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Landing the RealAir Spitfire

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Guest Jimbofly

For those who are having difficulty landing the RealAir Spit, here's the technique I recommend:The first thing to remember is that the Spit will exhibit hard landing characteristics if the airspeed isn't controlled well on final. What I mean by that is that you may find yourself bouncing if you don't concentrate hard enough on the airspeed when "rounding out" just before touchdown.What I do when I bring it in is I make sure first and foremost that I don't cut the throttle to idle on approach. I prepare the approach such that I'm flying at about 160 mph when I drop the landing gear, then I allow the airspeed to drop a further 20 mph down to 140 mph on the approach. At this point I'm about 3-4 nautical miles from the runway.I'm still using power to control the actual glide profile whilst using pitch to control the airspeed. When I'm about 1 nautical mile from the runway I extend flaps and simultaneously drop the nose, as the flaps create a strong balooning effect on the Spit. The speed will continue to decline and you'll find that you only need to reduce the throttle a little bit, but it's still imperative that you don't cut it. You should get a nice view of the runway even whilst flying in VC mode (my fav view from the Spit).Now that you're on finals you need to slowly start pulling back on the stick, but only so that the nose pitches up about 1-2 degrees or so, to prevent ballooning. That way you'll still be descending at a comfortable rate towards the tarmac. As you settle over the runway make sure you keep an eye on the airspeed and that you don't drop below 110 mph.Now that you're about to touch down ensure that you "arrest" the descent by controlling the pitch (also known as "rounding out" the descent on taildragger aircraft) and keep your eyes on the runway or an object in the distance to ensure you don't deviate the course, as deviating is easy to do on an aircraft like the Spitfire with it's large cowl which can get in the way. It is at this point that you reduce the throttle to idle and simply control the descent with the aim of touching down as lightly as possible. It's important to not delay too long as the airspeed will quickly drop. When you do cut the throttle, ensure that you're only a few feet from the tarmac. The rest is down to skill in providing a gentle touchdown.Once you've touched down, you need to remember that your still flying the aircraft. Careful use of the controls to ensure the aircraft remains on the runway centerline (or as close as you can by judging the "triangle" of runway on both sides) and that the aircraft doesn't suddenly pitch back up by relaxing the elevator is imperative. Roll to a stop (or taxi).It's the technique I use that works for me and may not exactly match what the real pilots would've learned back in WWII, but I hope it helps. The only other tip I can provide is: PRACTISE!! There is no better way to learn to land than to do so several times every flight, each time attempting to make the next one better than the previous.Cheers,James

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With a "stick" :D and rudder pedals, I think this aircraft is about as fun as it gets, when landing a P/C simulation! It's a plane where landings & the V/C work together for the perfect effect.And as I replied previously, nearly all my Spit landings are successful, with little or no bounce, unless just not paying attention. L.Adamson

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Guest Dianne_S

Hi James,Thanks so much for posting this - very good advice. I really wonder how much the groud effect modeling in FS2004 (said to be very bad in the sim) affects the Realair Spit's landing characteristics. I fly with the same technique as you describe, holding power throughout the glide and roundout. Really, this is the only way I can make consistantly safe landings. I can practice other techniques and sometimes absolutely grease the Spit on (that sounds gross doesn't it haha) in a perfect 3 point attitude BUT not consistantly. I fly the Spitfire with the same premise taught to airline pilots - make consistantly safe landings rather than 'greasers' in which variation in technique or environment can quickly mitigate an otherwise safe touchdown and rollout.It would be cool if Dudley Henriques could elaborate on his experience in an actual Spitfire and how the limitations inherent in FS2004 should be interpolated in sim-vs-real world techniques for flaring and touching down.Again, thank you for your post!

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>Thanks so much for posting this - very good advice. I really>wonder how much the groud effect modeling in FS2004 (said to>be very bad in the sim) affects the Realair Spit's landing>characteristics. According to Rob Young (RealAir Simulations), ground effect is present in FS9, but really depends on how well the flight dynamics programmer knows how to model it. The Flight Factory Van's RV7 that I have seems to float quite well when carrying to high of an approach speed. For me, the effect seems to be there with some aircraft, and I suppose that's what counts! As to the Spit, I can land it power on or off, but just like any airplane with a high wing loading, I have to keep higher approach speeds, so that I don't risk letting it fall the last few feet to the ground.And this brings up another great debate for the Flight School Forum. There are always those flight school instructors who say that carrying power through an approach is lazyness. Yet, I know of numerous back country approaches, where carrying some power is the "only" way, to keep airspeed & landing distance in check. I like carrying a bit of power in heavier C/S prop RV6's, and it works great during the flare in a Piper Arrow, which is heavier than the Archer/Warrior, but same basic airframe. One thing about it, with these relitivily (spelling? I don't have a spell checker...)small wing spans, ground effect isn't like some big cushion that will prevent the airplane falling like a brick to the runway if airspeed is allowed to decay to quickly.L.Adamsonedit: P.S.---- every time my wife hear's "Bryce Canyon", her knee hurts! Years ago, she slipped and fell on a steep trail near the bottom of the canyon, just as the sun was setting in October. It did some severe damage to her knee, and we had to get search and rescue to get her out on a strecher on those skinny and steep ...two foot wide trails. Took till nearly 10:30 at night. Yet the canyon is always awesome to fly over, as well as Lake Powell, Zions, etc.

