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Thursday, March 18, 2021

Touching down IS the hardest part...

What’s Up
By LeRoy Cook

Is it March, or April? The sodden skies last week were more like the 4th month, even though we dealt with some 50 mph March wind gusts as well. Needless to say, flying was limited to a very few good times last week. A couple of Cessna 150 training missions went out, but that was about it. The B-2 bombers were heard but not seen, climbing out on their regular route over the Butler VORTAC.

Plans are going forward bravely for the major airshows, attempting to make up for the Covid-scared cancellations in 2020. Reasonable precautions are being taken to keep people unbunched and disinfected. A big outdoor venue like an airshow is a lot safer than being bunched up in a concert hall or sporting event. About one month from now the big East Coast show, Sun ‘n Fun, will kick off in Lakeland, Florida, where Northeners shed their big coats and redden themselves in the Florida sun.

The St. Joseph, MO airshow, with the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, will be held June 1 and 2. The Big One, EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, starts on July 26 and runs through August 1. Thus far, the lineup of events there looks pretty much normal. The Samaritan’s Purse emergency relief airplane, a DC-8 cargo plane, will be on display. We hope for better weather by then.

We often get asked “What’s the hardest thing about landing an airplane?” I’m tempted to answer “the asphalt” but that would flippant so I’ll say “getting the airplane as low and slow as you can.” Pilots tend to level off too high in their landing, fearing of touching down before they are ready, and if they don’t slow down sufficiently they’ll drop in from 3 or 5 feet up. The smoothest touchdowns come from a nose-high landing 6 inches off the runway. I tell them it was easier when we had a grass strip, ‘cause we could level off and feel the grass slapping the bottom of the tires.

Airline pilots, and Naval Aviators landing on aircraft carriers, know that you can land and get stopped in a short space, or land soft and gently. But you can’t do both at the same time. Hitting an exact landing spot with a fast jet means you can’t be nice; you just have to bang it on and stand on the brakes. Anyway, that’s my excuse for the rough landings I sometimes make; I’m just practicing for a spot landing.

Last week’s brain-teaser wanted to know the state in which Charles Lindbergh was born. It was Minnesota. I’ve been to the LindberghMuseum in his boyhood home, at Little Falls, and found that it was as much about his father, Charles Sr., a U.S. Congressman, as Lindy. Our question for next week is “with regard to electric airplane motors, how many horsepower are in a kilowatt?” Your answer can be sent to