I finally went back flying after a few weeks' absence...had a good reason mind you. I'm now a father!
Still can't believe it sometimes. I'm a dad of a most beautiful boy. He was born just a few weeks ago, his name is Niko and I can't wait to take him flying.
The day was perfect and my instructor decided to go over all the main exercises including steep turns, slow flight, forced landings and stalls. Considering the lengthy absence I did pretty well. I think.
I do however want to dedicate this post to forced landings. From my research it appears this is one of the 'most failed' exercises during the flight exam...so why?
The simple sequence goes something like:
1. Carburetor heat on (if you have one)
2. Set glide speed
3. Pick a field to land and plan your approach
3. Cause check
- Fuel (pick the tank with most amount of fuel)
- Ignition (on)
- Mixture (rich)
- Carburetor, Alt air. Throttle to full
if you fail
5. Radio - Mayday – Squawk 7700
6. Brief Passenger(s)
7. Try again. Secure engine (Ignition off, fuel off, etc)
9. Unlatch doors before touchdown, master switch off on final
10. Land safely
Only 10 steps, seems simple enough. So, what's the deal?
I know I oversimplified but where do you think is the issue ?
What do the flight examiners have to say about this exercise?
The forced landing item is not only about gliding to a point, it is also about managing an emergency situation, making correct decisions and following prescribed procedures that lead to a successful approach and landing.
It's all about you being able to manage. Key points according to the examiners' manual?
- Pick the field and stick to it- I know this may sound a bit daunting especially when you are at 3000 feel AGL and you can't make out much more than a house, but I after a few times practicing this exercise I noticed that it is better to pick an 'ok' field (rather than the 'perfect' field) that looks level, without too many obstacles and hopefully into the wind and not into the sun:) ...another tip, pick a field you know you can make. How? By estimating your glide distance - here is what I recommend. By the way, in most cases if you change your mind during the exam about your pick, you fail!
- Control/Approach - translates to 'make the field' - this is where your glide estimate comes in handy. It also helps to know your approximate altitude AGL so you can arbitrarily pick a point at which you need to start your base turn and final approach. The recommended point is usually 1000 AGL when you beam the touchdown point threshold. Tip - check out the map and the closest obstacle so you can calculate the ground elevation. Then, hands on flying as you practiced many times before.
- Cockpit Management - remember your safety checks including your 'cause check' above and overall good airmanship
Here is a good article I've found on the web from New Zealand that focuses on forced landing .
What are your experiences? Make sure to comment below.