B747forever
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Hardest To Land: In Water Or On Ground?

Wed Mar 12, 2008 5:54 pm

Hopefully I post this in the right forum, otherwise I am really sorry.


I am just curious, on which surface, water or ground, it is hardest to land on and why.


Hopefully there is someone that can answer my question.
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wilco737
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RE: Hardest To Land: In Water Or On Ground?

Wed Mar 12, 2008 5:57 pm

I guess you mean: landing with an aircraft with tyres on ground and one with floating thingys landing on water, right?

I've never been on a floating aircraft which is able to land on water....

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A320ajm
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RE: Hardest To Land: In Water Or On Ground?

Wed Mar 12, 2008 6:19 pm

Ive been on both types of aircraft. Landing on water is more bumpy (although softer) over a longer distance but on the ground it is just like one hard bounce. This is only through my experience though.
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B747forever
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RE: Hardest To Land: In Water Or On Ground?

Wed Mar 12, 2008 6:19 pm



Quoting WILCO737 (Reply 1):
I guess you mean: landing with an aircraft with tyres on ground and one with floating thingys landing on water, right

Yepp, that is what I mean.
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BoeingOnFinal
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RE: Hardest To Land: In Water Or On Ground?

Wed Mar 12, 2008 6:30 pm

Although without experience on water, I've heard and read that landing on water is often more tricky. Height reference can be very hard on calm days with flat and reflective water below.
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RE: Hardest To Land: In Water Or On Ground?

Wed Mar 12, 2008 9:26 pm



Quoting BoeingOnFinal (Reply 4):
Although without experience on water, I've heard and read that landing on water is often more tricky. Height reference can be very hard on calm days with flat and reflective water below.

Being in the Maldives two years ago, and going to MLE nonstop with the 763 and then on the amazing DHC-6 on floats for a short 20 minute hop, i experienced two water landings.

The pilots there traditionally fly barefoot and when you ask them about it they tell you "So we can feel the Plane" Big grin

They do an amazing job, and before landing they do a low pass of the water checking for the direction of the current. Then they decide from what direction it is best to land in, of course with an eye on the wind. And on touchdown the bump was pretty damn hard, but i never experienced such a decelleration in my life! Amazing. If i remember correctly it was around 90kts we had on the airspeed indicator (got myself the first seat in the front and of course no cockpit door) and the moment the floats touched the water it was about 4 seconds and we were down the "taxi" speed to go to the little wood ramp to get on the boat.

Really was a great experience  Smile

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RE: Hardest To Land: In Water Or On Ground?

Wed Mar 12, 2008 9:58 pm

Should be Water.The Area may be more but the Surface would not be level,as on a Land Runway.
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B747forever
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RE: Hardest To Land: In Water Or On Ground?

Thu Mar 13, 2008 11:33 am

Thank you so much for all your answers guys.

Quoting Qantas744ER (Reply 5):
90kts we had on the airspeed indicator (got myself the first seat in the front and of course no cockpit door) and the moment the floats touched the water it was about 4 seconds and we were down the "taxi" speed

Wow, that is a really hard brake.
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BAE146QT
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RE: Hardest To Land: In Water Or On Ground?

Thu Mar 13, 2008 6:16 pm

I have only ever landed on grass (which is bad enough*) or tarmac, so have no practical experience of what you're asking, but common sense suggests that putting down on an infinitely variable and difficult-to-predict surface - like the sea usually is - should be more difficult. A lake might not be so bad in calm conditions, but then B-O-F says;

Quoting BoeingOnFinal (Reply 4):
Height reference can be very hard on calm days with flat and reflective water below.

Yes - I imagine that the reflectivity of calm water causes the horizon to disappear on a large enough body of water.

I seem to recall that helos have been lost in these circumstances, where a captain refused to believe what his AI and altimeter were telling him and ended up augering in while in transit.

An unkind person might call this "perfect pilot syndrome". Other might say it's a case of cognitive dissonance.



* But gives you a handy excuse when you bounce it!

.
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RE: Hardest To Land: In Water Or On Ground?

Thu Mar 13, 2008 10:14 pm

I've landed light single engine planes on land and water.

The conditions at the time of landing really determine which is more difficult.

