aktahoe1 wrote:MTV- I do take your advice seriously and have heard they are not the best for DEEP snow but are one of best for OVERALL operations?? You actually reference that in another forum. They are basically the same as LH-4000 with the same performance, weight, surface area, etc.
MTV: I do find it crazy that your on every forum thats out there. Your opinion is obviously well taken so keep giving it to me....please. Maybe share a story with us on how to get stuck with your hydraulic skis and have to spend a week digging out or something cool like that.
I don't believe I've EVER said anywhere that the Fluidyne skis are best at anything. Like amphibious floats, retractable skis GENERALLY are a compromise, and the Fluidyne skis are definitely a compromise. That said, if you need retractable skis, they are one of the few out there. They are most definitely NOT the same as the LH-4000 skis made by Landes Airglas, though. The Airglas skis are much bigger bottoms and MUCH lighter than the Fluidyne/Wipaire skis are. Nevertheless, they are what you have, and most days, that's as good as it's going to get. Of the three most commonly available retractable wheel skis for a 180/185 (LH 4000, Fli-Lite 4000, and these) the Fluidynes are my least favorite. They are bullet proof, relatively speaking, and that's good. Float in deep snow they don't.
As to me being on "every forum thats out there"--hardly. The only forums I visit regularly are this one and Supercub.org. whatever.
You are ABSOLUTELY correct that you learn ski flying best through your own experience. Getting that experience can be painful at times, but the good news is that ski flying mistakes rarely hurt anyone. As long as you're well prepared.
When I worked in northern AK, the first five years or so the only ski plane I had access to was a 185 on....you guessed it--Fluidyne 3600 retractable skis. I got stuck on several occasions as I learned what to do and what not to do, where to land and where not to land. Deep snow (127 inches on the ground one winter in the early 90s) is NOT a good place for ANY retractable ski on a 180/185, and especially the 3600s.
Story: Taking a recurrent ski checkride with one of our check airmen. Early spring in the year with 127 inches of snow. Flew south of FAI along the Tanana River, found a meadow complex and started laying tracks. After perhaps a dozen or so passes to "build a runway" by packing the snow down, I opted to land. Bad choice, it turned out. I was actually landing on a crust that was about 2 feet down, but there were several feet more snow under that crust. As long as I kept some speed up, the plane would stay up on the crust. As soon as I slowed to a walk, the plane fell through the crust....right up to it's wings. Grrrrr.
Break out the snowshoes, and commence building a ramp and improving my "runway" that I'd made with the multiple passes. Jump in plane, fire up, start takeoff, and slide off the track into deep snow again.
Repeat four times.
We are now running out of meadow. The Check airman eyes the willows and cottonwoods at the end of the meadow and announces that what we need to do is one person fly the plane off here, the other snowshoe back to the other end. The flyer would takeoff and circle around and land at the beginning of the tracks and pick up the other. That would give us more room for the heavier takeoff. Having noted the proximity of the brush and low trees, I suggested that HE do the takeoff, and I snowshoe....courtesy and all.
His response: "It's your airplane and your checkride--you're flying, I'm walking". Crap.
I mounted up and started the engine. He came over and knocked on the window....I opened the window and asked him what he wanted. His response: "You DO realize that if you DON'T come back to pick me up, you'll fail the checkride, right?" Roger that.
I did manage to take off, only hanging a couple branches in the skis and turning the prop blades a little green as I passed the brushline. I circled around, landed much further back in the tracks AFTER having run the tracks out with another ten or so passes with the skis in the snow. He climbed aboard, and we instantly got stuck again.
Shoveled, snowshoed, etc for another couple hours, and managed to launch. About the time we got airborne, one of our airplanes came looking for us, since our flight plan had expired. Good to know your safety net is there, albeit a bit late.
This whole process took about 5 hours. After returning to FAI, the check airman was filling out the paperwork, and asked me when my next checkride was scheduled for. I responded "June, on floats". His response: "I'll bring my swim suit".
That night I slept better than I ever have. Totally exhausted, but happy to be sleeping at home, rather than in a frozen swamp.
One piece of advise: Be VERY careful turning that airplane around by hand with the skis in the down position. That's a heavy airplane, and it is quite easy to torque the ski axles and crack them. They are NOT cheap, and generally the way you find out they're cracked is by landing, and having one depart the plane....the ski that is....right out to the end of it's check cables, at which point the ski beats the hell out of your pretty plane. Which may not make any difference, because the wheel digging in may cause more damage in any case.