Steve Martin
Steve Martin
Time to Reflect on 2009.....
Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Cutting Corn!

Sunday 3pm: off to collect eldest son Tom from a 750m farm strip in the West Country, I have not been there before so do thorough flight planning, drift, leg times, distance etc, and also look at google earth to get an idea of the strip. I also have photos of the strip. Its situated just above a steep escarpment on the south eastern side of the Somerset levels, two fields back from the brow. The wind was not favourable blowing up the escarpment & curling over and across the strip . Forecast was 15 kts gusting up to 27 kts. Get a brief from the farmer who flies off the strip and tells me a Cherokee is based there. Well if tricycle can do it so can Luscombe Silvaire! Flight down was uneventful and bang on the nose at the appropriate minute the strip came into sight : . Windsock was visible, no animals or walkers etc but cables at western end and trees beyond the next field at the eastern end. Looks ok but its not level and there is a definite uphill slope half way along which may be an advantage if landing from the east uphill. On this day it would mean accepting a slight tail wind, and bearing in mind I was going to land a bit faster than normal anyway, stiff x/wind, this slope will slow me down I hope, or at least that’s the theory!
The wind close to the ground proved stronger than expected, about 20 kts & buffeted TE on short finals. Gently, gently and I was down smoothly on terra firma. No time to dwell on this as the tail started to weather cock so keep power on to create airflow over the tail and pedal the rudder to straighten her up, full aileron & stick back,.. but the rudder authority wasn’t as good as normal (due I think to the a tailwind component) and we took a diagonal line towards the corn crop….urrrgh…use starb’d brake,…yes that helps, then another big gust of wind…this is definitely stronger than forecast! Slowing gradually helped by the uphill slope in the middle of the strip I come to a halt not 100m from the end hedge. Phew….TE is still not straight & with one wheel in the corn, prop cutting corn so shut down & turn her manually around. No damage done , re start & trundle down to the waiting party who luckily cant see beyond the hilly bit. I could have touched down earlier on the strip, but two undulations,  possible drainage?, at the start made me think to touch down beyond this point so I lost 150m there. The gusty winds turned out to be about 30kts. So that seems to be where I start loosing the rudder authority whose usefulness was further diminished by the tailwind component. Should I have come in from the other end with a slight head wind but with a down hill slope and cables in front on the far hedge?... no I don’t think so.
Perhaps I should have picked Tom up from Reading station or used my divert airfield?...but then how would I have gained that experience.. and there is always that slightly disillusioned feeling of regret when you want to fly but don’t. Its still a good strip but next time I’ll think twice about the wind now that I have done the adrenalin bit !.. …Farm strips can bite and this one nearly did!

Steve Martin posted @ 13:55 - Link - comments
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