Acknowledgements:  AIR FACTS/Tom Curran

 “I was out at my local airport one recent afternoon, watching planes beat up (or should I say pulverize), the traffic pattern, and I saw something that really made me wonder what folks were thinking. 

 I observed one locally-based Cessna 172 try to execute a simulated engine-out emergency landing on our 5,000 ft-long runway. I could see that there were two people in the airplane, but I can’t say for sure that it involved a CFI giving dual instruction.

 They flew a very tight base-to-final turn, and were still pretty high over the threshold; I’d estimate around 200-300 ft AGL.

 The winds were light, and it looked like they had partial flaps extended. Since they were obviously going to land very long, and really did have power available, I was betting they would abort this attempt and try it again.

 I was a bit surprised when they continued their descent to the runway. (Hmmm… Maybe they really do have a problem…) I don’t remember seeing anything that looked like full-flaps coming down, but they appeared to try a fairly weak attempt at a forward slip when they got down to maybe 100 ft.

 By this time, they were way past mid-field, and I could just barely see them over the curve of the earth (I was sitting adjacent to the approach end). I’m guessing they landed about 4000 feet down the runway.  So, I was even more surprised when they executed a touch-and-go out of it!

 “So what?” you may ask; “A 172 can get airborne in less than 1000 feet.”  That’s not the point. The point is: Don’t create a possible real emergency situation while simulating an emergency.  If you’re doing engine-out landings, give yourself a reasonable distance to put it down on the runway; after all, you’re practicing for a possible worst-case scenario of having to land in a very small, tight, confined space. 

 If you’re not going to make it, penalize yourself by going around (which we also need to practice), and trying it again, and again, and again, as necessary.  If you have a real emergency, and end up with 5000 ft of runway available – great!

 Continuing that approach to a touch-and-go served no purpose, except to put that crew in peril if their touch-and-go didn’t go as expected”.


Tony Birth