My buddy Gar took this while I was coming in to land at the house. The house and hangar are on the side of Sheep Mt., so the whole piece of property is on a slope. There are two runways, the long one that heads downhill rather rapidly, and the short one that is more-or-less of flat. This photo shows me landing downhill on the long strip. I do this occasionally just to see if I can get stopped by the hangar. I have gotten within 15′, but never quite totally stopped. I am not the shortest landing pilot this side of the Mississippi. In fact I’m pretty bad at it. I watch those guys down at the Valdez STOL competition, and am thoroughly impressed … most of the time. Of course there is no financial or physical consequence for landing a few feet short so they can operate right on the edge of the gnats patootie. I don’t ever practice the short landings on a long flat surface with a light Super Cub. My Super Cub is generally loaded to the gills, and I am landing on some airstrip with consequences on both ends, so it’s more of a working mentality I guess, but those 100′ landings with no wind really impress me.
I have a technique for landing downhill that is a bit odd. I will occasionally dump my flaps while I am still 8 inches off the ground. I don’t know if other guys do this, but it’s really rather sub-conscious. Here is the reasoning; Whenever I am landing on a steep down hill it is tough to get the tires on the ground because the ground is falling away from my tires. I apply the airborne flap-dump most aggressively on downhill landings with gusty wind. Ultimately the only reason to do this is because of excessive airspeed, by dumping the flaps lift is lost, and I get on the ground so the braking can begin. The reason I am landing “too fast” is because it is gusty, and I need the added airspeed to maintain positive control. So really dumping the flaps is more of a relief-valve than a technique, but it comes in really handy sometimes. You can see in the second image that my flaps are up, and I am standing on the brakes because I am pulling hard on the stick.
We usually have to land down hill in the afternoons because the warm winds typically blow up valley after 10 am. Most of the strips we use are not land-able downhill without at least 10 mph of wind to hold us back. The most common “bad scenario” we run into is the 5 mph breeze blowing up valley. It’s too much wind to land with on my tail, when I am fully loaded, and it’s not enough to hold me back for a landing down hill. I should clarify, it’s not that I “can’t” land with the tail-wind, but simply it’s not worth risking the hard landing. This is a very common way to bend metal. Heavily loaded Super Cub, sinker on short final (that sinker is a gust of tailwind), loss of lift, smack the ground 15′ short of the strip, and bend a landing gear if you’re lucky. This job is not about being the best Cub-Jock to ever walk the face of the earth, it’s about being the best decision maker. This is a drum you will hear me beat often on this blog.