MAR 2015

Experimenter is a magazine created by EAA for people who build airplanes. We will report on amateur-built aircraft as well as ultralights and other light aircraft.

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Page 35 of 36

36 Vol.4 No.3 / March 2015 ULTRALIGHT WORLD IMAGINE THIS SCENARIO. You are cruising peacefully in a head- wind in level fl ight at 1,000 feet when the engine quits suddenly, and the best place to land is a 10-meter (32.8-foot) long spot directly under the airplane. That describes the fi rst two scoring boxes at recognized FAI-style engine-of landing contests for microlights (which covers what we call ultralights and light-sport aircraft). The nonpilot might think, how could you miss? Unfortunately all of our sport aircraft glide well enough with the engine stopped for a pilot unfamiliar with the test to mess it up. All pilots get some training for power-of landings. And certifi cated pilots are tested in periodic fl ight reviews, but we do it mostly at idle power with the engine still running for obvious safety reasons. Pilots naturally avoid actually turning of the one device on the airplane that enables most of what we do. That's where I was in 2002 when, through a series of very lucky events, I began a period of competition fl ying that led me to several national and world microlight championships. There were navigation tasks, along with fuel economy and speed tasks, but the classic deadstick landing with the engine stopped was sprinkled liberally through the contests. Competition fl ying was one of my greatest experiences because most of the top pilots were very helpful to newcomers and gave advice freely. They want newcomers to succeed, stay in the sport, and improve the level of competition. If I did well, I might also take some points away from their closest rivals. A week or two fl ying alongside the best pilots in the world pro- vided a cram course in fl ying technique. How can you not learn something from watching 75 dif erent pilots fl ying trikes and fi xed-wing aircraft complete a deadstick landing in a little more than a two-hour period? They don't stop for wind, turbulence, or light rain, either. Don't pass up an opportunity to attend a world microlight championship as a spectator, volunteer, team assistant, or if you are really lucky, a competing pilot. I learned that deadstick landings aren't nearly so dif cult once you know your aircraft and have a few simple tricks for hitting the target. It made me a safer pilot, gave me more confi - dence, and has provided a source of fun. Knowing with cer- tainty where you can land safely in an emergency widens your fl ying options. Every pilot who operates a powered aircraft also has a glider. There is no additional cost or extra hangar space needed. You only have to fl ip a switch to convert your aircraft to a glider. It really is fun and can be as safe as you want, if you're smart and control the conditions. DON'T CREATE AN EMERGENCY You don't have to stop the engine to practice deadstick land- ings. All of the important skills can be rehearsed much more safely at idle power settings. Eventually you must test for the dif erence between idle power and engine stopped, but that should be done very carefully in a safe environment. The dif erence cannot be predicted because there are too many variables. Flying speed, idle rpm, prop diameter and pitch, and presence of a clutch all have an infl uence. For what I fl ew with two-cycle Rotax engines, the glide was considerably shorter with the engine of . There was still some thrust when the idle rpm was set as recommended by Rotax. If idle rpm is set Deadstick Landing Secrets It's not a gliding contest BY DAN GRUNLOH U.S. Microlight World Team members gather around Steve Bensinger's CGS Hawk while watching the fi nal deadstick round at the 2003 World Microlight Championships in England. Left to right: Russ Hauser, Tom Gunnarson, Jon Jacobs, Steve Bensinger, and Dave Hempy. Dan Grunloh at Long Marston Airfi eld, Warwickshire, United Kingdom, in 2003. Photography courtesy of Dan Grunloh

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