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Thread: Grass Field Operations

  1. #1

    Grass Field Operations

    Does anyone have experience operating one of our birds regularly from a
    grass field? The FBO situation at my current (paved) field is beginning
    to be a real headache.

    There are two decent grass fields near me (one 2100 ft, the other 2400
    ft) that I'm considering moving to. Both are relatively smooth and are
    well taken care of.

    So, what is the real-world experience with a steady diet of turf
    runways? Is this a realistic possibility? Will I have any long-term
    maintenance issues due to our stiff landing gear?

    Best regards,

    Steve Robertson
    N4732J 1967 Super III





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  2. #2

    Grass Field Operations

    Hi Steve,
    My only experience with grass fields is that my landing tend to be much
    better and a whole lot smoother. Really no different than paved except
    better figure on about a 10 % or more increase in takeoff roll. Given my
    druthers, I would take a grass field any day.
    John

    -----Original Message-----
    From: musketeermail@yahoogroups.com [mailto:musketeermail@yahoogroups.com]
    On Behalf Of ke4oh
    Sent: Thursday, October 20, 2005 7:57 AM
    To: musketeermail@yahoogroups.com
    Subject: [musketeermail] Grass Field Operations


    Does anyone have experience operating one of our birds regularly from a
    grass field? The FBO situation at my current (paved) field is beginning
    to be a real headache.

    There are two decent grass fields near me (one 2100 ft, the other 2400
    ft) that I'm considering moving to. Both are relatively smooth and are
    well taken care of.

    So, what is the real-world experience with a steady diet of turf
    runways? Is this a realistic possibility? Will I have any long-term
    maintenance issues due to our stiff landing gear?

    Best regards,

    Steve Robertson
    N4732J 1967 Super III





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  3. #3

    Grass Field Operations

    Some of our group actually prefer our type of landing
    gear for grass runways (more durable). I have used my
    musketeer on a fair number of grass fields, and I
    usually choose grass if it is available where I'm
    heading... 2 things come to mind when operating this
    way.

    1) Landing are much smoother, there is no tendency of
    floating back up like you get when you cross over the
    hot pavement

    2) If the field is rough, your going to notice it
    more on Taxi/Takeoff/ and maybe even landing. Look at
    those cessna's next time you are out at the airport.
    All that spring steel in the landing gear really
    dampens the roughness of a 'rough' strip. We don't
    get that benifit with our short stubby landing gear.

    So find smooth grass, no problem. Find rough grass or
    hard packed dirt or something, and your going to
    notice it.

    Jay

    --- John Waterman <jwwaterman@comcast.net> wrote:

    > Hi Steve,
    > My only experience with grass fields is that my
    > landing tend to be much
    > better and a whole lot smoother. Really no different
    > than paved except
    > better figure on about a 10 % or more increase in
    > takeoff roll. Given my
    > druthers, I would take a grass field any day.
    > John
    >
    > -----Original Message-----
    > From: musketeermail@yahoogroups.com
    > [mailto:musketeermail@yahoogroups.com]
    > On Behalf Of ke4oh
    > Sent: Thursday, October 20, 2005 7:57 AM
    > To: musketeermail@yahoogroups.com
    > Subject: [musketeermail] Grass Field Operations
    >
    >
    > Does anyone have experience operating one of our
    > birds regularly from a
    > grass field? The FBO situation at my current (paved)
    > field is beginning
    > to be a real headache.
    >
    > There are two decent grass fields near me (one 2100
    > ft, the other 2400
    > ft) that I'm considering moving to. Both are
    > relatively smooth and are
    > well taken care of.
    >
    > So, what is the real-world experience with a steady
    > diet of turf
    > runways? Is this a realistic possibility? Will I
    > have any long-term
    > maintenance issues due to our stiff landing gear?
    >
    > Best regards,
    >
    > Steve Robertson
    > N4732J 1967 Super III
    >
    >
    >
    >
    >
    > Join BAC today and be a part of the ONLY Type Club
    > for the Musketeer series!
    >
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  4. #4

    Grass Field Operations

    Some comments on grass strip operations, Wet grass and cross wind landings should make you think about your personal limits. I have seen a number of close calls that were because of overestimated confidence and last minute corrections. Some pilots watch the tail draggers land and think piece of cake, but some of us relax at touchdown and do not hold the correction in.
    Grass strips are shorter than most paved runways and go arounds can be dicey in our series of planes.
    At one time my insurance had some type of limitation on non paved runways, I suggest checking your policy.

