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Do You Remember Your First Off Airport Landing?PleaseShare

I have no recollection of my first "off airport" landing except that in those days any spot big enough was considered to be fair game. Sad, now we would get in trouble just thinking about it. I have looked at places where I used to land and wondered how I managed to get in and out of that little pea patch. Could very likely fill a book of short stories on the topic. I do have some secret places just to keep my hand in. :pirate:
 
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2005 shortly after I solo'd I got my tail wheel endorsement with jay Baldwin. Landed on the knick


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Oh that first one,, my first plane was at age 19, 65 HP Champ. My friend and I were air knocking out over the Mississippi river. I saw a sand bar covered with people having fun, camping and skiing. We circled the bar a couple times and my bud said, 'lets land there", duh, OK I said. I touched the mains a couple times and decided it should be OK, I didn't consider a departure plan. When we landed and the tail wheel dug into the sand, the landing roll was about zero feet it seemed. People ran over and the first words I heard was,,," I can believe you landed, that was stupid". My friend was not an aviation guy, was unconcerned and went straight to a ski boat and was out on the river. I relaxed for a bit and schemed on how to get back in the air.
I knew we could never get airborne from the soft sand in the middle of the island, so walked the little feller over to the waters edge. It was fairly packed and was not straight, had about a 10 degree slope to the right with an right turn about half way down. I am guessing I had about 200' ending with a hard left turn at the end. We marked the entire left side with drink cans and then put a pile at the point where we HAD to be airborne.
When we loaded up to give it a go, I got back in the front and quickly saw that I needed to be in the back since my friend was about 40 pounds heavier. I had never flown a tail dragger from the back and this wasn't the best time to start. I walked the course a few times and rehearsed it all in my head. We had a boat waiting down range and people briefed on a rescue plan. I interviewed and recruited the best two drunks available to run along and hold the tail wheel out of the wet sand. With only 65 horses and two late afternoon drunks, here we go. Full power and forward elevator,,, I remember one guy falling flat early and the other soon after. Luckily the tail stayed up, had it fell into the sand my plan was to abort. We made the slight right turn and chugged to the pile of beer cans. I couldn't see the airspeed but knew I was slower than usual. I pulled back just enough to fly and not rob any speed and limped the little dumpling out across the river. That was 50 years ago, wasn't one of my better decisions but it worked out fine and fun to tell the story.

Gordon
 
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Today I made my first true off airport landing in the cow pasture up in the hills. My dad was riding along with me and I told him I would make a pass and see how the approach felt. To his surprise I landed on the first approach because everything felt right. Greased it in like I knew what I was doing. However the takeoff was much more exiting. The strip elevation is 8,100 and the density altitude made it 10,000. The strip has some fairly pronounced bumps about 200 feet into it as we takeoff to the south. The tail was only partially up when we started bouncing which caused me to weave around like a drunk. It was at that point that my dad quit videoing out of the front window and pointed the camera at the front seat, ha ha. I pulled it off and kept it in ground effect until I had gained good airspeed and then uneventfully flew on out.
I'm not sure if I needed to trim it more nose down than normal to help bring the tail up? The trim was left set for landing with full flaps which is usually three handle revolutions forward of cruise flight. In any case I will always remember my first flight into and out of the back country while at the controls.
 

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After a summer at the local airport, I flew the Champ back to my house. 900ft, inclined with trees at the top. There was 6ft of corn at the threshold and tassels in the tail springs became common. But the most memorable Champ takeoff was at an airport, on skis. The Aeronca oleos were about sacked and not ready for loss of puffy tires, so it couldn't take the ridges in the snow as I tried to take off outside the snowbanks. The engine was cutting out from all the up and down. I then noticed the tops of the considerable snowbanks had been cleanly shaved by a snowplow wing. I approached at shallow angle, almost dragged a tip, took the high ground and throttled up down a long white putting green.
 
After a summer at the local airport, I flew the Champ back to my house. 900ft, inclined with trees at the top. There was 6ft of corn at the threshold and tassels in the tail springs became common. But the most memorable Champ takeoff was at an airport, on skis. The Aeronca oleos were about sacked and not ready for loss of puffy tires, so it couldn't take the ridges in the snow as I tried to take off outside the snowbanks. The engine was cutting out from all the up and down. I then noticed the tops of the considerable snowbanks had been cleanly shaved by a snowplow wing. I approached at shallow angle, almost dragged a tip, took the high ground and throttled up down a long white putting green.

