zuutroy

Basing a J on Grass

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I know there have been plenty of grass threads in the past but I just wanted to get some opinions from more experienced Mooney pilots. I was away from my home airport for a while on extended maintenance and stopped paying for my parking space. Now I'm ready to return but they say they're not taking any based operators so I'm kind of homeless. There's no other tarmac within 90 mins drive  but a guy who runs a small farm strip has offered to let me stay there at no charge. Its 700 m (2300 ft) and pretty flat with little in the way of obstructions at either end and the ground is free from holes and dry along most of it.

You can look at on Google Maps here.

Do you think it's safe/feasible to fly out of here for a while? 

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Somewhere is better than nowhere.  The length would bother me, but I'll admit that I'm not very proficient with short fields.  Living in Ireland, I'll assume that density altitude is not usually an issue?

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It certainly looks nice on Google maps.  If it is convenient, why not ask to drive the field in a car or another aircraft?  If it is not too bumpy, take the Mooney in for a visit.  Here in the states, some grass strips can be smoother than pavement, others are only for bush planes....  I suspect this one may be Mooney friendly, but you need to get eyes on it.  Ask the owner what other types operate there....

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Yea density alt is not an issue. Sea level and max temp 70f. Usually a 10kt westerly blowing too. I went there yesterday and it seems smooth and pretty dry for January. They mainly use 172s and Robins but he has had turbo arrows, saratogas, cirrus, and 182rg in and out of there. 

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Just practice some short and soft field takeoffs and landings at a longer paved strip to get comfortable prior to going.  Are you comfortable with those? 

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Well I was before the long mx layoff! I will do as you say before attempting to in there though. Used to be able to get her down on 600 m of tarmac without much fuss. 

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I know a J based on a grass strip.  I have landed my F there several times.   It's like landing on butter.

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I have minimal grass experience and none with my Mooney. Build in some buffers for risk mitigation - ie min weight on wheels, no more than 1 pax,  precise speed control, etc. 

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I’m not familiar with aircraft insurance in Ireland, but you may want to check for any prohibitions against landing on non paved or “unimproved” surfaces by your policy, if applicable.

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From the picture this appears to be a very well manicured grass strip with clean approach and departures, I would have no hesitation operating my F out of there.

Not having tall obstructions will make landing there a joy, there is nothing better than a good landing on a smooth grass runway.

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Hmmm, Navan, isn't that where Pierce Brosnan's from? Looks like a nice strip, but as others gave mentioned you may want to limit your gross weight for a while, until you are fully proficient on short fields.


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I based my first M20E at NC52 for several years. 3600 x 200 turf with power lines and trees. I liked being there except in the winter when the field got soft when wet. 

The E with a 74" prop has almost 10" clearance which is enough. Your J has inter main gear doors which the E does not have.    

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Most important...

1) your skills...

2) your ability to touch down, vs. smack the ground...

3) your ability to manage energy, land on the target vs. float 1k’...

4) got an AOAi... this would be a great opportunity for better energy control...

For videos of Bryan flying his M20C off short grass strips... YouTube has the videos...

Best regards,

-a-

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I have an F based at 3M5 which is 2200 ft grass strip, rising terrain and trees off one end, road and power lines off the other. 500ft elevation but summer temps cause density altitudes of up to several thousand feet. It is very doable, but there are additional considerations, as many have mentioned. De-rate your gross weight at least 200 lbs until you get comfy. Some measure of soft field takeoff technique likely needed. Must pull the plane off the runway before it wants to, or you never get to full/normal rotation speed due to rolling resistance. Grass helps slow you on landing once wheels touch, but must be disciplined about coming over the threshold at 80mph or you will float too far. You will have to be comfortable going around, it will happen. For this length on grass, mid-field is a good go/no-go decision point. If the wheels aren't off on take-off or down on landing by mid-field, then abort/go around.

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I used to visit a 2000' grass strip in my C, obstructed on one end. My limit was 2 people and half tanks. Now we go to a 3500' grass strip at the beach with a signficant displaced threshold when landing toward the water (almost 1000'). I have no trouble loading to gross and flying 3 hours to get there; leaving is also easy because they don't have fuel.

Best wishes, @zuutroy, and fly safe!

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My biggest worry would be that the Emerald Isle gets that color from copious amounts of rainfall. If there’s good drainage that’s OK, but the grass is going to be slick most of the time. 2300 isn’t bad, but it sucks out loud with minimal braking. That, and there’ll be no approaches to a farm strip, so you can’t get in in bad weather (of which there is presumably plenty in a place with “Emerald” in its moniker).  Moreover, to land 2300 feet in a J once in awhile is fun. I bet doing it all the time gets old quick.  And no airports nearby?  Near Dublin? Isn’t that like the capital or something?

What I’ve found about questions like this is the OP already knows the answer.

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Dublin Intl is available for the princely sum of €3000 per month :D

The GA airport is the one that won't take me back. There's 600 m (2000 ft) of tarmac at about 1 hr away which is also pretty expensive I believe, but I've emailed them. Ideal situation is the old base reverses their decision but we'll see how it goes. As for the drainage it's actually very good. I went there yesterday after overnight rain and the strip was still good and hard underfoot. I appreciate all of the comments.

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One stinking GA airport near the Capital? Sucks for you. I live in a State Capital, and we’ve got something like seven around here.

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Get anywhere near our capitol and you are welcomed by a Temporary flight restriction that is currently being controlled by unpaid federal employees...

The Mooney World is a paradise. :)

Best regards,

-a-

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I was just hypothesizing what would happen here if ATC privatization happened and the government / flow of contract money stopped.  Probably the controllers would be pink slipped and GA would be shuttered.  I’m glad we have our professional controllers.  Need to thank them next time I talk to them  

@zuutroy tell me Ireland doesn’t have the maze of controlled airspace and various a la carte services like in the UK/NATS.  Watching a bunch of YouTube videos recently about UK flying and  like a good way to kill of GA.  

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@bradp It's not too bad here. Dublin CTR is bigger than it needs to be but most of the county is class G up to 7500ft and C above that. There's no class A at GA accessible levels and controllers are usually very accommodating about zone transits. Also none of that 'request a service' stuff thankfully. 

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I've operated my J out of grass strips many times - a well-maintained grass strip can be preferable to pavement!  Just watch out when the grass is wet.  Even morning dew can substantially increase your takeoff roll and decrease braking effectiveness.

 

Enjoy, and be careful!

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2 hours ago, mikefox said:

I've operated my J out of grass strips many times - a well-maintained grass strip can be preferable to pavement!  Just watch out when the grass is wet.  Even morning dew can substantially increase your takeoff roll and decrease braking effectiveness.

 

Enjoy, and be careful!

I’m far from a turf expert. Never landed on wet grass.  Why does dew increase takeoff roll?

Edited by Shadrach

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Wet grass can increase the drag, especially if the grass is long.  I have seen some mountain flying handbooks and other info that recommend no takeoff if the grass is long and wet.  Landing roll will obviously be longer as braking effectiveness will diminish on wet grass.  I would not call myself an expert backcountry pilot either though I have some experience, enough to know to be careful (especially with an aircraft like the 20J)!

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