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Friday, May 2, 2008

L/D redux
From: Jerry Painter
Date: 5/2/2008 10:16:28 AM
Subject: L/D redux
Another factor that can play a big role is that many M-14 powered aircraft
have MT, Whirlwind and other 3-blade props that become very effective
airbrakes when pushed to high rpm at low power. I was reminded of this
yesterday flying with Jim Bourke, owner of RC Groups.com, in his Yak-54
(formerly owned by Eric Beard and known on the airshow circuit as Russian
Thunder). It has an MT. Jim likes to fly a "high-speed" (200-225 kph or so,
all the way to flare), close-in pattern, giving him better visibility, then
as he begins to flare he simply pushes the prop up to high rpm, followed by
reduced throttle. It's like flying into a big bowl of mush. The airplane
screeches to a halt, squats and lands. I've occasionally used this technique
myself, traffic permitting. The huge drag of the prop gives huge control of
speed at a moment's notice. If nothing else its a fun technique and keeping
the speed up on final can only be a good thing safety-wise. Not exactly your
typical (though it could be, in fact not a bad idea) practice "emergency"
landing technique, high, fast and steep. Not sure about MT's, but Whirlwinds
go high pitch with lost oil pressure.
There aren't many geared flat (or round) engines around any more and I've
read about alleged problems pilots of geared T-Bones and Commanders had with
reverse-loading of their engines, though I'm not sure "reverse-loading" is
actually happening, and its very short term during flare in any case. Anyone
have anything to offer on the subject re M-14's? Facts, not conjecture and
old-wives tales, please. Some of you old bomber pilots must have some info
on Pratts and Wrights, no?
On another subject, the -54 has very pronounced roll-coupling with rudder,
even though the rudder tapers significantly, with most of the area down low.
Not having much experience with big-rudder-optimized-for-gyros aerobatic
airplanes (like "none"), I'm wondering whether this is common and if it may
have contributed to some of the -54 "odd quirks" and "killer" stories, in
that that one was apparently spun in in Alaska (I understand it was the only
other -54 in the US). I didn't get much chance to explore it and its (way)
beyond my skill set anyway, but its a bit surprising to have the airplane
roll opposite rudder input, I.e., skid right and the left wing drops a bunch
  A big help for some tumbling maneuvers no doubt, but may make some typical
maneuvers (like say, slips) and, especially, recovery techniques a bit odd
if not plain inappropriate.
BTW, Eric and Bud Granley are the only people I've seen hover an airplane
(Bud in his -55, preferably while inverted, flying formation with a
helicopter at very, very low altitude), though it may be common now. Didn't
get a chance to try it myself, but would love to one fine day.
Jerry Painter
Wild Blue Aviation
10:29 am pdt

From: Jerry Painter
Date: 5/1/2008 7:44:25 AM
Subject: L/D
This is an interesting discussion. Let's see if I can make some waves, just
for fun.
You can follow the same flight path power on/off flaps up/down etc. by
simply varying speed and drag. Power, speed, drag and flight path are all
interdependent variables--the Fab Four in the L/D equation. T-Crafts,
Cherokees, CJ's, -52's, 747's et al. I have to say I've never quite
understood what makes folks think that when you enter the pattern the
airplane suddenly becomes more likely to have an engine failure than while
en route, ergo power-off approaches, but that's another discussion. I fly
over mountains/water all the time. Yes, I understand that first power
reduction is the mostly likely time for engine failure, so take your time
about that, but we're talking approaches. I dare say "nobody," wannabees or
otherwise, "normally" makes power-off approaches in typical military or
civilian trainer, fighter or transport aircraft, feet wet or dry, recip or
turbine, though I'm sure there are exceptions (emergency/practice), but, hey
  I'm just a civilian. The X-15 had a near 1:1 l/d, I expect the Shuttle isn
t much better, most of the approach is less than that. In any case, there's
no point in slowing to best L/D or pulling the power off until you've got
the runway made, X-15 or otherwise--we're not talking timed approaches are
we? The only time speed really matters is on touchdown. Budd is absolutely
right about the need to fit into the flow, like it or not--cutting others
off isn't just bad manners, its dangerous. At the home drome, KAWO, on those
occasional sunny and even usual rainy days we have to mix it up with various
civilian single/multi/turbines, helicopters (what makes them want to
land/autorotate on the runways and taxiways inquiring minds want to know,
SSH is--for the better--gone, but, apparently, not forgotten), gliders,
ultralights, RV 360 gaggles, overlapping patterns left, right, parallel and
diagonal plus the odd P-47, Me-109 (thank you, Paul Allen), Apha Jet/L-39
and usual bizjets, practice ILS against the flow with missed right through
the downwind (tho not in the procedure). And once in a while the Navy drops
by in a P-3 for good measure, tho no B-1's or -2's, yet.
Constant speed power-off 60mph approaches in your J-3 or power-off manhole
cover in your Pitts ainna gonna cut it for spacing, 360 or otherwise, no
hurry for combat turnaround. Plus, as Barry says, if you're making a 60
degree bank be sure you keep the speed up because the stall just went to 1.
4Vso. The only good thing about a 45 degree bank in the pattern is max rate
of turn for altitude lost, so its good for that (absolutely necessary?) 180
back to the patch, but the stall goes up to 1.2Vso, so keep the speed up
then, too. And mid-airs ain't no fun, neither.
The ILS is 3 degrees (20:1) for good reason, but not many of us can do it
power-off. Emergencies ain't standard procedure.
Jerry Painter
CFI, A&P, Chief pilot, airport bum, permanent latrine orderly & c.
Wild Blue Aviation
10:28 am pdt

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