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Short Field Landing

Short Field Landing

The idea here is to clear an imaginary (or real) 50′ obstacle and then land on a very “short” runway.  You will in reality be practicing this on a runway probably 4,000’+ long and not have any real obstacle to contend with.  Your job will be to simulate the runway is only say 1,500′ long (or whatever the minimum is for landing your aircraft according to the POH).

Your instructor will show you how to properly complete this, but as a general rule for many small GA airplanes you will:

  • Approach with full flaps
  • “Power On”
  • At a lower than normal approach speed and slightly higher angle of descent
  • Arrive over the runway at a speed that will produce minimal “float”
  • Use the reduction in power just a foot or so over the runway as a way to ensure you touchdown as close to your intended point of landing as possible
  • Upon touchdown, ensure power is at idle, retract flaps, and apply “simulated” maximum braking (don’t skid the tires!!!)

Important notes

It is essential that you be stabilized when performing a short field landing. A stabilized approach means being on speed and on glide path for your designated touchdown point. Being stabilized will prevent you from floating down the runway, leaving precious pavement behind you.

It is recommended that you fly a wider-than-normal traffic pattern if you are able to do so, to ensure you have ample space on final to stabilize the approach.

Practice clearing 50-foot obstacles with an instructor. The approach angle will be steeper as compared to flying a normal approach, and you’ll need to learn how to properly arrest your descent. Flare too early and you’ll stall. Flare too late and you’ll smack the pavement. Neither option is ideal.

Common Errors

  • Excess airspeed on final resulting in substantial float.
  • Excessive descent rate leading to a hard touchdown.
  • An unstabilized approach flying above and below the desired glide path.
  • Overbraking on the rollout, thus locking the brakes and potentially damaging the tires.
  • Setting the nosewheel down too hard (remember, your mains are designed to take the main impact of the landing.)