September 2010 Issue

Going Soft

Soft-field operations mean reduced performance, but you also need to adopt different techniques, depending on your airplane. Airspeed control is key.

My first time landing on something other than pavement was with an instructor in a Piper Arrow. I had yet to earn my private certificate, and we were out doing a combination of familiarizing me with a complex/high-performance airplane and transporting some items for the FBO. The most memorable occasion also involved an instructor: We were returning from a spin-training session to a grass strip just soaked by a passing shower. He landed long, locked the 152ís brakes in standing water and we sluiced our way to within 30 feet of the fence at the far end. More than anything, that was a demonstration of how not to do it.

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