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short field question

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stranger to the ground
Dec 3, 2001
hi everybody ,working on my cfi i keep discovering new questions
i just read that for a shortfield approach and landing with a obstacle that the pilot should start his downwind to base turn when 30 degrees from the touchdown point instead of the 45 degree point ------- what do you use any input will be helpful
That advice is about turning an early base. There is no good reason to do this, other than if local terrain or conditions dictate that you must.

Fly the pattern as normal, using the appropriate airspeed and power setting to conduct the short field landing.

For a reality check, while many instructors teach different techniques for short field work, and soft field work, both are typically the same. That is, short fields are often soft, and soft fields are often short. Due to the nature of both, short soft fields are often surrounded by terrain and obstacles. One can instruct in the theoretical niceties of each technique, but the simple fact is that truly short fields are often soft fields, or prone to be soft fields, and must be treated as such.

Any pattern work to a short field landing (or soft field landing) should be treated the same way a normal proceedure is conducted. Make it uniform, stabilized, and seek to achieve a good landing based on a stabilized approach. No diving, no pushing over, nothing unusual or sudden.

Very often students are taught to make a short field landing by touching down, and getting on the brakes. This makes a lot of sense for a short hard surface, but is not a wise idea on grass, gravel, dirt, mud, snow, or ice. Getting into such a situation on a hard surface, the airplane will certainly stop in a much shorter distance than it can take off, meaning that such a landing is to be reserved for only the most dire of emergencies. Therefore, except in all but the most unusual situations, such a technique has little value. If one cannot take off from a location, one should not land there (forced landings being the only real exception, and seldom do these present themselves on short hard surfaces; normally short soft surfaces, where braking is of little effect, or is counterproductive).

Much more critical to actual use (especially in the event of a forced landing) is the ability to land short, without brakes, but land soft, and land straight. A big part of this is being able to hit the same spot every single time with power, without power, with flaps, without flaps, etc. Students should be familiar with performing this to locations other than a runway, so that they understand the sight picture and feel of preparing to put the airplane down somewhere other than the airport. (If the student sees this for the first time in a real emergency, heaven help the frightened student, and the foolish instructor who never did his or her job).

Fly a normal pattern to landing, and make it stabilized. Don't get too slow; it won't make the landing a whole lot shorter, and if one does come up a little short on an obstacle without power available, one will need an airspeed reserve to clear the obstacle.

Good luck in your studies!
That sounds like a trick to make the student high on the approach. Typically a short field landing will be over an obstacle, so the student will want to fly a steeper than normal approach. I wouldn't teach it that way, by the time the student gets to short field landings they should be able to judge their turn to base well enough to put themselves high on their own, without any tricks.

Soft fields are commonly short. However, I believe it's a mistake to teach private students this. It's hard enough for them to master regular shorts and softs, and it goes beyond what the PTS asks for. If they want to learn work on short soft fields they can do it after their rating or during their commercial.
I guess it depends what your goal is as an instructor. To teach "just enough" to get through the checkride, or actually turn out safe proficient pilots. I know which type I would want and tried to be when I CFI'd full time.
45-degree base

It's probably all technique, but I've never heard of that one. I always told my students to keep their downwinds and bases as normal as possible.

I would continue turning base on the 45, just as you have been doing, of course, adjusting it for wind.
I was taught that a short field, soft field, normal and no flap landing are all the same with a couple of exceptions.

The short field landing is flown at a slightly slower airspeed once on final (check the PTS for the speed but its something like 1.2 Vso) is always full flaps, and must clear a 50' obstacle at the end of the runway (its hard not to be at least 50' over the threshold) The pattern however does not change. You don't come in steeper, you just have to calculate your landing spot. To do that...figure your landing distance with both the total overall distance and the roll out distance. Once you figure the difference of that...you have the distance down the runway to put your imaginary landing point. If you fly a 3 degree glide slope to that point you will clear the obstacle, its factored into the performance charts.

A soft field landing (I know you didn't ask but it was brought up) is just landing with some power and keeping the nose off the ground as long as possible.

This is sort of what the FAA wants to hear. Basically follow the PTS, POM and the AIM and you'll have no problems with the checkride. For real life, the first poster has a lot of good points.

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