Great New Article On Fire Starting Over At BCP…January 22, 2016
I wrote a blog post the other day about the height off the deck of my prop when in flight attitude. The measurement was interesting with respect to how much clearance you have for a “tail up taxi.”
There was a lot of, “I would never,” and “this and that are stupid…” and “I don’t go outside because I’m afraid of traffic…” I guess what was disappointing was seeing the narrow mindedness of some opinions clouding point that I was trying to make. To me, as a low time tail wheel pilot, and an even LOWER back country pilot, this was interesting data. Data that would be good for all of us to keep in the backs of our heads.
When I was learning to fly tail, I did a number of high speed taxi exercises from one end of the numbers to the other. In fact I still do it. Keeps me sharp. When I started landing in the grass and was bouncing the hell all over the place, I would often cringe thinking that the wheel landing was going to bugger the prop. My instructor kept saying, “don’t worry…plenty of room.”
As the hook sunk deeper and I started aspiring to operate in the really rough, my questions again came to the surface… How much clearance did I had between bushes, bumps, berms etc… How tall was too tall?
With the C170 project, I gained quite a bit of height adding the larger tires and C180 gear. When I transferred the tires over to the Skywagon, I grabbed a before and after measurement, and in going from 6.00×6 to the 8.5x10s, I gained 5 inches over stock at the axles, with a total 3 point deck to prop clearance of 30″. But what about the wheel landing? How much clearance then?
A weight and balance on a tail dragger is a perfect time to grab this measurement. As it’s already in flight attitude, all you have to do is run the tape. In my case, leveled out as if in a perfect wheel landing, I had 18″ from deck to prop tip.
Now I know that taxiing around with the tail up could, by some, be seen as courting disaster. There are several vids on the web with guys digging holes in the tarmac with their props after showing off, but for every one of those, there are ten of a TW pilot looping his airplane simply trying to land. Net net… Flying is dangerous. But that wasn’t the point of my post. The point of the post was to open one’s mind to the outside parameters of the “safe zone.”
Getting as much data about your machine and your flying helps you become a better pilot. Thinking outside the box, at least in principle, helps us become better. And better, makes us safer, and thereby allowing us to have more fun.
And if you taxi every once and a while with your tail up and crack a bit of a smile… Well maybe that’s ok too.
Saw this last night. Pretty cool.
I can officially report that they are wankers and obviously just wrote that it would fit and never did any testing. Lightspeed headset will NOT fit inside the helmet.
It seems like a nice helmet with some pretty different styling changes over the A-Alpha, but I didn’t order it for the new look, I ordered it cuz I wanted to wear it with my Lightspeed headset, and they lied. Waste of time and $$$. Sending it back.
Along with the helmet, pretty much every time I go flying, I have been trying to wear this Nomex shirt I picked up from Gibson & Barnes. Its basically the exact same cut as their military flight suits, but just the top. Overall, it’s comfy and has a nice fit.
I found the Gibson & Barnes build quality to be top notch with hefty zippers and nice stitching. The chest pockets are nice and large and can be zipped real easy with one hand.
Pretty much all my outdoor clothing in the past has been synthetic, but I make it a point to wear only cotton (merino wool is great) and don’t wear any synthetic jackets. Wearing a complete flight suit was a stretch for me, so this top was a good compromise. I may order up a pair of pants, but I am still studying the geek-o-meter.
I know a lot of the more “seasoned” pilots might roll their eyes, and I suppose I get some goofy looks from others on the field, but since I am trying to push the edges (at least for my comfort level) I really just don’t care. Safety first…
My last post RE: clothespins really got some interesting debate started on the Backcountry Pilot site. Some think NEVER switch the fuel off. Some leave it on just one tank, and yet more see no issues with shutting the fuel off.
In my C170, and now in the C180, I try to be extreamly vigilant with my checklists and have listed “fuel on both” in many places. I flip the selector to one side or the other to prevent cross-feed, and now add the clothespin as a memory aid to remind me to switch to both even before the checklist is out.
The fact is we are human, and humans can be pretty damn stupid from time to time. I certainly am no where near an expert on what is right and what is not… but the debate leaves food for thought.
Finished the Cessna Seat Stop install today. Works way better than the antiquated Cessna seat lock that used to be installed in the C180. As I mentioned earlier, if you have an appropriate airplane and haven’t taken advantage of Cessna’s free deal, do it before they change their minds, run out of stock, or run out of $$$. Will cost you nuthin.
If you can put ego aside, it really is kind of a cool debate. We of course see them in all facets of our life. Bicycles, kite surfing, skiing, motorsports, they are everywhere. If you fly for Uncle Sam in any way shape or form, you of course have been wearing them for a long time. The big question is why the hell does a helmet in a GA aircraft stir so much debate?
All I can say is that for me, it seemed like a cool idea, and as soon as I started flying tail wheel and trying to get the airplane into shorter grass strips, I figured – what the hell and bought a ProTec A Alpha helmet. This helmet is used in military applications and the half shell iteration has reliefs for earphones. The David Clark ANR headset fits perfectly inside the helmet, is light, super comfy, and works great.
I did find a few small problems though. First, it was a bit of a pain putting the headset on first and then the helmet over. To solve this problem, I drilled two small holes in the sides and just zip tied the headset to the helmet. Worked great.
Second, the A Alpha really only worked well with my David Clarks. This past summer at Airventure, I bought a ultra comfy set of Lightspeed Zulu 2’s. I was pumped to swap em into the helmet, but when I tried, I found that they would just not fit.
A third problem (and probably the biggest) I found with wearing a helmet is with a passenger. Its probably not a good idea when you have your buddy, wife, or girlfriend, hop in the pax seat, then toss em your ratty old head set (the one you had before you got your nice ANRs) while you buckle the chin strap on your helmet. Not a confidence booster…
Anyway… If I was going to be wearing the helmet, I would have to bite the bullet and get a second, and after reading the helmet thread on the BCP board, I found myself down the internet rabbit hole once more learning that the A Alpha has now been updated and a new A Bravo has replaced it.
In the fine tradition of having the passenger use your “old” stuff, I went ahead and ordered a new XXL (they tend to run small) version of the ProTec A Bravo Half Shell Helmet. I ordered my last helmet from Protechelmet.com and found really great service and quick shipping. The literature claims it fits for Peltor, Bose, Sordin, LightSpeed, and Dave Clark head sets, so I have my fingers crossed. Hopefully the Zulu’s will fit in the updated version leaving my A Alpha and ANR DC’s for the pax.