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Thread: Cessna 150 off Airport Bad idea??

  1. #1
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    Default Cessna 150 off Airport Bad idea??

    I have noticed a few long gravel bars/beaches and even some flat ridges 1500ft and longer. I was curious if my 150 could make it in and out safely.
    I know the little airplane has some major limitations(lightweight, underpowered) and I don't plan on doing anything stupid.

    Just curious Have any of you taken 150/152s off airport in much?

    Thanks for any advice you can pass along.

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    Default Cessna 150 off Airport Bad idea??

    There are plenty of places it can go safely. The biggest issue you’ll have is the experience necessary to evaluate those places and match the landing area to your hardware and skill level. One suggestion is to find a good mentor who will spend air time with you. That person might not necessarily even be a CFI, who knows.

    Internet advice on off airport landings can become a forced camping trip in the blink of an eye. Choose wisely.

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    Not a pilot so a disclaimer here, but: I flew with a bush pilot once that measured his new landing zones by his speed over ground. You'll have to do the math but it goes like this. If you can maintain 90 mph, a constant, feet per second over ground of 132 per second. So if you start counting seconds as you fly over the start of the gravel bar until the end, you should have a rough estimate of the length of the bar and know if you can take off. If it takes you 8 seconds, the rough length should be 1,188 feet.

    It would be a good idea to do it on a field with plenty of room and practice first with maybe someone on the ground to take measurements for you until you get practiced at it.

    IF any of you pilots out there disagree, chime in and I will delete this so no one gets into trouble.

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    Most airplanes can be operated off-airport if you tailor your landing zone requirements to their real world performance. The real world performance is only partly indicated by what they do at a prepared surface. And the ability to evaluate and test surfaces does not come from airport operations. An important limitation on any aircraft is the change in rolling resistance encountered on unprepared surfaces. If the surface is too soft in relation to tire size, you may not be able to take off at all, even though you might be able to land safely. Learning how to evaluate a surface is an important skill. And because the takeoff performance is going to be different, I always recommend starting with at least double what you might need for a prepared surface. If the 1500 foot gravel bar is the same as the 1500 feet of runway you would use...then it is not enough.
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    The off airport world is full of risk factors that on airport trained pilots never encounter. Like an earlier responder said you really need someone knowledgeable who can guide you in acquiring this information. The advise to double your on airport space required for takeoff is also good info.The Private Pilot Handbook is a poor source for what you need to know. There is a better source though with really useful info for what you are thinking about doing. The Alaska Aviators Safety Handbook page 54-56 Off Airport Operations explains real world methods that eliminate much of the guesswork involved in determining if your takeoff will be successful. Those aircraft performance charts are of little use for takeoff off airport but by measuring available space and then determining the speed required for liftoff and relating that space to the speed on your airspeed indicator at 50% of distance, or 30% of distance for a 50’ barrier, you can continue or abort without having to guess if the airplane is going to be successfully flying soon. That technique is only one of the useful tools explained for off airport flying in this publication. If our Alaska CFI’s would spend more time teaching these techniques the fine folks out at Pioneer Helicopters would sling load fewer crashed airplanes each year. The standard FAA maneuvers required for a certificate do little to prepare you. Find a mentor and then know that off airport will seriously test your judgement in ways the float and helicopter pilots know all about.

    https://www.faa.gov/about/office_org..._2017_ver3.pdf

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    I appreciate the input and I totally get it. All I would be asking of the airplane is to go where 140/120s have been going. After all most of this state pioneered with little T-CARTS back in the day right? I know the nose wheel has some major draw backs but I feel like with caution and good judgement the 150 can do a lot more then most people give it credit.

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    Tundrawooky from your initial question you seem like a person who wants to consider all the variables. As others have said there are places you can safely operate with small underpowered nose wheel Cessnas. As to going where the 120/140s go that might depend on how dangerous a life the 120/140 drivers live!

    Long ago the task of checking a group of helicopter mechanics out in a company C 182 came along. They would each be given a unannounced simulated engine failure to touchdown on the hard sand beach off Port O'Connor, TX. Up further on the beach in soft sand was the wreckage of several airplanes which had been piloted by people who thought all sand was alike to an airplane. There were C 150 tracks all over those beaches. You could land anything on a low low tide in the ocean bottom typical off Polly Creek. Unlike the ocean beach too much wet can turn North Slope river bar into a trap. Surfaces with rocks are a little tricky to recon as rocks seem able to grow when you get closer. Even some designated airports like Coal Creek up on the Yukon are seriously rock rough. Ask lots of questions, use your eyes, think of all the variables, and drag a tire across the surface prior to landing. Just remember every day is different as those two C 206 pilots with upside down airplanes on the bear beach across the inlet found out the sudden stop way. Don’t forget to strap in snug including harness on just in case the human factor part has a bad day. Sportsman’s Warehouse has clam shovels.

