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Commercial Accuracy Landings in an M20E (or C, F, G)


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Hi all,

     Well I’m getting close to 100 hrs in my new to me 1964 M20E.  I’m working on my commercial check ride prep in it.  So far the maneuvers are all going well and no problem except my accuracy landings.  Don’t get me wrong they aren’t bad...but it is just hard to nail the 100 ft and 200 ft limits every time.  I’m looking for tips and tricks especially for the power off 180.  The short field landings I can usually hit.  Biggest problem just seems to be that it’s an unpredictable float based on weight (solo vs dual), wind, etc that I can get off by one stripe or half a stripe etc.  I was also really taught not to force the landings much due to the low prop clearance in the E so I’m pretty careful with that.  In a Cessna I could force it a bit more.

Especially useful would be speeds near the threshold.  I’m usually coming in at about 75 to 80 mph when I’m dual with the instructor over the end of the runway.  This usually results in me hitting the 2nd or 3rd stripe on the short field landing.  The p off 180 I seem to float too much (too high and too fast) but it’s just hard to hit that 200 ft Mark reliably.

im debating trying to do a ton of landings this week and if I can’t get it down, to just switch to a 172 for the check ride as I think it would be a piece of cake comparatively.

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The 180 power off is all about energy management (just like flying a glider).  If you are high energy (high and fast), you can use slips and flaps to dissipate energy (I would not put in any flaps or at most TO flaps until you see what your energy state is).  If you are consistently high energy, you may want to fly further downwind to dissipate some energy.  If you find yourself with low energy, pulling the prop back makes a huge difference.

 

Iuse the same speeds as a normal landing.  The trick is knowing the aim point so the float will be predictable.  If you’re consistent (especially with speed), once in ground effect, the float will be consistent.  If you’re at idle for the accuracy landings, it should be the same as the 180s once you get to the flare.  I found the 180 power off landing the most demanding, but once you nail it, it is so gratifying.  Good luck!

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I’d recommend just trying 5mph slower over the threshold since you’re light.  It won’t float as much, but don’t expect that to completely solve it.  It’s really about consistency in energy management, aim point control/selection and some wind analysis. If you fly faster and it floats a bit more, you just need to take that into account on your aim point selection.  Are you very comfortable with the difference between “aim point” and “touchdown point”?  The difference between those depends on the wind, energy, and your configuration.  You should pick the aim point based on the wind well before you start the maneuver.  Then try to consistently hit airspeed and configurations.  If you’re consistent on airspeed and config but still off, adjust aim point slightly.  

If you’re slower over the numbers, probably want to make sure you’re at least t/o flaps.  

Finally, I usually don’t adjust flaps low to the ground, and you don’t want full flaps until you’re sure you’ll make it, but spot landing is easier slower, so full flaps probably help.  The last half of flaps is almost all drag.  At the point where you flare, you want as much drag on as possible.

Pro “trick” - not saying if this is good or bad, but some guys I worked with in small turboprops got really really good at nailing engine out landings.  At the end of the approach, they would use ground effect to make small adjustments.  If you dive down just a bit early and then level out just above the ground, you’ll have less drag due to ground effect.  If you stay a bit high longer and slow that extra 5 knots you talked about before ground effect you’ll end up shorter with much less float. Don’t try this first time on your checkride, but it’s fun to play with, especially diving down early and floating a long way on purpose.

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Since the target window is really tight...

1) When you practice solo... the extra 200LB passenger will make some difference...

2) You might consider adding some sand bag passengers for your practice flights...

3) Know all the brakes you have available...

  • Landing gear
  • Prop high rpm
  • Full flaps
  • Full slips
  • Speed brakes? (Not very effective at landing speeds or in ground affect)

4) Be ready to discuss how effective these devices were afterwards... why and how they work... engine compression can be a pretty strong brake...

5) Assessing the amount of energy you are carrying can be made a touch easier...

  • If you are into physics... it is a brief study of stored potential energy vs. kinetic energy... and dissipating it all in a timely fashion.... back out the losses due to friction and cross-winds.... :)
  • If you are not into memorizing and calculating... go the easy route... get an AOAi.... and keep an eye on the wind sock...
  • the AOAi automatically adjusts for having the change in cabin load.... and continuously let’s you know how much lift reserve you have...

6) Speed vs. time... if you are high... slow things down to gain more time to descend...  this points out the need to know everything about best glide speed, glide ratio, and the affect of weight on Vbg...  plus all the things you need to pull out to improve glide... or put in to increase braking...

7) Too fast usually turns into a float...

8) Too slow usually turns into a hard landing with the nose coming down extra hard...

9) Extra windy days will make things much more challenging... but the physics and discussion won’t change very much...

10) It really helps to know your stall speed of the day and weight... because this will be the speed when your landing has to occur before, sort of...  practicing slow flight in advance really helps with landing practice...

Nailing the landing, makes the discussion much shorter...

PP thoughts only, not a commercial pilot... or CFI...

