Soft Landings

Watch the video the video below before clicking MARK COMPLETE.

The Technique:

The idea here is the same as in a nosewheel airplane, keep the weight on the wings and off the wheels.  Now if you’re operating on more than just a soft field (for example a soft beach with rocks), you may want to consider trying to “protect” the tailwheel on the landing rollout while still keeping as much weight on the wing as possible.  The end of this video shows the technique or using just enough forward pressure to take the weight off the tailwheel on rollout to protect it from digging into very soft sand or mud, or getting knocked about by medium to large size rocks.  If you are just landing on a semi-soft grass runway or there is not a need to “protect the tailwheel” then you may consider letting the tail settle to the ground as soon as possible after touchdown and letting it stay there (not “pinning” it down, but rather just using neutral elevator so it stays on the ground with enough weight to give good traction but not so much weight it digs into soft ground and gets stuck).

Note: on truly soft runways or landing areas, your mains will “bite” somewhat on touchdown.  This will automatically make the tail want to rise slightly as the aircraft is slowed by friction on the mains, which can be helpful if you make your approach as illustrated in the video, as a three-point landing, knowing that the tailwheel will be lifted just above the mud (or soft grass or sand or whatever) right as the mains touch.

If you have any questions from this lesson or previous lessons, ask our CFIs by posting your question here.