Short Final: Bounce


Many years ago and right after I had gotten my private ticket, I decided it would be “fun” to pick up one of my customers at Midway Airport. Of course I had been to towered fields before but not with heavy commercial traffic where the dreaded “Keep your speed up you’re being followed by a Southwest 737” was heard. I was flying a T210 Centurion and cleared the fence way, way too fast. I bounced like a pogo stick on the runway. When tower handed me off to ground he said, “Call Ground 121.65 and be prepared to copy a phone number to call the tower. I cleared you to land once not seven times.”

I changed over to ground with fear and trepidation of facing my first violation and was met with, “No number to call. He’s just yanking your chain. That was one hell of a bounce however.”

Stewart G. McMillan

Valparaiso, Indiana

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  1. Isn’t there a landing fee at Midway? One can imagine 7 being gleefully charged…. 😁
    The C210 is hard to slow down in descent without putting down the gear and at least 2 flaps which you can start to do at 165 Kts. Without those you pretty much have to shoot it out of the sky. Even then, a stable approach at the higher speed is going to be a challenge to manage, especially if you are high over the threshold and still need to slow down without at least another notch or even full flaps to avoid an excessively long landing and delay clearing the runway. Probably in 20/20 hindsight asking to go around might have been a better plan.
    Easy for me to say… I know.

  2. Am I the only one who thinks that controller was ‘way out of line?

    It was evident to everyone present that the landing was less-than-stellar, and for a number of reasons, starting with inexperience. I’m sure the cab crew got a good laugh out of it. But there is no way this pilot was not mortified by such a public display, then terrified by the “Advise when you can copy …” instruction.

    When was the last time you heard a cop at your window say, “Do you know why I pulled you over?”, as a joke?

    The tower supe should have slapped that controller silly, in the most PATCO-approved way possible.

  3. I agree that the controller’s remarks were not appropriate.
    Also a little surprised to hear of flying a turbo 210 Centurion just after getting a licence.

  4. Many years ago I had a similar experience flying a borrowed 172 into Dayton OH (KDAY) the day prior to the big Dayton Air Show. In this case no trailing 737s, but my approach/descent was considerably speedier than standard due to a number of factors: Lack of recent experience in the 172; a last minute switch by tower from 24R to 24L (which had a nearer threshold); and the announcement on final that the airport would be closing in five minutes so that the Blue Angels could practice for the next day’s show. I think I only bounced three times on the landing(s) but as I finally got things stabilized on rollout I happened to catch a glimpse to my left and there, waiting patiently at the hold short line to cross my runway, once I cleared, and taking in the full display of my questionable airmanship, was the entire Blue Angels squadron. No rude comments from the tower needed to complete my embarrassment.

  5. Chip, nah. Not just “welcome to aviation” nah either. I mean seriously. If someone is sufficiently anxious that a bit of teasing will hinder their performance, that’s a long-term hazardous attitude or mental health issue. Pricking the balloon of a pregnant silence also brings out the embarrassed laughs and stories we’ve all got.

    If I was on ground that day I hope I would have been quick enough to tell Stewart he was going to be billed for 7 landings.

  6. I know that bounce. Got my ticket in a 206 and its tempting in B class to keep the speed up. Now I just slow it down.