Best regards,

-a-

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In my C, I find turning final at 85 mph and slowing toward the runway works well. My target over the fence (usually an imaginary fence) is 75 mph minus 5 mph for every 300 lb below gross for that landing.

Something I read about and tried one time watching a grass field float by me, was to raise the flaps (mine are electric). As the flaps came up, the back of the plane sat down and I was rolling through the grass. Otherwise it was time for throttle to go around and try again--it was just a 2000' field.

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Put that in the useful Lift Removal tool list....  :)

If you have electric gear... the lift removal tool can get confused with the gear lowering/raising tool...

That’s why they are funny shapes... wheel and flap for switch handles...

Best regards,

-a-

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So, I’m not recommending any particular method. I’ve been flying Moonyes for 35 years and I have over 5000 hours in Mooneys.

I took my commercial in 2016. The DE said he had never given a commercial check ride to someone with more than 5000 hours before. 
 

I ended up taking the check ride at night, just to make it more interesting.

Anyway, when we got back to the airport, I wasn’t even thinking about it, he says your engine just quit, where are you going to land? I said at the intersection of the runways. I was at Hillsboro Oregon, an airport I’m not that familiar with. He said that when I was on downwind and I had already put the gear down. After I pulled the power, he waited a few seconds and asked if I was going to put the gear up? I said “no, I’ll leave it down”. He gave me that okie dokie look... I turned base about 1/4 mile past the end of the runway then turned final. It looked like I would come up short, so I put the gear up. About 50 feet AGL, I put the gear back down. I held it off as long as I could and it settled to the ground right on the centerline stripe of the intersecting runway. The DE screamed “woo hoo” I didn’t think you were going to pull it off.

Don't ask me what speeds or altitudes were, I was just flying the plane.

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55 minutes ago, carusoam said:

Put that in the useful Lift Removal tool list....  :)

If you have electric gear... the lift removal tool can get confused with the gear lowering/raising tool...

That’s why they are funny shapes... wheel and flap for switch handles...

I can reach the flap switch while holding throttle to Idle; to reach the gear switch, I have to let go and reach to the top of the panel. 

Other brands can be more confusing . . .

Go Mooney! Go throttle quadrant! :D

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#1 if you know the place you'll be taking your check ride and doing the PO180's at, GO THERE and practice practice practice.  both runways, if possible.  different winds.  look for visual cue's on the ground you can use for your turns.

#2 some people have suggested a '10 count'.  pull power abeam your landing spot, count to 10, make your base turn.  this obviously has to be adjusted based on conditions, but it's a starting point.  works for some, may not work for others. also helps if you are doing the PO180 at a new location where you don't have those visual cue's picked out.

#3 this maneuver requires CONSTANT RE-EVALUATION.  slip a little, re-evaluate. notch o' flaps, re-evaluate.  "am I high, am I low, am I fast, am I slow", re-evaluate.  don't stop re-evaluating for the entire maneuver.  this includes in the flare. do NOT stop re-evaluating, and make the adjustments you need to make to correct it.

#4 for this maneuver I flew a TIGHT downwind and slightly faster than normal.  usually I'm 100mph on downwind, for the PO180 I flew it closer to 110.

#5 see #3.  

#6 there are plenty of other tips, but I'm not a CFI, although I should be :)

#7 oh, one more thing....tell your DPE to STFU for this maneuver.  I did.  I said basically starting on downwind, NO talking.  all you need is to start your 10 count and the DPE opens his mouth and you get sidetracked.  no exceptions, it's SHUTTY time.

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3 hours ago, Comet said:

The 180 power off is all about energy management (just like flying a glider).  

This is the correct answer it isn’t so much about speed, you don’t just hold 95 and it works out.  You just have to figure out how to bleed off and add back energy, takes practice. 

Edited by M20F
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21 minutes ago, M20F said:

This is the correct answer it isn’t so much about speed, you don’t just hold 95 and it works out.  You just have to figure out how to bleed off and add back energy, takes practice. 

I agree with this, but energy assessment is tougher with multiple variables (alt and speed). The way we did/taught this in the Air Force T-6 trainers for power off landing was to pick your aim point on downwind before or at the “power loss”, then you fly the airplane to that spot.  Aimpoint might be the numbers for touchdown 500-700’ down as an example.

No matter what, fly the airplane to impact that spot, then reference airspeed.  If it’s high or increasing, energy is high, use flaps or slip or extend the pattern a bit.  If airspeed is steady, hold off on drag.  If it’s low or decreasing, cut off the pattern to turn to the aim point (cut base short).  As long as the “impact point” was steady, airspeed was a solid clue for energy.

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Saying the same thing in a different way... possibly...

1) The 10 second rule... is the amount of real time required to recognize the situation you would be in, in real life...

2) Except you can be thinking for 10 seconds, before acting...

3) Turn towards the runway quickly, don’t wait any longer than needed... this minimizes getting too far away, and more energy loss doubling back...  Mooneys are great gliders... but not THAT good...  :)

4) gentle turns use up less energy, so if you can do a continuous 20° Bank... that would use less than a pair of 30° Banks...

5) Store as much energy as possible, then start hitting all the brakes as needed...

