August 29, 2012
By Dan Namowitz
You can practice short-field landings on a long, wide runway, but will you have mastered the technique when trying to land in truly tight confines?
At six airports in Alaska this summer, there has been a better way to train—and pilots who have participated are being asked to share their thoughts about the program.
At those airports, pilots have had the opportunity to experience realistic training on practice strips 600 to 800 feet long and 25 feet wide marked off by volunteers on much longer runways. The strips provide an effective—and safe—way to practice short-field landing techniques on a measured surface that lets the pilot evaluate the results.
AOPA is asking pilots who have used the practice strips at Fairbanks International Airport, Goose Bay, Nenana, Palmer, Soldotna, and Wasilla to provide feedback by taking an online survey about the experimental program. The effort has been focused on improving pilot proficiency and reducing the number of off-field accidents that occur each year related to landings on gravel bars, tundra benches, and other unimproved or primitive locations. How can the effort be improved?
“While this program can’t replicate all the variables pilots will encounter at back-country locations, providing a place to practice may go a long way toward showing them their limits before they head out to hunting camp,” said Tom George, AOPA Alaska regional manager.
George encouraged pilots who have not yet gone in for the training to give it a try before snowfall covers the markings for the year.
Organizations who have worked to make the program possible include the FAA, The Ninety-Nines, Alaska Airmen’s Association, Alaska Airports Association, Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, Alaskan Aviation Safety Foundation, AOPA, and the individual airports.
Department of Transportation,
Takeoffs and Landings,
Short and Soft Field
With a closing speed of about 900 knots, Air Force pilots on a training mission have seconds to aim and shoot heat-seeking and radar guided missiles at a drone target. Their success came from repeated rehearsals. But as author Larry Brown writes, “there is nothing like the real thing to gain experience.”
AOPA President Mark Baker flew four women and girls on two flights March 4 as part of Women of Aviation Worldwide Week activities designed to introduce more women and girls to aviation.
AOPA staff members updated attendees of the Montana Aviation Conference Feb. 27 through March 1 on the association's involvement in issues that affect pilots.
AOPA thanks our members for their continued support in protecting the freedom to fly.