    Just my nickels worth. All in all turf is great if you remember your techinque and fly by the numbers. Nothing will get your attention faster than a high fast approach on wet grass with a crosswind. I fly a Cub off a turf field often just to keep my rudder and other skills fresh.


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  5. #5

    Grass Field Operations

    To all the other good comments, I will add the following. Those having
    direct experience with any of these factors are welcome to speak up. With
    Gaston's coming up, this should make a good Forum on BAC, even though there
    is a large "body of evidence" already there.



    Landing roll-outs will be much shorter than paved-field roll-outs. They
    also give you an early clue about added takeoff rolling resistance.



    Even smooth grass fields are rougher on the airframe than is pavement. Make
    sure your landing gear cushion disks (donuts) are reasonably "fresh" (not
    all flattened out with the rubber extruding well past the metal spacers,
    with vertical cracks in the OD). This includes the nose gear. The
    difference in cushioning, and in landing impacts (and taxi/departure
    impacts), both grass and paved, is night and day. Ask someone who recently
    replaced their donuts.



    Keep approach speeds low. Most of these turf fields are much shorter than
    you are accustomed to. While you need to make soft landings rather than
    "carrier plunks", you can't afford to float forever with partial power still
    on (as so many seem to do on paved runways).



    Remember that brakes will be nearly ineffective on turf at any significant
    speed; the wheels will just lock up. Be prepared to do a deliberate
    low-speed ground loop, with braking on one side assisted with rudder, to
    avoid going straight into any departure-end obstacles. Most low-speed
    ground loops are non-events in planes like ours, but few people mentally
    prepare to do them deliberately. At low speeds they are pretty effective at
    dissipating energy without damage. I DO NOT advocate any deliberate
    practice, for obvious reasons! They can also help on pavement, but the
    added tire grip makes them much riskier on paved surfaces (tipping, wingtip
    contact, quartering tip-up or nose-over with prop strike, etc.). At slow
    speeds I would still choose to attempt one on pavement, if it might keep me
    out of certain contact with hard obstacles or a ditch ( or from going over a
    cliff?!).



    Hold enough takeoff back pressure to relieve the nosewheel load, but not
    enough to raise it clear. On firm turf (which is all you should be using),
    that will provide the best compromise between added acceleration drag and
    reduced impact loads on the nose structure.



    Use at least one notch of takeoff flaps for much the same reasons. If you
    are comfortable with it, adding a second notch will pop you off the ground
    earlier, when you get fast enough. The speed varies with aircraft, loading,
    weight, power, etc., but usually is pretty close to the published stall
    speed.



    Climb at Vx rather than Vy; with two notches of flaps, the charts often
    suggest climb speeds below Vx. Leave on one notch of flaps (or both notches
    if you used two) until you approach Vy. By Vy flaps are generating more
    drag than lift, but I rarely retract flaps until I am clear of obstacles,
    except at large paved fields. Our planes tend to make a small nose-dip on
    flap retraction, until you have begun to subconsciously correct for it.
    Read the performance charts on BAC for these operations at the lower end of
    the performance envelope. There is a ton of good info there. Could save
    your bacon and airplane some day.



    Practice these methods on pavement. Once you are comfortable with your
    departure technique, and are doing it well, you can play it safe and add
    maybe 20% to the "departure distance for obstacle clearance" that you are
    achieving. It is a virtual certainty that you will find that number to be
    well within your capability on a 2,100 foot strip.



    BEWARE OF TALL GRASS! It is like operating in glue, especially when wet
    with dew or recent rain. If a field is not being mowed frequently, or there
    seems to be a likelihood of minimal field maintenance, look elsewhere.



    And finally, check your insurance policy. Some still exclude operations on
    unpaved fields.





    _____

    From: musketeermail@yahoogroups.com [mailto:musketeermail@yahoogroups.com]
    On Behalf Of ke4oh
    Sent: Thursday, October 20, 2005 9:57 AM
    To: musketeermail@yahoogroups.com
    Subject: [musketeermail] Grass Field Operations



    Does anyone have experience operating one of our birds regularly from a
    grass field? The FBO situation at my current (paved) field is beginning
    to be a real headache.

    There are two decent grass fields near me (one 2100 ft, the other 2400
    ft) that I'm considering moving to. Both are relatively smooth and are
    well taken care of.

    So, what is the real-world experience with a steady diet of turf
    runways? Is this a realistic possibility? Will I have any long-term
    maintenance issues due to our stiff landing gear?

