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Technique: The forward slip

Your secret weapon for steeper descents

The forward slip is a handy technique. Yet, after the checkride, pilots don’t practice it enough and often don’t think of it when the perfect circumstance arises.
Click image to enlarge.

Maybe that’s because the main ingredient of a forward slip is a cross-controlled airplane. Generally, we are taught to avoid cross-controlling an airplane. But in a forward slip, we cross-control, safely, for a very good reason: to steepen the airplane’s descent angle to clear an obstruction on final. That’s really helpful at short, obstructed runways. A forward slip can be an essential skill for engine-out, off-field landings.

Before practicing a forward slip, consult the pilot’s operating handbook. Some Cessna models prohibit or urge caution when performing a forward slip with full flaps. Warn passengers when you’re about to perform a slip. They’ll be alarmed if they don’t know you’re flying this way for a reason.

Airman certification standards

Task M. Forward Slip to a Landing

To determine that the applicant exhibits satisfactory knowledge, risk management, and skills associated with a forward slip to a landing.

The applicant demonstrates understanding of:

  • Concepts of energy management during a forward slip approach.
  • Effects of atmospheric conditions, including wind, on approach and landing performance.
  • Wind correction techniques during forward slip approaches.
  • When and why a forward slip approach is used.

Risk Management
The applicant demonstrates the ability to identify, assess and mitigate risks, encompassing:

  • Selection of runway or approach path and touchdown area based on pilot capability, aircraft performance and limitations, available distance, and wind.
  • Effects of:
    a. Crosswind
    b. Wind shear
    c. Tailwind
    d. Wake turbulence
    e. Runway surface/condition
  • Abnormal operations, to include planning for rejected landing and go-around.
  • Collision hazards, to include aircraft, terrain, obstacles, and wires.
  • Low altitude maneuvering/stall/spin.
  • Distractions, loss of situational awareness, and/or improper task management.
  • Forward slip operations, including fuel flowage, tail stalls with flaps, and lack of airspeed control.

The applicant demonstrates the ability to:

  • Complete the appropriate checklist.
  • Make radio calls as appropriate.
  • Plan and follow a flightpath to the selected landing area considering altitude, wind, terrain, and obstructions.
  • Select the most suitable touchdown point based on wind, landing surface, obstructions, and aircraft limitations.
  • Position airplane on downwind leg, parallel to landing runway.
  • Correctly configure the airplane.
  • As necessary, correlate crosswind with direction of forward slip and transition to side slip for landing. Touch down within -0/+400 feet from the specified touchdown point with minimum side drift.
Jill W. Tallman
Jill W. Tallman
AOPA Technical Editor
AOPA Technical Editor Jill W. Tallman is an instrument-rated private pilot who is part-owner of a Cessna 182Q.

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