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Ride along as we do some short field landings in a Piper Warrior (PA28)
1st landing under best possible short field landing conditions with strong head wind in winter.
(with lots of runway to spare)
2nd under nearly the worst possible conditions on hot summer day with no wind!
(with NO runway to spare) 😛
We were on a casual “Sunday flight” with minimal planning… just out for a boot to a local airport for a lunch stop and to swap seats with my pilot buddy.
*** HOT HUMID day – ZERO wind + Density alt was over 1200′
We had studied the airport and knew there was a short displaced threshold on 23, but didn’t know exactly why…
We didn’t really care because we were expecting the longer northerly runway 32, as that is the direction took off from at home base.
NOTE: I had only flown into this airport once before BUT had never landed on the shorter runway 05/23.
Wind was light and variable, so we expected there’d be no need to use the short runway.
Upon arrival it became clear local traffic was using the short runway 23, so I felt the need to fit in and use the “active”.
My pilot buddy reminded me that it was the short runway and made sure I was primed to go round if the approach was less than perfect. However, other than that, we didn’t formally think through all the variables that would make landing 23 a significant challenge this day.
I couldn’t see displaced threshold markings on final, and stopped worrying about that, even though I did notice the visual illusion related to the slopping terrain toward the runway, and a tall clump of trees directly in the way on short final.
Ultimately, I ended up flying a short field approach by feel as opposed to by formal procedure.
With zero head wind and a displaced threshold essentially making it a 1400 foot runway, there was not much room for error.
Add the fact that it is 40 feet wide, and there is no room to be off the center line either!
Luckily my approach was good and speed management was great, and I was lined up nicely.
I ended up touching down just before displaced threshold markings (didn’t even notice that until AFTER reviewing the video because the markings are so old and faded.)
Upon taxi back facing the approach path, the hill slopping down to the threshold is very apparent; what I was noticing on approach was not an illusion after all – good thing I didn’t let it affect my planning.
Bottom line, I pulled off a good short field landing despite NOT having mentally prepared to do it – A good outcome, but not a great process.
All this to say, my “Airmanship” was somewhat lacking on this flight.
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