    Best regards,

    Steve Robertson
    N4732J 1967 Super III

    _____



    [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]



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  6. #6

    Grass Field Operations

    Hi Steve,

    I flew my sport and sundowner in and out of grass
    strips probably once a week for more 10 or 15 yrs.,
    which is probably more than a lot of guys that are
    based on grass fly, and think they are great for that.
    The trailing link gear will take the rough pounding
    some grass strips will give, with no problems at all.
    I haven't had my sierra on the grass because my good
    friend who had the strip I went to the most, passed
    away before I got it, or I probably would have. My
    only concern would be the possibility of clumps, mud,
    etc. in the wheel wells. Has anyone any experience or
    advice for retracts on turf?

    Dan Sierra N9299S

    --- Al Todd <av8tor8770m@sbcglobal.net> wrote:

    > Hi, I never based at a turf field, but used them all
    > the time. My A23 was a
    > great soft/turf field aircraft. I had 600-6 tires
    > all the way around, gives
    > very good prop clearance.
    > The book, and my experience tells me either field
    > would work factoring in
    > obstacles on approach and departure. You might want
    > to manage your fuel to
    > half tanks for better performance, only topping when
    > the mission demands it.
    > I never based on turf because the ones available to
    > me were not useable
    > several months of the year due to lottsa water, wet
    > & white, you might want
    > to find out how the field conditions change with the
    > seasons. Some are very
    > good year round, some are not.
    > I love landing on turf, makes you look good if they
    > roll it occasionally.
    > Blue skies and green grass
    > Al Todd B24R 9321S
    > ----- Original Message -----
    > From: "ke4oh" <ke4oh@yahoo.com>
    > To: <musketeermail@yahoogroups.com>
    > Sent: Thursday, October 20, 2005 9:57 AM
    > Subject: [musketeermail] Grass Field Operations
    >
    >
    > > Does anyone have experience operating one of our
    > birds regularly from a
    > > grass field? The FBO situation at my current
    > (paved) field is beginning
    > > to be a real headache.
    > >
    > > There are two decent grass fields near me (one
    > 2100 ft, the other 2400
    > > ft) that I'm considering moving to. Both are
    > relatively smooth and are
    > > well taken care of.
    > >
    > > So, what is the real-world experience with a
    > steady diet of turf
    > > runways? Is this a realistic possibility? Will I
    > have any long-term
    > > maintenance issues due to our stiff landing gear?
    > >
    > > Best regards,
    > >
    > > Steve Robertson
    > > N4732J 1967 Super III
    > >
    > >
    > >
    > >
    > >
    > >
    > > Join BAC today and be a part of the ONLY Type Club
    > for the Musketeer
    > series!
    > >
    > > www.beechaeroclub.org
    > >
    > >
    > > Yahoo! Groups Links
    > >
    > >
    > >
    > >
    > >
    > >
    > >
    > >
    >
    >
    >
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  7. #7

    Grass Field Operations

    I have some fair experience with my C24R Sierra on grass/turf, including
    firm, soft, and wet. Part of that experience was reflected in my recent
    posting on the subject. I don't operate off anything but firm, dry,
    well-mowed turf anymore. There are two key reasons. One is that
    performance becomes far less predictable. Some conditions of wet, soft
    ground, or tall wet grass, may make it impossible to ever reach a "break
    clear speed". Sort of like being unable to get the hull of an amphibs clear
    of smooth water. It is a bit of a creepy feeling. The situation is similar
    to icing and frost. Since you can't make it have a predictable performance
    effect, I just avoid it. The second reason is that I hate cleaning the
    godawful mess off of the bottom of the plane, and out of the gear strut
    area.



    Bonanzas, and most other retracts, have routinely operated off of firm turf
    fields. Most early Bonanzas probably spent much of their life on them.
    Ditto for the Model 55 Barons, and the early Travelairs, Apaches, etc. If
    the field isn't kept smooth, I can't help but think that it implies a need
    for careful ops and inspections. Actual touchdowns are often softer on
    turf; but the grass clumps, etc. can get pretty bouncy during taxi and
    departure.



    This reminded me. Jon called my attention to the fact that some early 150
    HP-160 HP planes have only two notches of flaps. My comments about pulling
    in a second notch of flaps, to pop off the ground when ready, applies to
    those planes ONLY when they are being operated IAW the maximum performance
    charts published on BAC (lower IAS of 60 MPH for max climb). If you are
    sticking with the book numbers (higher climb IAS), don't use that technique
    unless you have all three flap settings available.