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Dianne,"I fly the Spitfire with the same premise taught to airline pilots - make consistantly safe landings rather than 'greasers' in which variation in technique or environment can quickly mitigate an otherwise safe touchdown and rollout." I have a bone to pick with you darling ;)Actually your pretty much right, but we do try to "grease 'em on" as much as possible, at least I do. You take each landing as a seperate thing. Landing in La Guardia on a dark and stormy night is a whole different animal then touching down on 10,000 feet on a calm fall evening! Getting it on in the touchdown zone with minimal fuss, positive ground contact (not firm mind you) and getting the nose down and into reverse are all very important when on shorter runways with not so good wx. I do try for the "greaser" whenever I can! Another thing to consider, fuel is very costly so stopping expeditiously and getting a good turnoff can save several minutes every leg. When you multiply that by several thousand a day it adds up pretty quick. Hornit

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Guest Jimbofly

Hi Dianne,Thanks for your input! Whenever I go in for a landing with the Spit I generally aim to gently touch down on the main undercarriage first, whilst controlling the pitch to prevent the Spit from bouncing, and then I gently allow the airplane to lower the tailwheel. Occasionally I'll go for a three-pointer, but it doesn't always work as expected :-roll James

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Guest Jimbofly

I find that with the Spit I feel compelled to do as smooth a touchdown as I can to better prevent bouncing. Whenever I misjudge the touchdown and hit a little too hard the tail drops rapidly from the momentum and up I go again.I guess you could say that taildraggers in general, especially those with high wing loadings, are conducive to being touched down gently.James

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Guest allcott

The correct procedire with a Spit - or any BIG-propped taildragger, is to use the tailwheel-low or 3-pointer. You can't wheel these things on as they have NO stability on main wheels, and little directional stability from the rudder, at very low IAS. And you DEFINITELY don't want a 12-foot prop striking the ground when the suspension compresses and you run out of ground clearance! Nose UP all the way!The reason the flaps on the Spit are like barn doors at 90 to the airflow is to allow the angine to carry some power all through the approach until the `chop` to land, as described above. Merlin and Griffon engines don't idle well, and trying to open the throttle for a go-around frm idle can lead to pops, bangs and farts, but precious little power just at the point you might need it most!Keeping the power above idle for as long as possible ensures you have a better chance of opening up and going around if a sheep walks across the grass. It's the same principle I was taught for field landings - better to have more flap and more power, so as to have extra control over speed and attitude close to the ground. If you are already on idle the power can only go one way - up. The ground effect `cushion` can effectively be compensated for by pulling the power off, resulting in less float and shorter landing run.Allcott

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Guest Jimbofly

Thanks for the info Allcott!I'll work towards perfecting my 3-pointer then!James

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I dont know hornit...Having riden a bunch of times on your airline...I can almost always tell a Naval aviator from a USAF guy. Navy guys ALWAYS stick it. The USAF guys grease it in. Guess they are used to 10K to work with!!Eric

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Guest Dianne_S

I well remember use of power taught to me when I got my PPL - I had one instructor who always taught power off abeam touchdown point on downwind, manage energy all the way to touchdown from there. After all, what if the engine where to quit while you monkeyed around with the power setting in the pattern? This was old school.Another instructor showed me how to be precise and consistent with full use of power throughout the approach and I mentioned to him the possibility of engine failure and wouldn't the power-off technique be safer, ect. He look at me and said, "Dianne, what if the wings fell off when you turned base?" I got the point - I learned there is more than one way to reconnect with terra firma and that precision and consistentcy with use of power all the way down can be as safe as a power off approach simply from a stastistical point of view. System failures can happen for sure but exactly how many times had I actually experienced engine failure in flight? Why not make full use of power on every approach and be able to more precisely control the glide as long as power is available? I know of course that it's not valid to make a direct analogy between a little Cessna and a Spitfire. Cutting power in the FS2004 Spit, rounding off, then flaring to an almost inperceptible rate of descent makes for perfect 3 point greasers BUT I can't do that consistently. Something will at some point inevitably make me bounce on different landings no matter what I try. With full use of power I can precisely modulate the rate of descent in the Spit, do a wheel landing and accomplish such 95 percent of the time. I think also that in Flight Simulator, the visual cues approaching the last few feet before touching down on the runway are very difficult to discern. In real-world flying a pilot can make out details on the runway surface and it's much easier to gauge height above the runway before flaring.