On water, a nice smooth day with a little wind that adds some texture to the water, but no large waves with white caps feels about the same as landing on a paved runway, although the pilot must be sure to hold the elevators back during and after touchdown so that the floats will not dig into the water.
Wavy conditions present a new challenge, and pilots must use a rough water landing technique. This adds a new challenge because the plane must be slowed down in ground effect as much as possible just over the waves before touchdown in order to land as nose-high as practical to ensure that a float doesn't get buried by a wave and capsize the seaplane.
At the other end of the spectrum, calm conditions that give the water a glassy appearance are the most challenging and deceiving for seaplane pilots. They have probably caused the most accidents also. Height above glassy water can be difficult or impossible to judge, so a glassy technique must be used. Glassy water technique calls for pilots to aim for a solid visual reference, most often on the shoreline, and as they pass over it, they select a specified power setting and establish a slow descent with their instruments (and a slightly nose-up pitch attitude) and hold that until touchdown. This can sometimes take much more distance than a normal landing, depending on what type of visual reference point is used. Many seaplane pilots have wrecked their planes by not using a proper glassy water technique.
Confined area landings can also be interesting.
Submerged obstacles can also be a hazard for seaplane pilots, especially since they are often difficult to see.

Ignore rumors of one type of landing "always being rougher or smoother" than the other type also. I've had some equally smooth and rough touchdowns in water and on land. Stereotyping in this manner is invalid.

One nice thing about water landings though is that the pilot can often note the wind direction and choose to land with a direct headwind, avoiding crosswind situations. Designated water landing strips or confined areas can re-introduce crosswind situations though. River landings are also interesting, and in addition to preventing a direct headwind, the pilot must follow the path of the river to landing, and sometimes the bends of the river and the layout of the trees on the shoreline can cause interesting wind gusts that rapidly change speed and/or direction.

Water landings can be interesting, and they leave some room for creativity. They are very good for building stick and rudder skills. Landing on solid ground leaves a little more margin for error, and if the pilot finds himself in a bounce or porpoise, then he can go-around. Go-arounds can also be executed for unfavorable approaches to water, but the pilot must be more cautious and plan ahead a little more because burying a float under the water can flip a seaplane end over end (ouch).

People often like to compare seaplane flying with tailwheel flying, but the two are completely different, although they both present their own sets of challenges that improve piloting skills.

Docking and taxiing in any wind can also be a challenge. Docking in particular can be tricky, and often challenges the experience and creativity of the seaplane pilot. But that's something an entirely different story.

Seaplane flying is alot of fun though!
 
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RE: Hardest To Land: In Water Or On Ground?

Wed Mar 26, 2008 4:29 pm

I have heard that landing on water is more difficult just because it is allot harder to gauge the distance from its surface, especially if it is pretty clear.
 
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RE: Hardest To Land: In Water Or On Ground?

Wed Mar 26, 2008 4:49 pm



Quoting Qantas744ER (Reply 5):
If i remember correctly it was around 90kts we had on the airspeed indicator (got myself the first seat in the front and of course no cockpit door) and the moment the floats touched the water it was about 4 seconds and we were down the "taxi" speed to go to the little wood ramp to get on the boat.

this one stops in half that time!!!

[edit post]
 
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RE: Hardest To Land: In Water Or On Ground?

Wed Mar 26, 2008 4:58 pm



Quoting BAe146QT (Reply 8):
I have only ever landed on grass (which is bad enough*)

Grass can present some interesting challenges. Soft/damp soil can be hazardous, yet not immediately apparent or obvious. Wet grass (covered in morning dew, for example) can be extremely slick. I know a very experienced, disciplined pilot who underestimated this and slid a Beechcraft Debonair sideways for some distance down a wet, grassy runway. Fortunately, both he and the aircraft were fine. Also, a single woodchuck with strong NIMBY tendencies can ruin your whole day.

Grass runways present some benefits, too. Tailwheel airplanes can exhibit more forgiving landing characteristics when the runway surface allows the tires to slide a bit from one side to another, rather than biting in to concrete.

