says push on." That was me on this day.


    Smart things I did:
    1. As I headed for the last scrappy cu, I took good note of what appeared to be a fairly straight stretch of dirt road through what looked like a meadow in the woods. "Sure hope I don't have to use that." I said to myself.
    2. After one turn under the scrappy cu, I realized that I was going to have to use either that road or the meadow and I abandoned searching for lift at approx. 900~1,000 ft agl. That put me back over the landing area at around 700 ft or so.
    3. I decided to use the road instead of the benign looking meadow. In the picture of 1B you can see some of the large volcanic rocks in the "benign looking meadow." The rocks were not apparent at 5~600 ft on downwind.


    There was a pretty stiff crosswind, and the road was pretty narrow. Near the end of the landing roll I drifted off the road onto the edge of the benign meadow with the fiberglass eating rocks not far away. 1B did suffer some gear door damage and scrapes on the lower surface of the wings. But the outcome was not nearly as unfortunate as it would have been had I played around under the scrappy cu for a few more turns and not had enough time to evaluate the landing area.

    I'll pass on any potentially related war stories. That was a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. Suffice it to say I was very young, scared and lucky. I wasn't particularly scared during this landout. I was too busy working on the problem at hand and recovering from my earlier poor decisions.
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    Jim D. - 1B

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