+1 for re-asses, re-asses, re-asses as often as possible....

 

As far as bringing a little extra energy with you on downwind goes...100kias in place of 90kias...  practice that too... another tool in the box... but, You probably don’t want to get caught sand bagging... :)

PP thoughts only...

Best regards,

-a-

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On 11/21/2020 at 6:29 PM, N201MKTurbo said:

Don't ask me what speeds or altitudes were, I was just flying the plane.

That.

It's all about consistency and energy management.  Try a descending U pattern.

1. pretty close in downwind.  I think runway is 2/3 out the wing.  downwind 1/2 a mile from the runway.

2.  At threshold I am usually still with speed on.  So pull up and get under the white arc.   Gear down.

3. throttle down engine and start a descending U pattern to the run way

4.  Add flaps as needed.  Don't do turns under 90 mph with flaps not extended.  Per the POH

Being competent at this maneuver probably saved the plane when I had the spark plug issue on take off.

 

Edited by Yetti
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I agree with everyone else that has mentioned not turning towards the runway too quickly.  Once I took a deep breath and rolled in slowly, the maneuver started coming together for me.  

Here's another piece of advice - if you can choose a left or right downwind, you can control your destiny a bit better, too.  If you continually float long, you can always pick the downwind side that has you into the wind on base so you can turn in a little earlier and control your rate of descent a little more finely.  

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7 hours ago, Yetti said:

2.  At threshold I am usually still with speed on.  So pull up and get under the white arc.   Gear down.

Just to make sure - not "at" but "abeam" threshold, right?

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On 11/21/2020 at 5:08 PM, Comet said:

The trick is knowing the aim point so the float will be predictable.  If you’re consistent (especially with speed), once in ground effect, the float will be consistent

This.
I do the same with short field landings. Get the configuration consistent and learn what the airplane does with it.  The added benefit is, if you are looking out the window, you also know what it looks like when it's right from base position onward which allows you to make the small adjustments needed due to changes in wind.

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Its not a simple maneuver but it is well worth learning well. Once you get the sight picture fixed in your head the maneuver gets a lot easier. Your first practice attempts you probably will find your self way high and needing to descend too fast, which creates a hard landing if you can't use power to soften it, or you are short. I found that distance to the airport was important. Too close and you either have to overbank to make the turns and line up on final, which causes too much altitude loss, or you have to make a 210 instead of a 180 and then a turn back to final, which also causes too much altitude loss. Too far and you won't make it. In my aircraft, and planning all the turns at best glide, it was .75 to 1 mile from the airport while in the pattern. Wind affects it obviously.

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Also may be good to learn here.  You can fly it on to the runway at 90mph.   It's not really a landing and you tear up brakes, but if you are trying to hit a certain point and you have learned where the tires and concrete intersect you can put the tires on gently at lots of different speeds.    Best way to learn this is on take off just sit there and look down the runway and memorize that sight picture.   Then when you come in just recreate that sight picture with a few degrees of nose up. and a very slow descent.  I tend to grab two wheels of trim right before the threshold which causes the controls to be very neutral or even nose up.   Since I am descending in energy at this point, the trim will change a bit more by the time of the concrete.   The nice thing about the descending U is everything is constant.   Decrease in energy is constant.  Turn rate is constant.    Usually land with half flaps.  Which get put in around the bottom of the U.   Full flaps if really messed the setup and are high or fast.

And then there was the last landing with crazy winds and hangars in the wind and other stuff and I just plopped on the runway and was happy to be down.

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The English language will never cease to surprise me. Then again, many aviation terms are rooted in the nautical phraseology, so I'll take "sailor" over "pedestrian" ;-)

I asked, because not being a native English speaker, I understand "at threshold" to mean "when passing over the threshold" as in "well past short final".

Thanks for the longer explanation.

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1 hour ago, tmo said:

The English language will never cease to surprise me. Then again, many aviation terms are rooted in the nautical phraseology, so I'll take "sailor" over "pedestrian" ;-)

I asked, because not being a native English speaker, I understand "at threshold" to mean "when passing over the threshold" as in "well past short final".

Thanks for the longer explanation.

My CFI was annoyed when I refereed to it as port and starboard.   

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tmo, you make English speaking look really natural!

Thought you might be from the UK, but living in Poland. :)

The funny part of aviation... many of our words come from the French... like Fuselage and airleron or empennage...

Best regards,

-a-

 

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On 11/22/2020 at 9:18 PM, Yetti said:

That.

It's all about consistency and energy management.  Try a descending U pattern.

1. pretty close in downwind.  I think runway is 2/3 out the wing.  downwind 1/2 a mile from the runway.

2.  At threshold I am usually still with speed on.  So pull up and get under the white arc.   Gear down.

3. throttle down engine and start a descending U pattern to the run way

4.  Add flaps as needed.  Don't do turns under 90 mph with flaps not extended.  Per the POH

Being competent at this maneuver probably saved the plane when I had the spark plug issue on take off.

 

I’m curious which POH recommends no turns under 90 without flaps?  What year and model?  

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