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Thread: Snow landings

  1. #1
    S2D's Avatar
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    Snow landings

    Since we face this each year, maybe we should post something of this sort each year.
    It's easy to say Just don't do that, or I'll never do that, but each year we get a few airplanes on their back because of wheel Landing in snow that didn't turn out right.
    It isn't just a newby problem either. plenty of old pros have found themselves in the same situation.
    So maybe we could start a list of do's and don'ts.

    1. Just don't land in the snow on wheels. (this is easy to say, but realistically it isn't going to happen unless you are in an area that gets deep snow early and it stays deep and you put your skis on and keep them on all winter.)

    2. Know your airplane. (is it tail heavy or nose heavy)

    3. Put plenty of air in your tires. Those soft squishy things are worthless in snow and help contribute to a wreck

    4. Never land in the snow at idle power. (power is your friend)

    5. Know your snow. (was it warm or real cold when it snowed.)

    I'm sure there are many more the pros can contribute.
    I may be wrong but that probably won't stop me from arguing about it.
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    12Geezer2's Avatar
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    skis are on ---snow is good ---fun meter at the top ---geezer Dan

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    S2D's Avatar
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    Guess nobody else lands on wheels.
    I may be wrong but that probably won't stop me from arguing about it.

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    aktango58's Avatar
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    Carry survival gear, including shovels, and put them in the far back so you have more tail weight
    I don't know where you've been me lad, but I see you won first Prize!

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by S2D View Post
    Guess nobody else lands on wheels.
    You scared us too much, waiting for summer-thinking about moving to Florida so I can fly in the winter.
    Last edited by OLDCROWE; 01-06-2016 at 08:10 AM.
    Remember, These are the Good old Days!
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    There's no big deal to land tires on snow unless there's too much snow. The same can be said for water. If its been raining for days and much of the runway is submerged it s important you know by how much. Landing skis on too little snow is no bargain, either. I know, we've all seen the Ultima Thule pics of their ski cubs operating on dirt, but I'm talking about the rest of us. Land on thin snow and have the skis hit a little unseen gravel or dirt and it'll grab your attention. And to finish? Landing floats in too shallow water can be pretty damn eventful, too. Coming off the step shouldn't mean coming to a grinding halt.... but it can. I guess the moral of the story is that the airplane driver needs to know the conditions.

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    12Geezer2's Avatar
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    Brian : Did land with wheels in 16 inches of snow just a few miles east of you. This was a few years ago while delivering a nice PA-18 to a new owner in Bozeman. Kinda did like you said --used some power and the snow was fresh and fluffy (was rather cold out)--no -I don't remember how cold. If my memory is correct these were 31 inch tires. Sort of used the same method as landing my little bitty stock wheeled PA-12 in 18 inches of alfalfa. The snow does not turn the prop green like alfalfa. As my old instructor said " give the airplane what it needs"----sometimes the "computer" that sits on top of the shoulders is a bit slow and ANY of us can have a problem--- an---expensive problem.
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    S2D's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OLDCROWE View Post
    You scared us too much, waiting for summer-thinking about moving to Florida so I can fly in the winter.
    Yea its been pretty lonely up here this winter !!!! (507)
    I may be wrong but that probably won't stop me from arguing about it.
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    SteveE's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 12Geezer2 View Post
    Brian : Did land with wheels in 16 inches of snow just a few miles east of you. This was a few years ago while delivering a nice PA-18 to a new owner in Bozeman. Kinda did like you said --used some power and the snow was fresh and fluffy (was rather cold out)--no -I don't remember how cold. If my memory is correct these were 31 inch tires. Sort of used the same method as landing my little bitty stock wheeled PA-12 in 18 inches of alfalfa. The snow does not turn the prop green like alfalfa. As my old instructor said " give the airplane what it needs"----sometimes the "computer" that sits on top of the shoulders is a bit slow and ANY of us can have a problem--- an---expensive problem.
    Sure don't want to try that in wet sticky 16" snow in Oklahoma. Lesson learned.


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    Quote Originally Posted by SteveE View Post
    Sure don't want to try that in wet sticky 16" snow in Oklahoma. Lesson learned.
    That's a good way to set a personal record for a short landing.

    16" of wet sticky snow is no bargain on skis, either. Not if you want to get back out, anyway. I have lots of memories of ski flying. Not all of them were fun.
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    Quote Originally Posted by S2D View Post
    Guess nobody else lands on wheels.
    Hi Brian, There is a lot of changability in the snow from day to day..as we here in the north country know from years of experience. Maybe someone wouldn't if you only have snow to deal with once in a while.
    4 to 5 inches of snow that fell without wind and when it was cold is like feathers, that same snow if its warm out would drag you down, if it drifts a bit...it will get crusty.
    That fluffy snow coming from the spout of my snowblower will be cement the next day where it fell....maybe hard enough to "almost" taxi over.
    I thought I read in an aftermath story of the Air Florida 737 take off crash...the pilots were maybe of the impression that the snow they accumulated during takeoff delays would "blow off" during the take off roll....well maybe on some days...and some temps...but not that day.
    http://www.ntsb.gov/investigations/A...s/AAR8208.aspx
    When my Dad did a lot of ski flying....morning cold air, dry snow, no sun=clean ski bottoms....sun out, warmer air= draggy skis
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    12Geezer2's Avatar
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    Randy: Yes indeed ---conditions are EVERYTHING. What we did today could wreck us tomorrow. Nice snow right now but if we get a warm up then more snow, who knows what the fresh stuff is hiding !!!!
    Last edited by 12Geezer2; 01-06-2016 at 03:11 PM. Reason: spellink

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    SteveE's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stewartb View Post
    That's a good way to set a personal record for a short landing.