Tim, this is the 900' with the jeep that is close to the farm.
 
My first off-airport landing was also my first emergency. I had a 2600 foot grass strip on our family cranberry farm in central Wisconsin. My neighbor to the east also had his own 2600 foot strip on his farm. I took off to the north one morning in my 90 hp Piper J5A Cub Cruiser, heading for the Wisconsin Rapids airport (which was about 10 miles east).

As I climbed out I suddenly heard a "CRACK" and the engine quit cold. My training kicked in and I immediately pulled the carb heat on as I established best glide and assessed my options. I also played with the mag switches and assured that the throttle was fully open. At the same time all this was happening, I remember thinking "you just heard something break. It ain't gonna restart"!

I knew I was too far from my strip to make it back, but the neighbor's strip was off the right wing. I turned in that direction and started trying to figure out if I was going to make it. It soon became apparent that I was going to end up short, so I switched gears and lined up for the big cranberry field that was just off the north end of the neighbor's strip. It was after harvest so there were no berries to damage, and the vines were all nicely combed from the harvest equipment. I lined up so I'd be landing "with the vines", as I knew they would just lay down and not cause any problems.

It was probably the nicest landing I ever did in the J5. A real greaser! Funny how you can do great things when you're really concentrating and the adrenaline is pumping! I rolled to a stop and got out to see what was going on with the engine. As I looked around there were pickup trucks coming from every direction. Apparently everyone around the area had seen my gliding down to an unusual spot! I had plenty of help getting the airplane out of the field and back to my strip.

We ended up finding out that the gear on the crankshaft in the C-90 had broken and stripped itself off the crank. This of course stopped the cam and mags from turning, but allowed the crank to keep turning. A couple of weeks later we had the engine back up and running and all was well. The whole thing was a great lesson to a then low-time pilot.
 
Flew many hours over those bogs in the c130. Do you know Craige Scott?

Jake


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I clearly remember my first off-airport landing. Had about 300 hours TT, and about 5 in my C-170B that I had just traded for. Got into bad weather, and ended up landing on a logging road here in Montana, rather than climb up into IMC in the mountains with no gyros. The road was muddy, real slick and not quite long enough. My wife in the back, and my buddy in the front were just fine. It only took me 6 months to rebuild the plane! A very valuable lesson..
 
Flew many hours over those bogs in the c130. Do you know Craige Scott?

Sure do Jake! I haven't seen him in ages but we used to talk quite a bit when I was in the berry business.

I probably watched you fly over in your C130 too. Used to go down to Hardwood quite often too.

Cool stuff!
 
I'm not sure if this counts, but we have a small local field (2100') that has a nice smooth dirt/seasonal grass median between the runway and taxiway. There is no mid-field intersection, and the median was listed in Flight Guide (this was 1980) as OK for takeoff and landing. I was landing in my Mom's Decathlon and figured why not? I made a nice landing and taxi-ed back to the ramp and shut down. This old guy comes out and says " Jeez kid, you having a hard time? You missed the runway completely". "No Sir, I did that on purpose. It says right here in Flight Guide that I can". Mumbles, rolls eyes and walks away.
 
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Today I made my first true off airport landing in the cow pasture up in the hills. My dad was riding along with me and I told him I would make a pass and see how the approach felt. To his surprise I landed on the first approach because everything felt right. Greased it in like I knew what I was doing. However the takeoff was much more exiting. The strip elevation is 8,100 and the density altitude made it 10,000. The strip has some fairly pronounced bumps about 200 feet into it as we takeoff to the south. The tail was only partially up when we started bouncing which caused me to weave around like a drunk. It was at that point that my dad quit videoing out of the front window and pointed the camera at the front seat, ha ha. I pulled it off and kept it in ground effect until I had gained good airspeed and then uneventfully flew on out.
I'm not sure if I needed to trim it more nose down than normal to help bring the tail up? The trim was left set for landing with full flaps which is usually three handle revolutions forward of cruise flight. In any case I will always remember my first flight into and out of the back country while at the controls.
I've landed in quite a few pastures and have determined there are two absolutes. 1) That lovely green grass is like a siren that calls you in so the underlying potholes can beat the snot out of your airplane. 2) You will always hit at least one big, fresh, wet cowpie and it WILL be slung onto the underside of the wing, where it will dry nicely on the way home.
 
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