I finally took the 701 on the grass on Saturday and Sunday. The WX cooperated by providing mostly dry grass and limp windsocks over the weekend. The 701 of course is designed for these sorts of operations with large turf tires, direct linkage steering on the nose, a large rudder and a very centered CG.
After much discussion I decided not to use a full stick back technique for takeoff, nor pulling the stick full after after landing due to possibility of over rotation. Flaps were not used as they cause a “heavy” elevator, greatly increase sink rate and increase the pressure on the nose wheel.
I started with about 10 takeoffs and landings on the pavement to warm up and practice softfield technique. Then I transitioned to about a half dozen takeoffs on the grass with landings on the pavement, then finally approached the grass.
The first several landings were T&Gs so I could get a feel for the surface without committing the full weight of the aircraft to the strip. It also gave me a good initial idea of how much strip I would require. The current grass strip at AWO is 1500 feet. After 4 T&Gs I brought the plane to a full stop and taxied back by the pavement, then progressed to stop & gos. Overall I did 30 landings on Saturday
I found that with no wind on slightly wet grass I currently need about 500 feet from touchdown to get to a full stop solo. Takeoff run from a stop appears to be about 300 feet. Overall I prefer pavement takeoffs due to the 50% less space required. They are faster and just more fun.
After almost 40 hours in my 701 I think landing it on the grass is preferable despite the increased roll distance. The impact is softer and the slipperiness of the surface makes it feel more forgiving. The nose bounces a bit due to the bungee cord without a shock\dampener, but prop clearance did not look to be an issue and you do not feel it in the cockpit, although the video makes it look like I was tossed around.
After a few hours of landings at AWO I ventured south, when down the valley then across Bellevue to BFI for some pattern work. Like with the 150 I requested early bases and added early cross winds. By altitude the crosswinds were not early, but given where I was I still made sure they were OK. Once again the BFI guys are the friendliest ATCs around and even recognized my voice and commented on the plane’s performance.
In addition I tried a David Clark ENC headset. What a world of difference. This is the first active headset I have tried that does not produce an uncomfortable pressure on my ears. It also does not produce an irritating humming sound when on. The active “reduction” is very noticeable and allows me to hear myself without turning on the intercom while on takeoff.
Combined on Saturday I got 4.1 hours in.
The current grass runway at KAWO is on the West side of the hold short line, just north of the skirt and south of the A2 taxiway. There is a new grass runway that will be officially opened soon.
Sunday I played on the grass more and then ventured out. I ended up at JeffCo to have lunch where I just missed another 701 builder. Then it was out towards Sequim until clouds stopped me, up over Whidbey with a transition, then over Cypress to Bellingham, to Skagit and finally back to AWO.
The video does not really show it well, but saplings really do cover the old Cypress strip. The catch them on film them I would have to get much closer than I was.
Sunday was 3.4 hours in the air. That leaves 1.9 hours left of the 40 hour test period.
Sunday Cypress Island Fly Over: