Flight Training - June 2020 - 12

PREFLIGHT WHAT AM I?

BY DAVE HIRSCHMAN

ABSORBING THE PUNISHMENT
SHOCK ABSORBERS FOR EXTREME STOL

THE LANDING GEAR IN BACKCOUNTRY AIRPLANES TAKES A LOT

12

FLIGHT TRAINING JUNE 2020

offer an array of sophisticated shock absorbers for their STOL
(short takeoff and landing) models.
Many backcountry airplanes are equipped with oversized
tundra tires, and their inherently low tire pressure provides a
cushion-and an enlarged footprint-for bearing weight on soft
surfaces. But extreme conditions require more than soft tires.
The Just Aircraft SuperSTOL, for example, uses long-stroke
shock absorbers on its main landing gear and another, shorter
version for the tailwheel.
Alpha Omega Suspension System (AOSS) replaces bungees
in Super Cubs and some other FAA-certified aircraft, and Roberts Air Gear Extreme (RAGE) adjustable shock absorbers are
retrofittable to a variety of aircraft. Unlike old-style metal gear
or bungees, the RAGE system is adjustable, so pilots can make
them stiffer or softer based on aircraft weight and the landing
surface. As the popularity of backcountry airplanes increases,
modern suspension systems allow these specialized aircraft to
operate in even more extreme places.
dave.hirschman@aopa.org

CHRIS ROSE

of abuse. It's got to be sturdy to stand up to the impact of touching down on rocky, muddy, or uneven terrain, and it must absorb
the brunt of the impact without passing along too much force to
the rest of the fragile airframe.
Traditionally, backcountry aircraft manufacturers have
relied on low-tech elastic bands, rubber donuts, air- or oilfilled struts, or metal landing gear itself for this tough duty.
A Piper PA-18 Super Cub's main landing gear is typically
held together by elastic bungee cords that stretch as the
landing gear splays at touchdown. A Cessna 180 Skywagon has
spring steel landing gear that bends outward to accomplish
the same purpose. Both of those systems have been in place for
decades.
Now, the popularity of snowmobiles, all-terrain vehicles,
and off-road race cars has led to huge advancements in shock
absorbers for vehicles that weigh about as much as small airplanes-and bush airplanes are among the beneficiaries.
Aviat added automotive shock absorbers to its Husky models. In the experimental category, Just Aircraft, Rans, and others



Flight Training - June 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Flight Training - June 2020

Contents
Flight Training - June 2020 - Intro
Flight Training - June 2020 - Cover1
Flight Training - June 2020 - Cover2
Flight Training - June 2020 - Contents
Flight Training - June 2020 - 2
Flight Training - June 2020 - 3
Flight Training - June 2020 - 4
Flight Training - June 2020 - 5
Flight Training - June 2020 - 6
Flight Training - June 2020 - 7
Flight Training - June 2020 - 8
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Flight Training - June 2020 - Cover3
Flight Training - June 2020 - Cover4
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