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(article) Off-Airport Landings 2

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(article) Off-Airport Landings 2


Reviewing the FAA's Top 10 list of pilot error mishaps, yesterday we discussed off-airport landings-precautionary (such as when weather is moving in) and intentional (a preplanned landing on an unimproved surface). Today we'll look at another aspect of "selection of unsuitable terrain" as a mishap cause: what to do if the engine quits and you can't make it to a runway.


Spiral down


I consistently had trouble getting to a good landing spot in my early simulations of the engine-failure off-airport landing. I'd pick a field and aim for it, only to glide out of range during a circuit down to final approach. That's when someone mentioned that I should not fly to a field, I should pick a field very nearby and spiral down over it. This keeps you constantly within range of the field, so if you misjudge your glide you can always turn directly toward it and land.




This requires that you pick a field that is wide as well as long.


Best survivability comes when touchdown ground speed is as slow as possible. This requires landing into the wind; a misjudged glide and turn toward the field may result in landing at a higher groundspeed, increasing the risk of injury.


The Commercial Pilot Practical Test Standards include evaluation of this maneuver, the Steep Spiral (Area of Operation V Task B).


Getting real


Picking the field requires evaluation of a number of variables. There's an excellent <STRONG title=http://www.auf.asn.au/emergencies/forced_landing.>on-line narrative by John Brandon[/b] that warrants reading. Scroll down especially to section 3.3 and his description of criteria for choosing an emergency off-airport landing site.


Aero-tip of the day: Be on the lookout for potential emergency landing zones continually while in visual flight.



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