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Guest allcott

>So are the naval guys, just depends on 10K what :)Army pilots land in the mud, slowAir Force pilots land on the tarmac, fastNavy pilots land 100 feet up, on a moving runway, in the dark, 1,000 miles from anywhere.I can see the tee-shirts now:"Air Force pilots slide it on. Navy men stick it in...";-);-)Allcott

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Hi All,I see from yesterday that there was a chap who got extremely frustrated, so much so that he posted three times how our $^%&$^%&% Spitfire was a ^&*%%$% pain and that he was ^&**$^%* !!!!I replied but just before I posted the thread was removed, presumably by a moderator concerned at the original post's language.We designed the RealAir Spitfire to be challenging, since no-one would want a bland, on-the-rails, easy-peasy aircraft of this type. On the other hand the Spit is not THAT difficult to land.The advice above about keeping a trickle of power on the last part of the approach is good advice. The main reasons some get a bounce are:1. Trying to fly the Spit on to the runway instead of letting it naturally settle.2. Stalling her from over three feet above ground instead of letting her gently sink from a low height (around one foot or less is better).3. Whacking the stick back too aggressively, causing the tailwheel to clatter down before mains, which then crash down.The technique I find useful is to keep that tiny amount of power on nearly all the way to the deck, then GENTLY and gradually apply back pressure to keep the nose from pointing down, keeping the amount of elevator exactly in harmony with the nose gradually rising to the flare position. Then cut the power and just as you land, RELEASE a little pressure on the stick. This prevents the tailwheel from banging hard on the tarmac and discourages taking off again. Once you're firmly down let the stick go forward a tad, but still sufficiently back to avoid nosing the prop when dabbing the brake.PLEASE NOTE: Due to our stall routine (shaking of tailplane and Realview reaction), the Spit will briefly go through the stalled state and shake very briefly as your speed and angle of attack hits the spot where this part of the flight model kicks in, but it is very brief and should not be confused with bouncing.You'll know when you do a greaser because the sound will convey that and there'll be an absence of the "clatter" heard on a less than perfect landing.Oh, and try a slightly curved approach, which keeps the runway in view at all times except for the flare, when you should use Dudley Henrique's excellent "triangle of tarmac" either side of the cockpit.Have Fun!RobYoung www.realairsimulations.com

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Guest Zevious Zoquis

Yeah I agree Rob, it isn't that hard to land. It's tricky, but how anyone could suggest that it's so difficult it actually ruins the plane and expect to be taken seriously is beyond me.

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Guest Jimbofly

If someone does find it rather difficult to land, which is understandable if you lack flightsim taildragger experience, then I think it's more mature to admit you're having trouble and accept other people's assistance gracefully, rather than ranting on about how the aircraft is terrible and must be flawed etc.I have to say that before purchasing the Spit I've usually performed landings with full forward visibility (no cockpit). With the Spit I don't think I've even once landed the thing without the VC, it is that good!I hope that other commercial add-on developers take on board the design philosophies adopted by RealAir :)James

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Guest Tim W

Hi all,It's nice to see that all you guys and girls are having so much fun with the landing characteristics of the Spitfire. I see Rob has posted above and I can't add much to what he said except to say that many people have got the right technique together or in parts. A trickle of power kept on during approach is important as is having the stick back so far that it hurts on touchdown. It's also true that the visual cues needed to land a taildragger properly are missing to some extent in FS and it's also true to say that it doesn't matter how many perfect three pointers you make, the famous "Spitfire bounce" will catch you out now and again! Happy landingsTim (Currently resting in Queensland,Australia)http://members.chello.nl/t.westnutt/realair1.gif

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Guest Peter Sidoli

>Another instructor showed me how to be precise and consistent with full use of power throughout the approach and I mentioned to him the possibility of engine failure and wouldn't the power-off technique be safer, ect. He look at me and said, "Dianne, what if the wings fell off when you turned base?"

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Guest Jimbofly

To be honest, I don't strictly use "pitch for speed, power for descent" on any aircraft. I will sometimes use pitch to control descent and power to control speed, or use pitch to control speed and power to control descent, depending on what's happening in the approach.Like most pilots, pitch and power inputs are done more on a subconcious level where optimal pitch and power is maintained during the approach, and varied accordingly. With experience you learn to mix those two for the best result.In other words, I'm not a fanatic of either camp, I believe the sweet spot is achieved when mixing the two.James

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Guest Peter Sidoli

JamesDont worry I am not starting up the arguement of Pitch for speed again :-) We had about a 100 plus posting on the subject in the flight school forum.Best wishesPeter

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Beats me why the grief about landing the RAS Spit. OK, so it is extremely realistic and therefore not as easy as a 172. But there are many much more difficult planes to land. Try the CS F-104! DH has just posted a great tutorial on the subject on the other side. Now this is HARD to land!Cheers,N.

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