When the airplane contacts the ground with a sharp impact as the result of an improper attitude or an excessive rate of sink, it tends to "bounce" back into the air. Though the airplane's tires and shock struts provide some springing action, the airplane does not bounce as does a rubber ball. Instead, it rebounds into the air because the wing's angle of attack was abruptly increased, producing a sudden addition of lift (Fig. 10-4).
The abrupt change in angle of attack is the result of inertia instantly forcing the airplane's tail downward when the main wheels contact the ground sharply. The severity of the "bounce" depends on the airspeed at the moment of contact and the degree to which the angle of attack or pitch attitude was increased.
Since a bounce occurs when the airplane makes contact with the ground before the proper touchdown attitude is attained, it is almost invariably accompanied by the application of excessive back elevator pressure. This is usually the result of the pilot realizing too late that the airplane is not in the proper attitude and attempting to establish it just as the second touchdown occurs.
The corrective action for a bounce is the same as for ballooning and similarly depends on its severity. When it is very slight and there is no extreme change in the airplane's pitch attitude, a followup landing may be executed by applying sufficient power to cushion the subsequent touchdown, and smoothly adjusting the pitch to the proper touchdown attitude.
In the event a very slight bounce is encountered while landing with a crosswind, crosswind correction must be maintained while the next touchdown is made. Remember that since the subsequent touchdown will be made at a slower airspeed, the upwind wing will have to be lowered even further to compensate for drift.
When a bounce is severe, the safest procedure is to EXECUTE A GO-AROUND IMMEDIATELY. No attempt to salvage the landing should be made. Full power should be applied while simultaneously maintaining directional control, and lowering the nose to a safe climb attitude. The go-around procedure should be continued even though the airplane may descend and another bounce may be encountered. It would be extremely foolish to attempt a landing from a bad bounce since airspeed diminishes very rapidly in the nose high attitude and a stall may occur before a subsequent touchdown could be made.
Extreme caution and alertness must be exercised any time a bounce occurs, but particularly when there is a crosswind. The crosswind correction will almost invariably be released by inexperienced pilots when the airplane bounces. When one main wheel of the airplane strikes the runway, the other wheel will touch down immediately afterwards, and the wings will become level. Then, with no crosswind correction as the airplane bounces, the wind will cause the airplane to roll with the wind, thus exposing even more surface to the crosswind and drifting the airplane more rapidly.