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Thread: "If you can't make the field, you're too low."

  1. #1
    N404CX's Avatar
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    "If you can't make the field, you're too low."

    When I got my tail wheel endorsement a few years back, my instructor asserted that you should always have enough altitude to reach the field if you loose your engine during the approach.

    That sounds good to me, but I see a number of videos online that do not seem to support this recommendation; that is, they're dragging it in.

    I'm not good at math, so I don't know how being on the glide slope, or other altitude aid, (VASI) would compare with the glide angle of the aircraft.

    All things considered, do you think "If you can't make the field, you're too low." is a good rule to follow Thanks. ~glen

  2. #2

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    Normally yes, but if you want to land on a short bush area you probably need to drag it in. Just part of the risk. Try to avoid words like "always".
    For normal runways I like to make the approach high enough so I can at least make the grass threshold.
    Last edited by Bill Berson; 04-21-2018 at 11:47 PM.

  3. #3

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    +1 to normally yes. My normal pattern keeps me within gliding distance of the runway. I pull power to idle when abeam the numbers on downwind then 'glide' through base and final to touchdown on the numbers. I consider it a 'failure' if I have to add power due to miscalculating winds, etc.

  4. #4
    George Sychrovsky's Avatar
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    I compare the difference between the two approaches to the difference between piloting and airplane driving ,
    If you do it S3flyer describes every landing is an engine out practice , and if (when) your engine actually quits , you don't have to think about how and what to do to land it , you will just land the way you always do, be it a runway or a field.
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  5. #5

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    99% of the time when you're flying, there is no runway in gliding distance. Why do we pretend the traffic pattern is the only place where the engine might quit?

  6. #6

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    This is one of the reasons I'm working towards what amounts to a parachute drop onto the end of the runway, as my aircraft has the glide angle of a rock.

    However, not every strip is the same, and not all conditions are ripe for it.

    I tend to close up to the airport on the downwind, though, as I'm in a very slow aircraft.

    When the winds are closing in on max crosswind I tend to shallow up the approach a bit, which requires power.

    @ Marty - the wife was noticing my flight paths as described on the map in CloudAhoy and asked if there was a reason I tend to avoid flying over trees in favor of skirting them with fields to one side or another. Yep, dear, there is.
    The opinions and statements of this poster are largely based on facts and portray a possible version of the actual events.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Frank Giger View Post
    This is one of the reasons I'm working towards what amounts to a parachute drop onto the end of the runway, as my aircraft has the glide angle of a rock.
    Lot of planes have that same glide angle!

  8. #8

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    LOL, one of my friends was helping another transition into a Stol 750 (and he's a great pilot but not super familiar) and they chopped the throttle on it from a high position over final.

    "Oooh, Mike, watch this," I said to my buddy, "Here comes a classic bounce!"

    We were not disappointed!

    Some aircraft need a little power on landing to grease it.
    The opinions and statements of this poster are largely based on facts and portray a possible version of the actual events.

  9. #9
    Sam Buchanan's Avatar
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    High drag aircraft such as what Frank and I have don't require power for a smooth landing following a steep glide, but they do require very precise speed management and timing. It takes discipline and a lot of practice to keep the nose pointed at the ground until you are practically on the runway before breaking the glide and greasing the landing. You only get one chance for the smooth landing before airspeed decays. Carrying just a little power vastly increases the size of the airspeed target and makes landings much less.....exciting.
    A bounce occurs when the plane is flared too high and airspeed and inspiration are depleted at the same time.
    Last edited by Sam Buchanan; 04-26-2018 at 12:51 PM.
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  10. #10

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    At a busy airport and/or with a control tower the requested pattern can often take you too far way from the runway to glide in without power. But there is no reason to descend early. Doing so annoys the neighbors and leaves you vulnerable to wind shear and a mechanical or fuel burp. Better to stay high.

    Those of us who fly airplanes that glide like manhole covers know that the intent of practicing power off approaches at an airport is to keep fresh our knowledge of glide performance. Engines are reliable so it is easy to let that knowledge get stale. Repetition keeps that knowledge in a place in our brain where it is right there when needed. Kind of like why the every 6 month's sim rides that Part 121 crew have to do seems to be a series of emergencies rather than just easy hops where normal procedures are demonstrated.

    "Why do we pretend the traffic pattern is the only place..."

    There are some places where you can practice your power-off approaches to farmer's fields or dirt roads. Where I live in the woods, I don't think that's practical. The local flight schools have their students aim at the private strips, like the one I live on. But that's as good as it gets. If they really do lose their engine they will be demonstrating their tree-top landing skills. Of course, on their long cross-country flight they will see geography that is friendlier to sick airplanes.

    Best of luck,

    Wes

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