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IFlyVeryLittle
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Grass landing strips

Mon Mar 22, 2021 1:35 pm

I realize the early-days-of-aviation-romance of the grass landing strip and its quaint, throwback history but are they inherently more difficult to handle than pavement? Particularly, when dew covered or wet from a rain? I always imagined them as manicured as a golf fairway, but then I remembered how slippery wet fairways can be in a golf cart, driving at 20 mph, never mind landing a Cessna at four times the speed on tires roughly the same size. Ive never landed a plane on grass, but I have spun out my share of golf carts.
 
Flow2706
Posts: 296
Joined: Sat Jan 28, 2017 7:20 pm

Re: Grass landing strips

Mon Mar 22, 2021 2:27 pm

I have flown gliders for many years, mostly from Grass runways (they are still very common for gliders nowadays). Grass Runways are actually more "forgiving" than hard surface (for firm/hard landings). If the grass is mowed regularly it poses not particular challenges. Long grass can be critical as it can increase the takeoff distance and can be a contributing factor in ground loops.
 
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Starlionblue
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Re: Grass landing strips

Mon Mar 22, 2021 2:42 pm

IFlyVeryLittle wrote:
I realize the early-days-of-aviation-romance of the grass landing strip and its quaint, throwback history but are they inherently more difficult to handle than pavement? Particularly, when dew covered or wet from a rain? I always imagined them as manicured as a golf fairway, but then I remembered how slippery wet fairways can be in a golf cart, driving at 20 mph, never mind landing a Cessna at four times the speed on tires roughly the same size. Ive never landed a plane on grass, but I have spun out my share of golf carts.


A key difference is that a golf cart transfers power for locomotion through the wheels. An aircraft does not. Certainly a slippery surface has an effect, especially on braking, but the engine(s) provide forward impetus and this factor is unaffected by the runway friction coefficient.

Grass runways require some considerations. But definitely not as much of an impact as driving a car on ice versus dry asphalt.
"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots." - John Ringo
 
GalaxyFlyer
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Re: Grass landing strips

Mon Mar 22, 2021 2:52 pm

Flying taildragger off grass is a whole different deal than off asphalt—the forgiveness of slipping is great.
 
CanadianNorth
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Re: Grass landing strips

Mon Mar 22, 2021 7:33 pm

I've found them fine to operate on, never had an issue, though to be fair they've always been quite a bit bigger than I actually needed so there was lots of room to act if things started sliding.

The POH for my airplane mentions grass runways, but the only mention I know of is in the takeoff and landing section it says "For operation on a dry, grass runway, increase distances by 15% of the "ground roll" figure."
HS-748, like a 747 but better!
 
AntonioMartin
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Re: Grass landing strips

Mon Mar 22, 2021 8:26 pm

I was just wondering if there are any grass air fields with commercial airline ops....
 
CosmicCruiser
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Re: Grass landing strips

Mon Mar 22, 2021 11:19 pm

GalaxyFlyer wrote:
Flying taildragger off grass is a whole different deal than off asphalt—the forgiveness of slipping is great.


True. My J-3 was based on grass and all the tail wheel warbirds use the grass at Duxford 95% of the time
 
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glen
Posts: 361
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Re: Grass landing strips

Tue Mar 23, 2021 10:16 am

CosmicCruiser wrote:
GalaxyFlyer wrote:
Flying taildragger off grass is a whole different deal than off asphalt—the forgiveness of slipping is great.


True. My J-3 was based on grass and all the tail wheel warbirds use the grass at Duxford 95% of the time

Thats's the reason I always require a trainee to do quite some landings on concrete before Solo when they start flying taildraggers. Usually when they begin their training on grass, they think, it's not that big deal flying a taildragger. But with the first landing on concrete the fun begins...

Back to the topic question: Usually grass runways are not so well maintained like a golf course and the combination of the grass and the soft underground is quite considerable and adds al lot of drag.
However I remember an instance many years ago. I was landing on very well, golf course like maintained, fresh cut grass runway. Right before landing a short rainshower had wettened the grass, but was too short to soften the underground. The result was a very poor braking action and it was probably more luck than skill to keep the plane on the runway.
"The horizon of many people is a circle with zero radius which they call their point of view." - Albert Einstein
 
mxaxai
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Re: Grass landing strips

Tue Mar 23, 2021 11:37 am

I've seen a few larger aircraft get stuck on grass runways, usually WW2 warbirds, when the ground was wet and soft. If they're doing a tight turn or just standing there for a while, the gear can start digging a hole.

