Bad landings will happen to everyone from time to time, but how you handle them is what can make you a great tailwheel pilot. Lets think about the porpoise, induced swerve and the bounce. First, ask yourself these questions:
- Have you ever tried to salvage a bad landing because you had a passenger in the front, or maybe you had a wingman that landed in front of you?
- Have you ever landed, touched down, bounced hard and tried to recover?
- How often to you feel yourself swerve down the runway and hope it starts to dampen? Or how often do you feel the landing going perfectly smooth down the runway? What causes the difference?
- Do you hesitate 'going around'?
Biplane Landings: The Bounce
Usually this is caused with excess speed and/or poor pitch control. In the Great Lakes, I like to cross the fence at 80mph and do a decelerating flare to 'Roll it on' in a 3 pt attitude. If you gauge it wrong you may bounce. Here is a good old timer expert talking about it in the video. If it is a small bounce, I usually just hold what I got, and wait to see if it is ok to land. Otherwise 'Go Around' while in the next bounce.
Biplane Landing: The Swerve
Here is where the Stick meets Rudder! When you touchdown a lot of different forces are acting on the aircraft at different levels: Slipstream effect, P-Factor, Gyroscopic Effect and Cross-winds. You have those rudders and ailerons to deal with these challenges.
Rudder: Use to keep the biplane flying straight down the runway. The aircrafts longitudinal axis should be parallel to the runway. NOT to correct for lack of crosswind inputs! :-)
Aileron: For crosswind corrections, and moving the aircraft slowly to the left or right.
When you feel your butt moving left and right in the seat, or swerving then something is out of wack. Most likely you didn't put in a cross wind correction and are trying to correct it with rudder. The Great Lakes is a super easy tail dragger to fly so you may have gotten away with not using crosswind corrections properly but sometimes it will bite you. Exaggerate your cross wind inputs, that keeps your skills sharp and puts a little positive direction control on the plane.
Biplane Flying: The Porpoise
The porpoised landing is an oscillation that occurs if you hit hard, bounce, push the nose over, and hit hard again. The situation usually ends poorly (with a prop strike and flip over) after one or more cycles. First off, don't come in too fast, use appropriate pitch control. If you try to recover from the first bounce because you think it isn't too bad, then DON'T PUSH the nose down, instead just 'hold what you got' or release a little back stick pressure. If it starts to porpoise, on the up cycle, Go AROUND immediately!
PRO BIPLANE PILOT TIP
Visualize while at home laying in bed. Imagine a 10 knot direct crosswind from either side. Put the crosswind correction in on final, when you touch down, keep that crosswind input and put that stick over further as you slow. As you lose control authority, you will need almost full input. Don't take it out after touch down!
Practice Practice and Practice your landings on your own! While practicing do not try to salvage a botched landing, just Go Around and try it again. You are there to perfect the ART!