Almost Ground Looped
We started out the day as planned, be at the USAF museum when they open, tour the stuff we missed yesterday and then move on to Sporty’s Pilot Shop near Cincinnati. As we approached Clermont County I could hear that it was a busy airport. There were 2 already in the pattern and 2 on their way in, Sporty’s pilot training was in full force. We threaded our way into the mix and were appropriately spaced behind the airplane we were following. I made my standard left pattern to the airport and when on short final I encountered a small gust of wind, the airplane bounced once, settled back down and bounced again. I decided to go around and give it another shot, my motto is stable approach equals stable landing. On the second attempt everything was much better, I settled Estelle down onto the runway and made a smooth wheel landing. As I slowed down I let the tail settle onto the runway. As soon as the tail wheel made contact with the runway, we were headed towards the right side, I reacted as quickly as I could and barely saved it from going off the runway and spinning us around. I used full left rudder and locked up the left wheel to keep it from going around. This was the closest I have ever been to a ground loop and there was very little I felt I could do to stop it. I have analyzed it a thousand times in my head already and I don’t know what I could have done to cause this, the winds were only 5 knots, it wasn’t a quartering tailwind and we were pointed straight down the runway when I set the tailwheel down. I will continue to analyze my actions and their consequences as well as asking others for their input and experience. I sure am glad that landing is behind me and I am still able to take Estelle flying again.
After that landing I was happy to be parked for the day. Not only was I parked, I was parked right in front of Sporty’s Pilot Shop. I have shopped with Sporty’s throughout my flying career but to be honest I didn’t think twice about what Sporty’s was. It was made quite clear to me that Sporty’s is an institution. Sporty’s is exactly what general aviation needs, I just wish everyone could see this operation. We toured and toured and toured the facilities and I was impressed every time we went through another door. The entire operation appeared to be geared towards making general aviation accessible and fun for everyone. When you walk through the front door you are greeted by a retired Reno Air Race Pitts S1S on a lift 15 feet in the air. There is of course the pilot shop, an FBO, and lots of memorabilia. Then just in front of you there is a glass elevator that takes you to Sporty’s Cafe and another display of items that are available in Sporty’s catalogs as well as a Hot Seat Flight Simulator to play with. During our tour we were fortunate enough to be taken into the “Out of Control Tower”. They have a camera installed in there so you can see it on their website. It was great to see tons of college students working at Sporty’s, it is obvious Hal Shevers is committed to training the next generation of pilots.
Sorry if this sounds like a commercial for Sporty’s, they are not a sponsor of Wingster and I have been paid nothing to drone on about their company. They are however supporters of Wingster’s cause.
If ever you find yourself near Batavia, OH it is worth your time to stop in at Sporty’s Pilot Shop just be careful when you land.