Jump to content

How short a field?

Roger Lee

Recommended Posts

Let's talk about how much runway do you need to land. What is the shortest you have ever landed on? Let's here from all you other CT pilots. <br style=""> <br style="">


Here are some considerations for a short runway landing for a Flight Design CT and will differ from plane to plane and even from person to person. Landing at these short runways are at your own risk.


Many people in rural areas or overseas in the UK and Europe land in these distances on a regular basis. A challenge from our UK friends is what spurred me to practice and play with these short fields.


This question is really one that has a few different facets. For me it is 300m or 1000'. We need to look at a few things here, your own flying skills, training, runway condition, atmospheric conditions, aircraft landing configuration, approach and some good judgment when you do pick a short runway. Let’s not leave out our buddy the wind. Let's look at a few variables.

First what is the runway made of: asphalt, dirt or nice energy absorbing grass. Grass a little long would be best. Plus something to think about while you are sizing this up is how wide is it? Will it allow for a little error to the left or right, something to consider. What is on either end of this runway? Is it flat off the end of the runway or does it have tress? Can I make a flat approach or does it have to be steep due to obstructions on the ends. If only one end has an obstruction that steepens your approach then maybe the other end is a better choice to land.

Ok, here is a big item, your own personal training or practice time. When at longer runways practice and practice again hitting a specific target. Learn to set those wheels down just as close as possible to a pre-selected spot every time. Then pick a different spot and learn to hit that spot. This type of practice will always pay off especially if you ever have an engine out situation and need to land in a short distance. Most of us aren't going to have an 8K' runway below us if the engine ever goes out. If I was that lucky I would buy a lottery ticket. So when you approach this very short runway you will be able to set those wheels down in the first 10% or less of the runway and hit your exact spot. Remember any runway behind you is a waste of your runway and if you land too long may add to you pucker factor. Speaking of this pucker factor or being in the panic mode is the worst thing that can happen. When in the panic mode all logical and rational thought ceases. If you practiced like you play then you shouldn't have this problem because your mind will already be set up for this eventuality. So now you are practicing and it may be on a very long runway, but pick out two markers or the beginning of the runway to a marker to stop short by. Now what about the plane? Well landing at zero flaps and at 60 knots is not the best choice. The better choice is flaps at 30-40 and 50 knots. This will keep you slow enough to dump some of that energy quickly on approach and once you touch down. Those 30-40 nice big flaps are good air drag surfaces. Now for the approach, you will need to approach this particular short runway a little flatter on approach than you would normally tackle a nice long runway. A flatter approach, landing right at the beginning of the runway with 30-40 flaps at 50 knots should pretty much guarantee plenty of room to land. One little thing to look at in addition to this is, am I really heavy at max weight or do I weigh 150 lbs and only have half a tank of fuel and solo? This is less kinetic energy to stop. Know your brakes!! Do my brakes stop me well or do they fade with heat and I just keep coasting? Do I have to pump them. These are not conducive for short runways.


So we have looked at runway length, type of surface, flaps, speed, approach angle, brakes, weight and your skill level. Landing in 1000’ isn’t hard, but does put more demands on being a better pilot and setting yourself up for success early.


Then the inevitable happens! What if I’m too fast, too long, too high, bounce and too much brake or it just doesn’t feel right? Recognize these early!!!


Go Around!!!!



Try again and fix what might have been wrong with the first approach. Take as many approaches as necessary to get it right. Don’t sacrifice safety for your pride.


Practice, Practice, Practice. Hit your target and know your plane!



Link to comment
Share on other sites

All good advice. But also take into account that, for most of us, our practice is at homeplate or other similar airports that are long enough and wide enough that errors are not costly. Now you go to that haywire, maybe not paved, surrounded by terrain or trees, maybe even one way in and one way out airport and it's all about controlling that pucker factor. If going into that kind of strip is not something you do frequently, pucker factor will be a big player no matter how experienced you are. Add winds and DA and it could be interesting. Sometimes it might be better to pick another day.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There are lots of ways to do short field landings but in a CTSW or a CT2K you do have to be gentle on the gear. In my old Skyhawk I could use 1.2 x Vso (as opposed to 1.3 x Vso) and contact harder with more vertical speed. I never do this in my CTSW, no hard contacts permitted.


If you have a smooth big headwind upon landing no special technique is required. If you drag it in, behind the power curve, with lots of flaps, lots of power and a high angle of attack precession is easy but risk is high and it only works if no obstacles exist.


When obstacles exist and a steep approach is required then I like a closed throttle and a forward slip to increase precision.


If the field is both short and one way, then you cease aviating and begin gambling, don't do this.


Fly a practice approach to familiarize yourself. Look for a visual cue to aid in recognizing your abort point and get used to the go-around issues.


The most dangerous part is the take-off consider this before you decide to land.


If things go wrong don't freeze with a fist full of brake, continue to manipulate the controls.


my 2cents

Link to comment
Share on other sites

All very good points! Practice and more practice is the key. Try to get out of your comfort zone once in awhile when the conditions are favorable. Try those 30 and 40 flap spot landings on your normal runway until you can land near the same spot over and over. 50kts is a good "over the fence" target speed for 30 and 40 flap landings. From my experience you can actually land a little slower at 30 flaps vs 40 flaps at least in my CT. Mine stalls about 2 kts faster with 40 flaps power off. The CT can land really short especially with a little headwind. I land often on a 1000' dirt strip in Bisbee when the crosswinds are to high on the hardball. With 15-20kts headwind, I can get stopped in about 500' without using any brakes, and thats at DA's over 8000'. Speaking of DA, remember your true airspeed will be 10-20% higher than your indicated when you get to the higher DA airports effecting both takeoff and landing distances.


If anyone wants some practice with an instructor, come on down to Bisbee and I can help you out with all kinds of landings from short, soft, high DA and plenty of strong crosswinds!



Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Create New...