I once took a CFI buddy up with me for landing practice on a grass strip. The runway hadn't been mowed for a few weeks, so dandelions were sticking up about 8 inches high, all over the strip. I discovered that keeping the window open allowed me to hear the dandelion heads smack the tires just before touchdown, and used this sound to perfectly judge my flare and absolutely grease each and every landing. My buddy was extremely impressed with my incredible landings, and I enjoyed letting him believe they were indicative of my superior airmanship.

Regarding the original question about water versus ground, I'd wager the most challenging landings occur when the pilot attempts to place a carrier between himself and the water.

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RE: Hardest To Land: In Water Or On Ground?

Wed Mar 26, 2008 11:49 pm



Quoting ArniePie (Reply 11):
this one stops in half that time!!!

That's the guaranteed outcome when landing an amphibious plane on water with the wheels down. Even worse than landing a land plane on land with the gear up. Landing on water is far more difficult and hazardous than on land; if you don't believe it just compare insurance rates. Seaplane insurance is astronomically expensive. My seaplane experience was as a passenger on an Albatross on Moosehead Lake in Maine; one of the most memorable experiences of my life. We ended up participating in a for-real rescue mission when we came across a couple on a capsized boat quite a ways from shore. This was in 1999, I believe, and a few months later Flying magazine had a sidebar about it.
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RE: Hardest To Land: In Water Or On Ground?

Thu Mar 27, 2008 1:44 am

Quoting BoeingOnFinal (Reply 4):
I've heard and read that landing on water is often more tricky. Height reference can be very hard on calm days with flat and reflective water below.

Exactly, there are some light conditions you definately don't want to be wearing polarized sunglasses. It makes it nearly impossible to judge your height.

Quoting ArniePie (Reply 11):
this one stops in half that time!!!

A perfect example of why you don't lower the gear for a water landing. It looks like he had his only partially retracted when he came in. Still he was lucky, if he had done that in a goose he more then likely would have ripped the plane in two.

[Edited 2008-03-26 18:45:07]
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RE: Hardest To Land: In Water Or On Ground?

Sun Mar 30, 2008 6:37 pm



Quoting 2H4 (Reply 12):
Grass can present some interesting challenges. Soft/damp soil can be hazardous, yet not immediately apparent or obvious.

Thank you for the response, 2H4. I've been away awhile and am just catching up.

Quoting 2H4 (Reply 12):
I know a very experienced, disciplined pilot who underestimated this and slid a Beechcraft Debonair sideways for some distance down a wet, grassy runway. Fortunately, both he and the aircraft were fine.

I've never had anything other than instructor-led landings on damp grass, but logic suggests to me that he was lucky that the wheels didn't suddenly gain traction and flick the aircraft over onto its wing.
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RE: Hardest To Land: In Water Or On Ground?

Sun Mar 30, 2008 11:14 pm



Quoting 2H4 (Reply 12):
Soft/damp soil can be hazardous, yet not immediately apparent or obvious.

I remember when I was flying down at Grand Forks I did a training flight one day in the spring and emergency landings where on the sylabus. I really freaked out my instructor by telling him that I didn't consider one of the sugar beet fields that we where flying over as suitable for an emergency landing. You could see standing water in all the furrows, so you know it was soft and if you actually had to sit down there you would end up flipping the aircraft.

Alaska is the same way, you never look for an open grassy area because 9 times out of ten it will be a soft swamp or muskeg. That is how we captured the first intact zero in wwii up here. The pilot had to set down due to combat damage from the bombing of Dutch Harbor. He attempted a gear down emergency landing in the swamp and flipped the airplane, breaking his neck.
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RE: Hardest To Land: In Water Or On Ground?

Mon Mar 31, 2008 1:13 am



Quoting Qantas744ER (Reply 5):
And on touchdown the bump was pretty damn hard, but i never experienced such a decelleration in my life! Amazing. If i remember correctly it was around 90kts we had on the airspeed indicator (got myself the first seat in the front and of course no cockpit door) and the moment the floats touched the water it was about 4 seconds and we were down the "taxi" speed to go to the little wood ramp to get on the boat.

So true. I've dont about 7 or 8 in a DHC-6-300 twin otter with Seaborne out of STT. The thing stops on a dime and there is no sound quite like the floats rushing through the water and the blades in reverse!
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