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    Thanks again, I really want to use ALOT of caution and learn as much as I can from everyone. I was thinking that's it's probably not a terrible idea to practice this in my POS 10k airplane instead of a C180.

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    Tundrawooky, There is so much wrong with this post and thread its hard to know where to start. There is a reason that you don't see 150/152s in off airport environments in AK... because they are not off airport airplanes. I get it there a couple modified 150's out there that try it but it's not realistic. I own 3 airplanes one of which is a "modified" 172 with 29" ABW, VG's, 180hp 0360 and more that I enjoy doing beach landings and remote gravel strip ops with but in no way would I consider this an "off airport" airplane. I have a Super Cub and a PA-14 for that fun stuff.

    From your description "my POS 10K airplane" I'm assuming it is not equipped to try these activities. I'm assuming again that you are using this airplane to build hours and learn how to fly in Alaska. Use this time to hone your pilot skills flying and understanding Alaska's weather and terrain first. It sounds like you have a perfect airplane to affordably build hours and save $ for a plane that's better suited for off airport ops.

    I will agree with one piece of advice on this thread from gbflyer "Internet advice on off airport landings can become a forced camping trip in the blink of an eye. Choose wisely"

    I'm not trying to be a hard***** please understand but your adventure to start landing on gravel bars with a 10K 150 will probably end with a 10K helicopter extraction bill.

    fly safe, your family counts on it. 14fan

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    If you've read my posts and replies I hope that you would understand that I am asking for and heeding advice. Safety is my utmost concern. What I can't get over is the amount of negativity associated with anything that isnt an 80k tricked out cub on a bank loan. Your "elitist attitude" does more to discourage new pilots then anything. Jesus I'm not planning on landing in the Brooks range and hauling out two sheep!!!

    Thanks guys for all of your words of encouragement...

    Thanks guys

  11. #11

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    Lots of places you can take you plane up here, even above the brooks. You just have to find places with enough runway or wind on the nose. Learn to use you flaps properly and watch your weight you will do fine. Go practice at max weight on a no wind day off a gravel strip and figure out really how much runway you need now add some for altitude or temp. How flat is your prop? I would find one that is as flat as possible and legal for your plane. You may loose 20 mph at the top end but having a engine make close to max power on the ground roll makes a world of difference. Take another plane with you the first few times in case you need help.
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    Thanks! I was looking at buying a seaplane prop cf7538 I think that's legal. Or maybe have my current one repitched.
    I think a 150hp would be nice but that would cost more then a new airplane.

  13. #13

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    There is a big difference between a Cessna 120/140 that has oversize tires on and a stock 150. Do you have oversize tires? If not, they can go a lot of places you can't. The theoretical engine/wing performance is only a small part of the equation. Your specific landing gear is what is most critical.
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    That makes sense, the rolling resistance in the tires makes a huge difference. Is that the main issue is the little nosewheel digging in?

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    Small tires make a big difference no matter where they are. The nosewheel tire has an additional problem because it has to hold up the heaviest part of the airplane, which is the engine. There is definitely an advantage of tailwheel aircraft because they have two tires to support the front of the aircraft and those two tires can be much more oversized than most nosewheel tires. However, a tricycle gear aircraft can still be used in the off airport environment, but the nosewheel itself leads to some challenges.

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    Nice picture, I'm curious where is that?
    I assume beaches can be very hard to judge how hard the surface is.
    I was thinking about finding a place to dig clams this sumer.

  17. #17

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    That beach is on the Pacific side of the Alaska Peninsula. No idea if it has clams.
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    I used a 150 horse C-150 for a few years as a primary trainer and a fun flyer.

    While she had enough power t pull herself off the ground in 400 feet, her firewall was not string enough to stand up the the rigors of off-field work.

    C-150s have a good load on their nose wheel and that nose wheel strut assembly is bolted to a fairly fragile aluminum firewall.

    PA-20s have a much stronger nose-wheel system.

    Go to the NTSB accident summary database and research the last 30 years worth of C-150 boo-boos. There are more than a few tweaked firewalls and nose gear failures on training aircraft, ( on pavement with crappy pilots) , so pounds through the pot-holes in a C-150 is not really a great idea. Unless it is a tailwheel version.
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    That is a good point. Tripacer nose gear is pretty robust, but the small Cessnas are not known for having tough nosegear, so that would be another concern. But that tiny nosewheel on a 150 would be pretty limiting all by itself, I think. The 6.00x6 on the PA-22 feels too small, so I can only imagine running into anything soft or rough with the Cessna would be pretty disconcerting.
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    I have seen a heavy duty Cessna Nose Fork on a C-150. I know not , if it was field approved or what...That would allow a 700 size nose tire. But the strut attach point and firewall are not going to magically beef up.
    It would be like lifting a cast iron dutch oven with a chop-stick. Sooner or later something will break.
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