August 2009 Issue

True Short Field Landings

The last time you had to make a true short-field landing, did you remember planning, airspeed control and flying a stabilized approach?

The short-field approach and landing is something we all learned as student pilots. Commercial students get to show some additional expertise. However, both the private and even commercial requirements are a bit relaxed and don’t really prepare us for that maximum performance, white-knuckle experience of putting the airplane down on that postage stamp some joker sadistically calls a runway. When we say "short-field approach and landing," we’re really talking about two entirely different situations with different techniques. Obstacles at the approach end of the runway determine how we will make the approach—whether we can "drag it in" a few feet off the ground, or if we have to make a steep descent to clear the FAA’s standard-issue 50-foot tree right at the runway threshold.

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