Can you see the Super Cub ? The Cub is taking off, but is still on the ground, and rather small. I had just gotten airborne, and winged around to get this picture of Mike taking off. On this particular morning the glacier was so slippery that it took one person dragging and pushing on each wing to maintain control while I turned around. At one point the plane started sliding sideways and my panties got all up in a bundle trying to stop it.
Taking-off of steep, slippery terrain is a potential hazard. You know how taildraggers respond during takeoff. A little rudder dance takes place during each take off and landing in order to maintain directional control. If the plane wanders during the rudder dance, a touch of opposite brake will immediately regain directional control. On mornings as slippery as the one pictured above I might-as-well forget that the plane even has brakes, because they are completely and utterly worthless. I don’t use brakes often on takeoff because of the obvious adverse effects, but it’s nice to know I have the option. Brakes are especially nice with the ever-present downhill, glacial tailwind, because for several seconds the only air flow over the rudder is the air caused by the prop wash. The third, and most adverse, effect to directional stability are the ribs of ice running diagonally across this particular glacier. Those ribs pull on my bush wheels like asphalt grooves on a motorcycle tire. It is controllable, but you better have your poop-in-a-group before you apply full power. You can see similar glacial grooves at the end of this video.
During scenarios like this I generally accelerate rather slowly, sort of like when I was first learning to fly. I just ease the throttle forward so nothing happens too fast, because the consequences of loosing directional control would be … unfortunate. As you can see, the terrain below the strip is less than forgiving. With the momentum earned from a botched take off I could easily make it right out the bottom of this picture. I am not claiming that taking off of steep slippery slopes is difficult, I am just suggesting that your mental “potential hazard” alarm be blaring while you do it. If you want to ride along on a glacial landing and go for a short hike, you can with Blue Ice Aviation for just $250 bucks. Check out my website. (All new website coming soon with detailed pricing).
If you still have not located the Super Cub, it is on the left side of the main ice-field, about half way up the glacier, and within a couple hundred feet of the medium sized snow-patch. Look for two black specks … those are the 35″ bushwheels :o) I love em’, so many uses.