Airplane Yoke Control

Airplane yoke controlYes I know, never say never, but here goes anyway. Never push the yoke forward when near the ground. Sorry, but I just heard of yet another aircraft damaged on landing. Most likely caused by the pilot pushing the yoke forward after a bounce. The pilot reports that he bounced and he thinks he pushed the yoke forward. The next touchdown was hard enough to do damage. So now we have a damaged airplane and a damaged ego, both of which could have been prevented by not pushing the yoke forward.

During my aviation career, I have seen scores of events just like the one described above. The result being bent metal and needless expense. This problem often occurs when a pilot is too fast on a short field and tries to push the airplane on to the ground. This results in a series of bounces with each touchdown getting harder until he either runs out of energy or breaks something.

We as pilots need to remember that pushing the yoke forward when near the ground never results in anything good. That is, unless you are in a tail wheel aircraft and you are making a wheel landing. The airplane simply won’t land properly until it is out of energy and trying to force it on the runway can easily result in nose wheel damage. This has to be learned early and remembered often. If it is not taught in the beginning, it will bite a pilot over time.

In most cases the reason the airplane bounces in the first place is that the pilot let the airplane touchdown too fast. So don’t use more speed than necessary and then hold the airplane off. If you do get a bounce, the solution is to level the airplane off by relaxing enough back pressure to stop any climb, allow some airspeed to bleed off and wait for the airplane to settle on its own. This technique takes patience and runway. Of course the ultimate bounce recovery is to go around.

So why do we keep doing this stupid thing that costs all of us money in repairs or insurance premiums? It seems to me that man has an affinity with the ground since we spend so much time there. So I guess it is natural that when something goes wrong with the plane in the air, our reaction is to get it on the ground as fast as possible. We somehow feel that everything will be all right if we can just get on the ground. An old pilot I knew once told me “When man is frightened, he goes to the ground, when a bird is frightened, it goes to the air”. We should be more like the birds. Think about it, have you ever seen a bird with a broken nose wheel?

So if you think you might be a pusher, please get some dual instruction in bounce recovery and short field landing practice. It is an easy and common mistake to make.