October 2008 Issue

Aircraft Takeoffs and Landing on Shorter Runways

Getting in and out of shorter strips means using pitch and power to nail your airspeeds.

Early on in my flying career, taking off automatically meant, absolutely free, one mandatory dead-stick landing. That’s because I was flying hang gliders and developed an easy appreciation for fitting into small spaces. Later, after someone thought to put a small engine and propeller on one and dub the results an ultralight, my well-honed, dead-stick landing skills proved handy too frequently. Thankfully, the engines used on ultralights in those early days have improved greatly but—like a catchy tune you just can’t shake after hearing it on the radio—I still think in terms of whether a nearby field is large enough for landing. Coincidentally and for the same reasons, short-field takeoff skills with an ultralight received equal attention. After all, once you "land out" in an ultralight and resolve whatever caused the engine to fail, you still need to get back to the car. Best of all, the better our short-field skills, the more options we had for operating, powerplant status aside. Once I moved up to flying larger, heavier, faster airplanes, those same instincts came with me, as did the comfort of knowing I had the ability to safely operate from fields that might make a knowledgeable passenger utter an audible, "Whoa…."

To continue reading this entire article you must be a paid subscriber.

Subscribe to Aviation Safety

The monthly journal of risk management and accident prevention, is packed with useful, timely information on basic and advanced technique, accident analysis and, most important, practical articles on how you can develop the judgment that will keep you in the air and out of the NTSB's files.

Already subscribe but haven't registered for all the benefits of the website? Click here.

Subscriber Log In

Forgot your password? Click Here.