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Landing in snow on wheels

55-PA18A

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Dillingham, Alaska
How deep of snow can you safely land in when on tires? The ski's are in Dillingham and the plane is in Indiana. I'm on 29-10-11 tires and there's a couple of inches of snow. I've only been on ski's when landing in snow. Am I asking for trouble? Could just wait a week or so for the snow to be gone.

Jim
 
Jim,

The problem is, as you well know-There's snow, and then there's snow. Frankly, on those tires, a couple inches of snow shouldn't be a problem.

But, how are you going to determine snow depth/consistency from the air?

I've landed in light, fluffy interior Alaska snow that was over a foot deep on Bushwheels, but that's the type of snow that blows away when you just breath on it...and it's a type of snow that doesn't happen many places.

If you can get out there on foot BEFORE landing, that's ideal, of course...offers the opportunity to judge snow depth and consistency.

Consistency (crusty/heavy, wet/fluffy, multiple crusts, etc) is almost more important than snow depth. Six inches of new snow on those tires that's not heavy/wet snow might be okay, but six inches of heavy wet stuff, or crusty snow might be less fun.

And, bear in mind, conditions when you land may change while you're on the surface, as temperatures increase.

Definitely land as far back on the tires as you can....nose high at touch, tailwheel first if you can, and stick all the way in your gut. And, be prepared to go full power and leave suddenly, maybe.

My (conservative) policy has always been skis for snow, unless it's really very little snow. Your mileage may vary. I'm guessing you know as much about snow as anyone here, based on where you live.

MTV
 
I have done it on occasion with no issues and never had any trouble. At this point in my life (and having had some experiences), I am going to say "just don't do it". Skis are for snow, period.
 
I get that question a lot here in Southern Colorado. I tell everybody, if you don't KNOW what the snow conditions are, don't even think of it. As Mvivion spelled out, snow is insidious stuff.
Had a buddy flip his 180 landing in snow. He did a low flyby and noticed the top of the grass was six inches above the snow. After he crawled out of the upside down 180, he found out the grass was 18 inches tall.......
 
Snow comes in a multitude of different densities as well as depths. Powder, wet heavy, crusty, etc. It's one thing to check it out from the ground prior to takeoff another prior to landing. On landing you could very well be checking it out upside down. I'd go with the Jonny Walker.
 
Yeah. I'm probably too chickenshit to do it anyway. But it's calm, the sun is shining and I really want to go flying. Landing at airports is so boring. I'll trade the Johnny Walker for Maker's.
 
Not long odds in doing it, learned that a long time ago. I flipped my lightly loaded PA-12 on 30” Airstreaks back in the early 80s going duck hunting with 4” snow on mudflats. Was testing the snow and was on my back in a plane length. I could of flown four people to Paris for a duck dinner and had extra money from what the repair cost was, and Boer props were $1k back then.


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I might trust fresh snow but nothing windblown. Too many hard and potentially soft spots for me.

Gary
 
Had a guy on tires buzz me while I was ready to depart a dry gravel access road NEXT TO a snow covered runway. He called and asked me how the runway was. I told him it was crusted and probably deep and that he should use the gravel road or the hiway like I did. I took off and he apparently touched down on the snow. I say "apparently" because the two other planes that were with him started yelling back and forth about how he was on his back.

I will echo what has been said here before, "snow is for skis."

Prop, motor, engine mount, nose bowl, spinner, fire wall, windshield, wing struts, rudder, repair and recover wings....One nose over will make a guy wish he dropped the coin on those retracts.
 
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29s and “a couple of inches”? I don‘t care what the texture is. No problem. One of my first flights in my -12 was in 3-4” with a frozen crust on 31s. I got questioned about it. I didn’t think much about it. Not a big deal. The day Crash rolled out his 180hp upgraded Cub he landed in front of my cabin on 4” of gooey mashed potato snow. I couldn’t believe he did it. We had a great party later that night. Gabe may remember that one. One of many. Good times.
 
29s and “a couple of inches”? I don‘t care what the texture is. No problem. One of my first flights in my -12 was in 3-4” with a frozen crust on 31s. I got questioned about it. I didn’t think much about it. Not a big deal. The day Crash rolled out his 180hp upgraded Cub he landed in front of my cabin on 4” of gooey mashed potato snow. I couldn’t believe he did it. We had a great party later that night. Gabe may remember that one. One of many. Good times.

