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Ready for take-off

How to pop an airplane's tire.

by Oops! Sorry!

(South Africa)

I learned first hand that applying brakes hard on asphalt causes tires to pop. It was an embarrassing lesson to learn.

I was doing a short field landing in someone else's C182. In my defense, the brakes on his aircraft were significantly sharper than the aircraft I was used to flying. I landed short, dumped the flaps and hit the brakes hard. Stopped in under a hundred meters. Felt great till we started trying to taxi. The C182 was just not interested.

Looking outside, we saw the cause was a very flat tire. So, holding up all other aircraft due to land, we called the Tower and confessed our dilemma. Minutes after we shut down, the local AMO came to our rescue, helped us push the aircraft off the runway, and changed the tire.

We started up, and as the aircraft was under power about to taxi back onto the runway, the other tire blew as well.

One really short landing, two blown tires, and one large bill. Oops.

No more hard braking on asphalt for me! The asphalt acts like a rough sandpaper and removes the rubber from the tire with remarkable efficiency, exposing the canvas which has very little resistance to sand-paper-like asphalt.

Grass does not have the same effect as asphalt on airplane tires. If the grass is a little long and damp, you may go slip-sliding around like you are running on ice in smooth flat-soled shoes, but you won't pop the tires.

Please learn this rather embarrassing lesson from me, and avoid trying it out yourself!

When an aircraft tire is flat, you can apply all the power you have available, the aircraft just will NOT budge! If you land and your tire goes flat during this time, it will feel like the idiot next to you is pushing the wrong rudder and brake really hard... until you realise they think you are being the idiot pushing the rudder and break really hard, and an "ah-ha" moment follows - "a flat tire is the culprit!" There is not much you can do, you just have to ride it out keeping the affected wheel as light as possible with the flight controls, for as long as possible IF you figure it out while you still have enough airspeed to make some sort of difference. A wide runway helps by giving you a very good chance of staying ON the runway while your aircraft is doing its own thing. I guess a flat tire while landing is the closest thing a nosewheel pilot gets to a groundloop!

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1 Comment

Lula Strong
Lula Strong
Jan 26, 2023

The most important thing is to have a safe trip, so it's best to check your car before you go and make sure it's in good condition. I was recently in a great suspension shop since mine broke down. Wide range of products at affordable prices.

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