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Landing a pitts on grass

Posted By:
Ron Pearson
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#1 Posted: 6/17/2011 14:03:28

For you pitts owners out there or thoes of you who know about pitts air craft.  Can you land a pitts on a grass strip without taking a risk of ruining your plane.  How long should the strip be for a relativly low time pilot just starting to fly a pitts.  I am looking for hangar space and it is turning out to be a major hurtle but if I can go to grass strips it will open up alot of other possibilities.



Ingolfur Jonsson
IAC MemberHomebuilder or Craftsman
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#2 Posted: 6/17/2011 18:19:10 Modified: 6/17/2011 18:21:00

It´s actually much easier and better in all ways to land the Pitts on grass strips than paved ones.  I used to operate a Pitts S2-B out of 1650 feet grass strip with no problems, I just had to be careful not to let it float down 1/3 the length of the runway before it touched down.  In calm wind I was able to land it and use somewhere between 1/2 - 2/3 of the available length with two persons on board.  The Pitts S-1 would probably require less length. 

If you are not used to the Pitts, I would recommend you have an experienced Pitts pilot do touch and goes with you in a S-2 at the strip in question until you feel comfortable.

 



Ron Pearson
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#3 Posted: 6/18/2011 19:01:30

That is excelent news, are grass strips sort of graded, as in quality of a grass strip.  I Would imagine the quality of the grass strip would have to be fairly decent because of the small tires and high approach and landing speeds.  I will look at my sectional and see what strips have land avalible but would be curious if there is some minimum grade and how to determine what is "good enough" to be safe and prevent damage.



Eric Sandifer
IAC Member
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#4 Posted: 6/20/2011 10:44:57

Ron, grass strips are not "graded" for quality. The airport database that the FAA maintains will often list turf strips as in "good", "fair", or "poor" condition, but this is subjective, unreliable, and not necessarily up-to-date. Pitts' do not have large tires, but they use a very common size among experiementals, including RVs. Just go to a strip and walk it. Any grass strip that is bad enough to actually damage a Pitts or cause real problems will likely not have ANY planes using it. Short of off-airport rough/tundra strips that require bushwheels, you should be OK. You'll find the biggest issue with grass strips, or imperfect grass strips, is that your wheel pants and gear legs can take a beating from the dirt, sand, and small rocks that can get blasted onto the plane by the prop. But this is essentially a cosmetic issue. Pitts' have very tough landing gear, and are hard to damage. Aside from that, you might just get a rough ride if the strip is bumpy. I land my Pitts on grass all the time.



Ron Pearson
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#5 Posted: 6/22/2011 14:09:26

I was talking to someone a few days ago that used to train in pitts air craft and he said that if the grass is even a little wet you would be hard pressed to land in 2000 ft with grass.  I seem to be getting all kinds of mixed opinions, I probably ought to reference the pitts S1-X POH.



Eric Sandifer
IAC Member
13
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#6 Posted: 6/24/2011 09:50:53

Ron, that depends on the pilot. Abilities run the gamut. Easily doable for some, not for others. Most Pitts S-1's are experimental, and there will be no "POH". I've got a factory S-1S, that contains some POH-like information, but takeoff and landing distances are not covered, and no POH deals with wet grass. This is something that your experience (once you start flying Pitts') will have to inform you on. I think there are a lot of little details you are concerned about that can only be addressed as you learn and gain experience. Your perspective will also shift, so don't be surprised if all the ideas you have right now about aircraft specifics and the type of aerobatics you want to do changes over time.

The best thing you can do right now is get as much tailwheel time as you can in anything you can get your hands on. When you are ready, just buy any solid S-1, get some Pitts training, and run as much gas through it as you can afford. You don't need 200+ HP or carbon fiber wings. I don't know of anybody who has ever built carbon fiber ribs and wing components for a Pitts. You're talking ground up re-engineering, which takes some high-level expertise and ability, not to mention $$$. If this was easy and cheap enough to correctly engineer/fabricate, and the performance gains were significant enough, it would have already been done. The top Pitts-like airshow acts involve custom-built wings by the best in the business, and they're all wood. You'll need a good bit of Pitts-specific skill and experience before being able to decide what kind of mods (if any) are truly worth it for you. Relax and enjoy the ride. It's not a destination, and you've just barely started. Good luck.



Freya Shiller
IAC Member
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#7 Posted: 6/27/2011 17:38:50

I fly an S2B out of 81D.  It's a 2000 foot grass strip South of Houston.  I can thank Bruce Bohannon for the excellent instruction.  It's a wonderful flying machine  and even as a high time pilot the learning curve was steep.   Get plenty of dual and enjoy the ride!



Freya