Operate from 450 feet of grass?

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Georden

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Wondering what the options are for operating safely from a short grass strip.

I have 450 feet of flat ground to work with, aligned with the prevailing winds for the area. On each end I have about 50 feet of trees, approx 30-40 feet high. I'm ok with trimming the tops down to 20' or cutting down some of the taller ones if needed. After the trees on each end are open fields suitable for a safe forced landing. I'm about 100 feet above sea level.

Must have 2 seats and be able to lift 350 lbs from the described runway, would like a useful load of 550+ when operating from a longer strip. I would prefer an enclosed cabin for winter flying. Ideally i'd like to stay under 100hp, less is better. Aside from that it can be very basic, hand propping is acceptable.

It will be used for local recreationl flying, so flights can be restricted to favorable weather conditions. Speed isn't a priority, but it would be nice to cruise at 80+ mph.

I think that about sums up what I'm looking for. Ideally i'd like to hear from pilots who operate out of short strips in the real world vs manufacturer's claimed performance since it varies so much in the real world.

Thanks.
 

Georden

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Thanks for the reply, do you happen to know what kind of ground roll the storch would have on short grass? If it can be climbing at the claimed 1200fpm within 250 feet it should be able to clear the trees fine. Seems to hit all of the other requirements pretty well.
 

Victor Bravo

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Blane beat me to some of this already, but there are several airplanes that will do this mission, both experimental and certified. This list is off the top of my head, and is certainly not complete:

Certified category includes the Piper J-3-85/90, PA-11-90 and PA-18-90, and perhaps an older (lighter) Taylorcraft BC-12-85 upgraded to the Don Swords 100HP conversion.

Experimental options include the Just Aircraft SuperStol and Highlander series, the Zenair 701 with the Rotax 912 100HP, the Wag-Aero experimental replicas of the PA-11 and PA-18, some of the Avid Flyer/Kitfox line (models 3 and 4 as a guess), and several of the "ultralight style" LSA airplanes (Quicksilver and its many clones).

The big questions are:

How much money do you want to spend, either in one chunk or over time?
Are you interested in building a new airplane or restoring a classic airplane?
Do you want to buy something and fly tomorrow?
What materials and processes are you comfortable with (welding, wood, sheet metal, composite)?
What is your past and current flying experience?
How tall/wide/nimble/able/disabled/young/old are you and your passengers (to climb in and out of certain types of airplanes)?
 

Dana

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450' with clean approaches is doable for a lot of planes. 450' with trees at the ends is a whole other matter, requiring a capable plane, impeccable piloting skills, and leaving little room for error. Field elevation (density altitude will also be an important factor.
 

TFF

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Actually R44 with his specs. Ok R66.

A four seat plane fully loaded is what the weight suggests. What you put in the rear seats does not matter. Something like a 540 powered Bearhawk or a Big Back Country Cub. All the STOL videos are always one person and 5 gallons of fuel. Spectacular to watch but a little optimistic for lots of stuff. One person or with passenger with nothing else is 100 hp airplane. It’s not the ground roll if you could use 100% of the ground, but over just a fence knocks at least 100 ft + of landing zone, off the bat. Also remember these short landings and takeoffs are not low skill level actions. It’s actually at the higher end of skill that might take a couple of years of flying to develop if you are not doing this kind of flying right now.
 

Georden

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450' with clean approaches is doable for a lot of planes. 450' with trees at the ends is a whole other matter....
This the real issue. The cruise speed requirement is flexible, maybe even the enclosed cabin as long as it has a decent windscreen. The runway is what it is, and the budget doesn't allow for big horsepower, so i guess im searching for something very light with a big wing.
 

TFF

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You did have 550 in the first post. 350 would make two light people and ten gallons of gas. You have to pick the plane size for the bigger weight if you want to keep that option, though. If you were just going to accept the lighter weight as total, I would pitch one of the KitFoxs.
 

Dana

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The thing is, such a field might be doable but there's an element of risk. Do it once or twice, you'll probably get away with it if your doing skills are sharp. Do it often enough, you'll have an off day, or an unexpected gust will get you... there's just no margin for error. Not a good choice for regular operations.
 

Pops

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Very marginal . I flew off my neighbors farm 900' field for several years with my Falconar F-12, with one way in and out, and no go-around. Turn final, you are going to land one way or another.
I picked my days and conditions.

There is a grass field runway about 17 miles south of me that is 450' and also one way in and out with a 30 degree turn in the runway. Final is down a mountain side and over a road and trees and cross a creek. I go in and out with my SSSC. I pick my days and conditions.

I agree with Dana.
 

Georden

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The thing is, such a field might be doable but there's an element of risk. Do it once or twice, you'll probably get away with it if your doing skills are sharp. Do it often enough, you'll have an off day, or an unexpected gust will get you... there's just no margin for error. Not a good choice for regular operations.
Fair enough, if it isn't practical in a conventional plane, what about two seat ultralight? Gyro with pre rotator? It would be easy for any helicopter, but I'm trying to avoid the complexity and cost.
 

Dana

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Gyros can land anywhere, but ones I've seen have long takeoff rolls even with a prerotator. A gyro with jump capability would work but they're pretty rare.
 

blane.c

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The taller the trees the bigger the pucker factor. It'll take strong landing gear and a flexible backbone to get into 450ft over 40 ft trees and a lot of pucker factor. Most people haven't the nerve in reality, or have the nerve but no skill so then just a wreck. Obtaining the nerve and the skill requires time and money. It helps if you have spoilers, then when you clear tree line pull spoilers and drop like heck, ease out spoilers and flair. Take off is fine as long as engine don't sputter. The Storch has a lot of landing gear travel (absorption) and the descent angle can be disturbing to those used to "normal", it ain't normal except to a Storch.
 

TFF

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I had a friend with a RAF and it took longer to takeoff than his RV7. The smart gyro pilots leave it on the ground until it just won’t go faster. My friend got lucky. He tried to takeoff short and he did not have enough rotor rpm, and he was able to land it on the road in front of the airport. He could not get the rpm up once he got off the ground. To force it would have put him over a forest. He got smart and joined us with helicopters.

I have a friend with an Aircam. Without trying to do anything special it uses 300 ft taking off and 350 ft landing. This is at an airport. It will clear trees pretty quick you still need 700-800 ft of ground to clear the 50 ft tree. Usually the super short takeoffs put the plane in a precarious situation. The competitions are only about clearing the ground. The can fly the rest of the runway at 6” building speed if they need to.

The highlander gear is impressive. You can drop it in. For the nerds the Pegasar is interesting.
 

blane.c

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The thing is load. There are planes that'll do it empty, barely any gas, and you are naked. The more weight you put on it the less likelihood of success.
 
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