Similarly, in wet conditions you'll often find a lot of dirt on the aircraft after landing, thrown up by the main gear.

The surface is generally not as smooth as a golf course. You should expect some bumps and potholes. The grass is kept short, though.
 
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CARST
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Re: Grass landing strips

Tue Mar 23, 2021 3:25 pm

AntonioMartin wrote:
I was just wondering if there are any grass air fields with commercial airline ops....


If you look not only at Europe and North America, I'm sure you will find a quite a few grass runways in the world with commercial ops. Especially in remote areas, which are only reachable by aircraft. Perhaps no scheduled pax flights, but at least commercial ops for cargo, charter and business traffic, stuff like that...

Heck, we have Barra in Scotland, where the aircraft land on the beach at low tide. Multiple times daily. Since decades...
https://edition.cnn.com/travel/article/ ... index.html

And then there are all the gravel runways which basically turn into ice runways in Alaska and northern Canada which all see commercial ops. Even with the 737-200 to this date in 2021.

The ATR72 and 42 are certified for unpaved runways inlcuding grass runways AFAIK, so there will be some customers using these planes for such ops. Even the Pilatus PC-24 jet is certified for grass runways.
 
flipdewaf
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Re: Grass landing strips

Tue Mar 23, 2021 4:45 pm

I seem to remember with one of my instructors that when we flew in to a particular field (Full sutton) that the best course of action when taking off was to raise the nose gear off slightly ASAP on takeoff as the drag on the grass on the nose wheel was more than the additional drag from a few degrees of AoA. I seem to remember as well being told "As long as you'll make it over the hedge at the end, don't worry about climbing too much, its better to try and get some speed"

Fred
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N1120A
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Re: Grass landing strips

Tue Mar 23, 2021 9:24 pm

Taildragger pilots often prefer grass to asphalt, as it is more forgiving and less likely to lead to a ground loop if you are too fast. Some tricycle gear aircraft handle grass better than others, usually because of ground clearance.
Mangeons les French fries, mais surtout pratiquons avec fierte le French kiss
 
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Starlionblue
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Re: Grass landing strips

Wed Mar 24, 2021 1:50 am

AntonioMartin wrote:
I was just wondering if there are any grass air fields with commercial airline ops....


Indonesia would like a word. :D

Image
"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots." - John Ringo
 
AntonioMartin
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Joined: Thu Jul 27, 2017 11:58 am

Re: Grass landing strips

Wed Mar 24, 2021 12:19 pm

Starlionblue wrote:
AntonioMartin wrote:
I was just wondering if there are any grass air fields with commercial airline ops....


Indonesia would like a word. :D

Image

LOL...what airline is that??
 
AntonioMartin
Posts: 821
Joined: Thu Jul 27, 2017 11:58 am

Re: Grass landing strips

Wed Mar 24, 2021 12:21 pm

CARST wrote:
AntonioMartin wrote:
I was just wondering if there are any grass air fields with commercial airline ops....


If you look not only at Europe and North America, I'm sure you will find a quite a few grass runways in the world with commercial ops. Especially in remote areas, which are only reachable by aircraft. Perhaps no scheduled pax flights, but at least commercial ops for cargo, charter and business traffic, stuff like that...

Heck, we have Barra in Scotland, where the aircraft land on the beach at low tide. Multiple times daily. Since decades...
https://edition.cnn.com/travel/article/ ... index.html

And then there are all the gravel runways which basically turn into ice runways in Alaska and northern Canada which all see commercial ops. Even with the 737-200 to this date in 2021.

The ATR72 and 42 are certified for unpaved runways inlcuding grass runways AFAIK, so there will be some customers using these planes for such ops. Even the Pilatus PC-24 jet is certified for grass runways.