    16" of wet sticky snow is no bargain on skis, either. Not if you want to get back out, anyway. I have lots of memories of ski flying. Not all of them were fun.
    Ya,, about 10 years ago... It was a pretty short landing...
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    cubdriver2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SteveE View Post
    Ya,, about 10 years ago... It was a pretty short landing...
    I heard the " skid marks" were longer then the landing?

    Glenn

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    Analyze all your clues for snow depth. About a week ago we went ice fishing on the tires. Had not snowed for weeks in the area which was the first piece of evidence. Secondly, there were wolves running around on the ice exactly where I wanted to touch down. While making a few passes to see if they were friendly, I noticed their ankles were barely covered. Touched down in 4-5" of fairly average soft stuff, all was good including the fishing.

    I will second the statement above about airing up the Bushwheels. The previous days flight under identical conditions at another lake with low pressure was VERY draggy and attention getting. Aired the tars up to 9.5 # and was quite pleased with the results.

    Ask questions if you dont know, most pilots are good guys and love passing on experience.
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  16. #16
    westwind's Avatar
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    good topic alright
    i like to feel it out first with a pass - drag my tires in the snow a bit before committing to any landing...
    like s2d says power is your friend

  17. #17
    Cubus Maximus's Avatar
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    too much snow to takeoff too...


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    Full throttle hold the stick back soft field take off never let me down yet

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    S2D's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cubus Maximus View Post
    too much snow to takeoff too...


    Been there done that. About an hour or two of stomping snow down in front of the airplane usually does it.
    I may be wrong but that probably won't stop me from arguing about it.

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  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by S2D View Post
    Been there done that. About an hour or two of stomping snow down in front of the airplane usually does it.
    Guess I should have added, there are times that deep snow just don't pack !!!! When you land in those conditions, Just quit. Trying to pack a runway with the airplane at full power is not a good idea.
    I may be wrong but that probably won't stop me from arguing about it.

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    Landed very very short in Skwentna...once. Circled the air strip. Two 207’s were parked on the plowed ramp. Runway looked like it had nose dragger tracks....was wearing 8:00/6’s, std Scott 3200 tail wheel. Dragging it in with full flaps....I stopped in less than 30 feet. Snow as about 8” deep and it wasn’t the fluffy stuff. The nose dragger tracks turned out to be snow machine tracks. Was able to get out on the first try...took about 200 feet to get on top of the snow. Had 60#’s of sand....in a bag, against the rear bulkhead...


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    I use the Datum wheel skis on my bird, and with our lousy snow year here so far, find myself facing the decision, with not enough snow for the skis over my gravel departure area (a built up ramp that slopes down to my turf runway) of using my summertime runway, on the wheels. 6:00 tires is the biggest I can run, but I do have pretty good ground clearance. I have had an in between stage the last few weeks, not enough snow for the skis, too much snow for the wheels. I actually plowed my summer runway today just for the wheels, which I hate to do in case or when we get more snow. I would land this on the skis, there's enough snow for that, but I have to taxi over gravel on the wheels to get there, then once aimed downhill when I transition to the skis, due to the slope I start sliding immediately. That's why my winter time ops use a level gravel area right in front of my concrete slab in front of the hangar, so I can taxi right up to the start of the slope, but still be on level ground. I transition to skis on level snow, sometimes just a few scoop shovels worth, then give it the gun and once on the slope I'm going flying, no changing my mind at that point.

    The other issue I have is taking off early, when the ground is rock hard, and coming back later when it's a bit mushy. It's a rough life up here. Still lots of snow up higher so I'm not putting the 29" Airstreaks on just yet, I made that mistake last year.

    First pic from 6 days ago, snow almost all gone, only problem is too soft of ground, I don't want to get any tire tracks starting any erosion, ever. Second pic today, ground still hard so I could plow without tearing up the turf.
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    Cub Special Ed's Avatar
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    If only they could invent a contraption that allows for both skis and wheels at the same time. (That was affordable)
    "There are 3 kinds of men. The one that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves." Will Rogers

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    Dave Calkins's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cub Special Ed View Post
    If only they could invent a contraption that allows for both skis and wheels at the same time. (That was affordable)

    They did. Its called Ice

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    BC12D-4-85's Avatar
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    Become a periodic snow event farmer and make ice from snow by compacting it with a roller or drag. Snow will last longer that way if the ground's not too warm. And the white will reflect the sun to slow melting.

    Gary
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  28. #28
    S2D's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by courierguy View Post
    MIght just be an illusion, but that wind generator pole looks awfully close to the runway !!! didn't we have a thread about an outhouse problem like that ?
    I may be wrong but that probably won't stop me from arguing about it.

  29. #29

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    No illusion, but I'm either just starting my takeoff roll or turning left towards the hangar if landing. I have 3' clearance if on centerline, more if I crowd the opposite side.

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