November 2009 Issue

Landing On Roads?

In an emergency, that highway below you might look like a great place to land. But is it? Donít miss our next online discussion with two pilots whoíve ďbeen there and done that.Ē

Off-airport landings are a perennial subject whenever pilots get together, and rightly so. Among the topics inevitably coming up will be whether or not to land on a paved road. After all, you probably took off from pavement; why not try to land on it, too, that too-quiet engine in front of or beside you notwithstanding? We last looked at this overall topic in our December 2006 issue. In that article, we basically concluded thereís no free lunch: While a paved road may offer the smoothest, most-familiar surface, it also poses a set of problems others may notólike wires, cars, signs, utility poles and other things you may or may not see before hitting them. While you should be able to spot vehicular traffic and avoid it (presuming one or more drivers donít do something dumb, which isnít always a safe presumption), spotting wires, roadside signage and the odd telephone pole from the air isnít the easiest thing to do. If you donít believe us, try it the next time youíre out committing aviation. Donít forget youíll be a bit distracted and may not have much time dealing with a real emergency: troubleshooting, cinching belts, calming passengers and performing all the other tasks required after the airplane soils the bed.

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