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Monday, April 11, 2011

It not so much glides, as what's the word - "Plummets"

2nd flight with dual instruction in the Rocket, and from the start I feel much more in control.  I still fumble for the right lever once in a while, but now I know what it is that I'm trying to accomplish, and generally how to get there.  After a few landings and take offs (no touch and goes in a Bonanza) at Majors in Greenville, we climb to 5,500 feet, and away from the airfield, I pull back the power for a simulated emergency landing.

Plummeting is an appropriate word for what happens next.  I pulled up the nose to slow down to best glide (105 kts), and we slowed down like landing in a sandtrap.  Then, I had to push the nose waaaayyyy down to stay at 105kts.  Loosing altitude at around 1,000 ft/min, twice as fast as a Sundowner, I thought I'd better find a suitable field fast.  One was about about 2 miles off my right wing, so I made a 90 degree right turn.

By the time I was over the field, we were down to 2,000 ft AGL.  I kept the downwind tight, and turned 180 degrees to final, but I was so close I couldn't get all the way round in time.  I came in on final with just enough distance to make my field, then down came the gear.  ooppsss!  Another 500 ft/min to add to the already scary descent rate, and I realized I would not make it!

With a windshield full of wire fencing and shrubs, I added power to climb again, and pulled up the gear.  We would have survived, but the airplane would have been badly damaged by landing 1 field short.

Lessons?  A Bonanza doesn't glide, it plummets.  It doubly-plummets with the wheels down.  It loses a lot of altitude in a turn.  So try and go straight, and if you must turn, make it tight and fast.  Get over your field and stay there in a spiral, because if you leave to set up a normal square pattern, you probably won't make it back.  And keep some speed in hand in case you need to pull up over an obstacle on the ground.

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