The title has a nice alliterative ring to it, doesn’t it? But it has more than alliteration going for it.
I had confirmed a Monday morning flying session with a primary student and she replied, “See you for Monday morning multiples”. She had discovered the maneuver which we use here at Tailwheel Town to develop the reflexes necessary for landing. Coincidently, she and I found ourselves practicing Multiple Landings during our Monday morning sessions.
Multiples are pretty much what the name implies. First we swoop to the runway with a virtually non-existent final from a tight pattern. We touchdown short, normally with a one-wheel landing and, keeping the tail up we go for the multiples. We do them with a little mnemonic mantra: “power, pitch, pitch, power”, we chant as we run down the runway in our little taildragger, executing as many as five or six landings and takeoffs in one touch-and-go cycle. It’s called “Multiple Landings”, or just “Multiples”. It’s challenging, difficult… and fun as hell! You can see a video demonstration on this website. Same title!
Her delight and eagerness were evident in the way she said that. And I’m convinced that, for all the technical and sometimes draggy stuff we have to teach to a private pilot applicant, one of the most important things we can do is to remember why they are learning to fly and to make sure that we who teach flying never forget what it’s all about.
We’ve come a long way in our pursuit of the thrill and value of flying. Think about those poor saps before the Wright Brothers who thought that feathers had something to do with it. They strapped feathered wing-like attachments to their arms, then leapt off the roofs of barns with enthusiasm. A modern flying student could have told them that the human’s arms not only do not have the necessary type of musculature for flapping, but are also unable to even hold the weight of the flier if the wings DID work. It would be like performing a ring gymnast’s “iron cross” with more than one “G” and with no conditioning! But if eagerness is the disregard for the facts and the sheer belief that feathers’ll make the durn thing work, then those early inventors sure had heaps of eagerness. When I was a kid, there was an already-old sign at the stable where I hung out. It featured a picture of “Goofy” with a determined look. The caption underneath said, “Muh mind’s made up; don’t confuse me with the facts!”
But now that we’ve overcome all those early obstacles to manned flight, we’ve become a bit hidebound in our approach to flight training. We must never forget, not only that this is supposed to be fun, but also that we must constantly be working to make the whole flight training experience both effective and enjoyable.
Not everyone is ready for multiples, but I believe that as soon as a student pilot is capable, they should start practicing them. They have an added benefit. With today’s high cost of flying, the multiple does more than its share to efficiently utilize the student’s flight time. If you combine the extremely small pattern we fly at tailwheel town with multiple landings, you could be looking at a between four and TEN times the landings per hour that the hidebound folks at the modern Acme Flying School provide. This maneuver is not only fun… it’s ECONOMICAL!