This is a subject that only a week ago, I would have sworn was completely unnecessary to write! Or for that matter, even discuss. For the same reason, I’m finding it exceedingly difficult to write, since a pilot whose abilities we highly respect has apparently been teaching this maneuver in a manner completely opposite from most of us.
For several decades that I can remember, we’ve always done and/or taught them in a way that, according to this article, is completely wrong and – to quote, “the worst of both worlds”. I.e., a power off, tail low touchdown. Well, maybe – and then again – maybe not. All I know is what we’ve always done in Champs, Mustangs, DC-3’s, Corsairs, Stearmans, T-6/SNJ, B-17’s, Twin Beeches, etc, etc. That was to make a power off, tail low landing if we made (or ended up with) a wheel landing. Lord knows that we’ve certainly done both kinds in our time. Some airplanes certainly lend themselves more to one kind than the other, for instance, I don’t want to be anywhere around – or even within a thousand miles – when someone attempts to three-point a DC-3. Conversely, the B-17 works exceedingly well with these, as does the F8F Bearcat. Matter of fact, I don’t think that I’ve ever made anything but a three-point landing (or takeoff either, for that matter) in the Bearcat. I do know that when I check someone out in a Grumman F6F Hellcat, I go to great pains to make absolutely sure that he understands that he must never – ever – apply forward stick if he bounces. Either go-around if it’s high enough to concern you, or else just touch down again and keep that stick back. Otherwise you’ll be buying a new Hellcat propeller! And they ain’t cheap these days! Tail low wheel landing or three-point landing – I really don’t care! Just so’s they never poke the nose down if they bounce!
Realizing that we can always learn something new, I’ve subsequently talked to people on at least three continents about this subject. All these pilots have been teaching and doing this for a l-o-n-g time, and have my utmost respect. Some have written extensively on many subjects – including this very one. Their backgrounds are both civil and military!
R. Sohn © 1999
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