When The Bottom Drops Out

Any of us can bounce a landing. Its what comes next that counts.

The plane was configured for landing with full flaps, a rich-enough mixture and the prop set for high RPM. I was decelerating from crossing the fence at 70 KIAS. As I pulled off some of the remaining power and began to flare, the bottom fell out about 25 feet above the runway. I already had established a nose-up attitude for the tricycle-gear airplanes touchdown, but our descent rate suddenly increased sharply as the gusty crosswind basically disappeared at the wrong time. To compensate, I pulled back on the yoke even more, increasing our pitch attitude in the hope doing so would compensate for the sudden loss of altitude and I could salvage a smooth touchdown. But it was not to be. For the first time in a long time, I really bounced the landing. Both main struts contacted the paved runway at the same time, compressed and then extended, pushing us back in the air. There we were, maybe six or eight feet in above the runway, with idle power and decaying airspeed. What to do?
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