Oh yeah! I forgot those! Thanks for the info!!!
 
trijetsonly
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Joined: Tue Jul 21, 2009 10:38 pm

Re: Grass landing strips

Wed Mar 24, 2021 12:50 pm

AntonioMartin wrote:
Starlionblue wrote:
AntonioMartin wrote:
I was just wondering if there are any grass air fields with commercial airline ops....


Indonesia would like a word. :D

Image

LOL...what airline is that??


Famous Susi Air
They even have an awesome TV Show.
Happy Landings
 
chimborazo
Posts: 350
Joined: Sun Sep 25, 2011 7:51 pm

Re: Grass landing strips

Wed Mar 24, 2021 1:18 pm

flipdewaf wrote:
I seem to remember with one of my instructors that when we flew in to a particular field (Full sutton) that the best course of action when taking off was to raise the nose gear off slightly ASAP on takeoff as the drag on the grass on the nose wheel was more than the additional drag from a few degrees of AoA. I seem to remember as well being told "As long as you'll make it over the hedge at the end, don't worry about climbing too much, its better to try and get some speed"

Fred


That’s quite normal for short/soft field, although there are different techniques dependent model. I found the PA-28 works better by NOT using the column pulled all the way back as it’s such a big stabilator is has a large braking effect. 2 stage of flaps... Let it run (slowly as it does) up to 45kn then give it a yank to get the nose off the floor. And it really does need a yank on wet grass. Get it off the ground and accelerate before climbing. Whereas on a C172 you can do whatever you want... it just wants to leap off the ground, even when heavy.

I learned at Peterborough Sibson which really does teach short field technique - have a look at the displaced thresholds on 06/24 (and on 15 with its prerequisite hedge at the end of a 600m grass runway prone to water logging). The trees on the end of 24 are a delight when gusty, get some nice rollers off them and have to get the plane flying (up the hill and over the ski-ramp) then hold it there to accelerate well above stall speed before climbing. It’s good fun because despite the fact you are apparently heading for the trees you have to tell yourself the correct thing to do is build speed then climb.
 
AntonioMartin
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Joined: Thu Jul 27, 2017 11:58 am

Re: Grass landing strips

Wed Mar 24, 2021 6:45 pm

trijetsonly wrote:
AntonioMartin wrote:
Starlionblue wrote:

Indonesia would like a word. :D

Image

LOL...what airline is that??


Famous Susi Air
They even have an awesome TV Show.

Oh nice! Thanks for the info!!
 
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Starlionblue
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Joined: Fri Feb 27, 2004 9:54 pm

Re: Grass landing strips

Thu Mar 25, 2021 1:33 am

AntonioMartin wrote:
trijetsonly wrote:
AntonioMartin wrote:
LOL...what airline is that??


Famous Susi Air
They even have an awesome TV Show.

Oh nice! Thanks for the info!!


Most of the episodes are on YouTube. There's a bit of dramatic voiceover syndrome but interesting stuff. I've met a few pilots who've worked in the area and it is indeed as depicted.

Flying the Knife Edge by Matt McLaughlin is a good memoir on the subject. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/255 ... knife-edge

https://youtu.be/HT5gUKJidi0
"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots." - John Ringo
 
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seat55a
Posts: 245
Joined: Thu Jan 17, 2013 7:18 pm

Re: Grass landing strips

Thu Mar 25, 2021 6:50 am

Lots of grass field ops in Papua New Guinea on the youtube channel Missionary Bush Pilot. It's a busy operation with both pax and cargo using Quest Kodiak. Other aspects of the ops are interesting too, mix of old skool and high tech.
 
Chemist
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Joined: Tue Oct 20, 2015 4:46 am

Re: Grass landing strips

Sat Mar 27, 2021 11:30 pm

Missionary Bush Pilot's videos are really interesting and super high quality IMHO.
 
GayFA
Posts: 14
Joined: Mon Mar 22, 2021 7:30 pm

Re: Grass landing strips

Sun Mar 28, 2021 4:52 pm

Chemist wrote:
Missionary Bush Pilot's videos are really interesting and super high quality IMHO.


I agree. And very different in what you get to see about flying, from the single engine long overwater flight to Cairns with an ILS approach, to your typical mountain and jungle terrain visual approaches into very remote airfields.

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