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Grass Field in a Cherokee: Leander, TX

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The only time I landed on grass was in Leander, Texas. I had found an aircraft mechanic to perform an economical annual inspection on my Cherokee 140, but I had to get it to his private airstrip. This is a recreation of that first flight to Pegasus Place, about 30 miles northwest of Austin.

After planning, I start on the taxiway at (now-closed) Austin Mueller, and taxi to the smaller general aviation runway and depart to the southeast. As I climb through 1000 feet, I turn toward the northwest on a course of 333 degrees. I level out at around 2000 feet and search the green, yellow and brown patchwork for landmarks. I follow what I assume is U.S. 183, then spot a white dot in the distance in the direction I am going. Thinking it may be a beacon, I continue toward it, but soon it becomes apparent that the white object is a large water tower.

Checking the map, I see that the grass strip is a little southeast of the tower, so I am on the right track. Looking out the right window, I see numbers on the ground in a yellow patch that looks like all the other patches around. I turn toward the field and descend, but then I lose sight of the numbers. I fly around a little, then pause the simulation to look at the map and cycle through the views until I can determine my position. (An advantage of the simulation over reality is the ability to stop and sort things out.) I un-pause, and set up for the landing. With full flaps, I skim the threshold markings and land right on top of 15, brake hard, and come to a stop on top of 33. Using the instant replay, I watch from outside the plane, and feel pretty good about the landing on the 2700-foot grass strip.

Now to take off. The Cherokee 140 Pilot Operating Handbook (POH) says to lower flaps to the second notch (25°), accelerate, pull the nose gear off the ground as soon as possible, and lift off and fly in ground effect to best rate of climb, 89 mph (Soft field, No Obstacle.) I set the flaps and push the throttle forward while holding brakes. When I release brakes, the plane starts to move very slowly. I am almost at the other end of the field before the nose comes up and past the threshold markings before the mains lift off. I reset and try again, and the same thing happens. Instant replay from outside shows the plane flying, just barely, a few feet beyond the end of the runway. Thank goodness there are no obstacles!

PA28-140 OY-DHD (FSX)
From: KATT (Austin Mueller, TX)
To: 8X5W (Pegasus Place, Leander, TX)
August 15, 1993
PA28-140 N55633
From: AUS (Austin Mueller, Austin, TX)
To: 8X53(Pegasus Place, Leander, TX)

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Updated 01-12-2015 at 12:06 PM by gmurray56