Kinda depends what’s under the snow. If hard frozen ground it’s one thing, if it’s water saturated unfroze inlet mud, you can’t tell how soft it is with snow over it. That’s what happened to me. I don’t like telling people to land on wheels in snow because you really can’t tell how deep or soft it is from the air, and don’t know peoples skill sets and reaction times. No doubt you and Crash I would have both. If you’ve walked landing area first it’s whole different ball game. Saw a friend land a fully loaded 206 in 18” of dry powder but he knew what it was first. Nice reminiscing about you and Greg.


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One day my group got back from a long ride. No tracks in the yard. There was a bottle of red wine on the corner of my deck. Everybody was confused. Greg. He landed on the creek and left a calling card. He showed up later (on a snowgo) to help drink it. Yep, good times. Great memories.
 
If you want to read a story so full of BS it's unreal, someone gave me a book written by Mort Mason��
One story in there features him flying across Cook
Inlet and landing in 2 FEET of wet snow in a TriPacer!
He had two passengers and was stranded.........ok
But shortly a Super Cub buddy shows up on skis and flys out his passengers? Ok guess that's possible, But then Mort says he hops into his Tri-Pacer and with his ultimate
skill as a seasoned pilot ( uh har) he is able to coax the old Pacer out of 2ft of wet snow and beat the Cub back to Los
⚓. Anchorage......... So if you are into fairytale's there is a good one........ We used to fly out of 6" of snow regularly on 31" tires, and up to a foot IF it was bone dry powder, but even then you needed to roll one tires out to accelerate up to flying speed.
Of course Mort with his 6:00x6 tires and the 74x56 prop
could do things an ordinary mortal pilot couldn't do with a TurboBeaver on Otter tires........
Right.
E
 
Time to link to this again....landing wasn't the problem, taking off was. Luckily he had an experienced ski pilot to come bail him out (even luckier that the other pilot happened to be home and not otherwise occupied, or having an end of the day beer, would have been a cold night). https://youtu.be/ycv2GDm2DOo The two pilots differed widely in age and experience apparently.
 
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Yeah, the guy in the ski plane is the real YouTube star. I wonder if he got his tiedowns back.


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Seems like every other year we get a plane on its nose or upside down on the ski strip at Birchwood. Some very experienced pilots that know better.
DENNY
 
Time to link to this again....landing wasn't the problem, taking off was. Luckily he had an experienced ski pilot to come bail him out (even luckier that the other pilot happened to be home and not otherwise occupied, or having an end of the day beer, would have been a cold night). https://youtu.be/ycv2GDm2DOo The two pilots differed widely in age and experience apparently.

Courierguy,
me being an avid snowmobieler and A kifox builder in my younger years, I like that video a lot. A good way to ride double on the snowmobile in challenging terrain, "the throttle is mine, the brake is yours".
 
I launched a skyhawk in 7” powder, came back in a couple hours with a invisible 4” of slush under.
Felt like a carrier landing. Would have nosed over the Cub.


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I landed a mostly bare gravel road yesterday, with a pretty good drift in one section. I was on the wheels with the Datum retracts, and just as I rolled thru the drift I remembered I didn't have my usual 29" Airstreaks on but the little 6:00's...no problem. Besides, the Datum's will still kind of of work even if one stupidly lands in deep snow with the wheels down, though the snow drag is enough to make a takeoff problematic, but it does make for real short landings!
 
Well, not going to worry about it anymore. Forecasting 14 inches of snow this week. Need to get the snow blower ready.
 
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IT WAS SOFT non PACKING SNOW 5 MILES AWAY. Stop really fast! The snow was about 8-12" if real good snowman snow.

That really sucked unhooking the seat belt while upside down.
 

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Ouch Doug, that sucks!

yep sure did!
March 2015 back flying August 1st 2015 1500 hours ago. Learned a lot about snow n Soft Field landings. CG can play a big part in it too.
Just a caution to you snow fliers with wheels.
Be Safe. Enjoy your flying and learn from others.
 
Rope from the tailspring and a few GOOD men. Been there, not my plane then.
 
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