The AOPA 2012 “Tougher than a Tornado” Husky is usually obedient and well mannered – but sometimes it strays.
Within two feet of the ground on landing, it can become willful and ornery, usually resulting in a firm touchdown and/or bounced landing. A rolled up newspaper won’t change this dog’s behavior, and neither will a pocket full of dog treats.
But the Tornado Husky (and all other Huskies) is certainly capable of smooth and consistent wheel- and three-point landings as long as pilots know the tricks: Precise airspeed control on final, full nose-up trim, and power above idle for elevator effectiveness.
This unconventional combination is necessary because of the Husky’s unusual elevator trim system. Turning the trim wheel moves the entire elevator (and not just a trim tab). The elevator travel is the same regardless of the trim position, but unless you’re Paul Bunyan, you won’t have the arm strength to command full up elevator in the landing flare if you’re working against the heavy spring in the trim system.
And even if the pilot does succeed in getting the stick to the full aft position during the flare, that’s not enough to ensure a soft, three-point landing – especially if the Husky’s center of gravity is at the forward end of the normal range (such as when the pilot is flying solo). The airplane simply runs out of elevator authority. In order to raise the nose to the required 10-degree deck angle, the airplane needs more airflow over the tail. And the only way to get it at normal speed is from the propeller. Crack the throttle about a quarter inch (roughly the same position you place it for engine start) and you’re in the ballpark.
Flap position also influences the character of Husky landings.
They can be set at zero, one, two, or three notches – and adding flaps increases the nose-down pitching moment. I prefer two notches for full-stall landings and three notches for wheel landings – but the method for both is almost identical.
Fly 65 mph ias on short final with full nose-up trim and the throttle a quarter-inch open; round out in ground effect and work the stick aft. With two notches of flaps (or less), full back stick results in a three-point touchdown. With three notches of flaps, I tend to run out of elevator before reaching the full-stall angle of attack. When the main wheels touch, relax the back pressure on the stick to pin them on and fly the tail to the ground as the airplane decelerates. Once the tailwheel touches, apply full aft stick.
Slowing to 60 mph ias on final, or even 55, works well for short-field landings. But it also requires significantly more power on final to avoid an excessive sink rate. (I use 500 fpm on final as a target.)
The same techniques apply for crosswind landings. The Husky POH lists a maximum demonstrated crosswind component of 15 miles an hour – and that number seems conservative. The airplane has an authoritative rudder and ailerons, and keeping it tracking straight with the upwind wing held down is easily doable in such winds. (YouTube has many examples of Huskies landing in much stronger crosswinds.)
Flying final approach with full nose-up trim sometimes requires slight forward pressure on the stick, and that feels awkward. (It also requires that the pilot be ready to apply brisk forward pressure in case of a go-around.)
But the exaggerated trim position gets the elevator right where it should be in the landing flare – and that (along with power) is the key to consistently smooth Husky landings.