    It may be repetitive, but there are several valuable references available on
    BAC that relate to these max-performance operations. In addition to the
    charts, there are articles and links that offer more knowledge on this
    subject.





    _____

    From: musketeermail@yahoogroups.com [mailto:musketeermail@yahoogroups.com]
    On Behalf Of Ann Kirby
    Sent: Thursday, October 20, 2005 2:57 PM
    To: Al Todd; musketeermail@yahoogroups.com; ke4oh
    Subject: Re: [musketeermail] Grass Field Operations



    Hi Steve,

    I flew my sport and sundowner in and out of grass
    strips probably once a week for more 10 or 15 yrs.,
    which is probably more than a lot of guys that are
    based on grass fly, and think they are great for that.
    The trailing link gear will take the rough pounding
    some grass strips will give, with no problems at all.
    I haven't had my sierra on the grass because my good
    friend who had the strip I went to the most, passed
    away before I got it, or I probably would have. My
    only concern would be the possibility of clumps, mud,
    etc. in the wheel wells. Has anyone any experience or
    advice for retracts on turf?

    Dan Sierra N9299S

    --- Al Todd <av8tor8770m@sbcglobal.net> wrote:

    > Hi, I never based at a turf field, but used them all
    > the time. My A23 was a
    > great soft/turf field aircraft. I had 600-6 tires
    > all the way around, gives
    > very good prop clearance.
    > The book, and my experience tells me either field
    > would work factoring in
    > obstacles on approach and departure. You might want
    > to manage your fuel to
    > half tanks for better performance, only topping when
    > the mission demands it.
    > I never based on turf because the ones available to
    > me were not useable
    > several months of the year due to lottsa water, wet
    > & white, you might want
    > to find out how the field conditions change with the
    > seasons. Some are very
    > good year round, some are not.
    > I love landing on turf, makes you look good if they
    > roll it occasionally.
    > Blue skies and green grass
    > Al Todd B24R 9321S
    > ----- Original Message -----
    > From: "ke4oh" <ke4oh@yahoo.com>
    > To: <musketeermail@yahoogroups.com>
    > Sent: Thursday, October 20, 2005 9:57 AM
    > Subject: [musketeermail] Grass Field Operations
    >
    >
    > > Does anyone have experience operating one of our
    > birds regularly from a
    > > grass field? The FBO situation at my current
    > (paved) field is beginning
    > > to be a real headache.
    > >
    > > There are two decent grass fields near me (one
    > 2100 ft, the other 2400
    > > ft) that I'm considering moving to. Both are
    > relatively smooth and are
    > > well taken care of.
    > >
    > > So, what is the real-world experience with a
    > steady diet of turf
    > > runways? Is this a realistic possibility? Will I
    > have any long-term
    > > maintenance issues due to our stiff landing gear?
    > >
    > > Best regards,
    > >
    > > Steve Robertson
    > > N4732J 1967 Super III
    > >
    > >
    > >
    > >
    > >
    > >
    > > Join BAC today and be a part of the ONLY Type Club
    > for the Musketeer
    > series!
    > >
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    > >
    > >
    > >
    > >
    > >
    > >
    > >
    > >
    >
    >
    >
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  8. #8

    Grass Field Operations

    I have a couple more comments. I land on grass once or twice a month.

    I would be careful with flaps extended and back pressure on the
    elevator on ground roll - for me that generates noticeable additional
    drag. My only real scare was the first year I owned my plane taking off
    from a grass strip, flaps extended, back pressure the whole way and I
    thought I'd never get off. Burned up a lot of the runway before
    breaking free - then my climb even seemed sluggish.

    My technique is to try for a rolling start even if it requires a 90
    degree turn (I feel like I get better prop traction if I am moving -
    but would be interested in others thoughts on this), no flaps, full
    power, neutral elevator(all to max thrust and minimize drag), and at
    60kts one notch of flaps followed by back pressure on the elevator and
    hold 70 until I'm clear of the trees and then back to 80. I think if
    you experiment with this you'll find it works pretty well. Try it and
    get comfortable on asphalt.

    Watch airspeed(very important) on landing as well - once in ground
    effect you still will use a fair amount of runway to bleed off excess
    speed something your brakes will be less effective than on asphalt in
    doing.

    Shelby Smith




    On Friday, October 21, 2005, at 09:19 AM,
    musketeermail@yahoogroups.com wrote:

    > Grass Field Operations



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