A good pilot is always learning -- how many times have you heard
this old standard throughout your flying career? There is no truer
statement in all of flying (well, with the possible exception of
"there are no old, bold pilots.") It's part of what makes aviation
so exciting for all of us... just when you think you've seen it
all, along comes a scenario you've never imagined.
Aero-News has called upon the expertise of Thomas P. Turner,
master CFI and all-around-good-guy, to bring our readers -- and us
-- daily tips to improve our skills as aviators, and as
representatives of the flying community. Some of them, you may have
heard before... but for each of us, there will also be something we
might never have considered before, or something that didn't
"stick" the way it should have the first time we memorized it for
the practical test.
It is our unabashed goal that "Aero-Tips" will help our readers
become better, safer pilots -- as well as introducing our
ground-bound readers to the concepts and principles that keep those
strange aluminum-and-composite contraptions in the air... and allow
them to soar magnificently through it.
Look for our daily Aero-Tips segments, coming each day to you
through the Aero-News Network. Suggestions for future Aero-Tips are
always welcome, as are additions or discussion of each day's tips.
Remember... when it comes to being better pilots, we're all in this
A prospective flight student asked:
How difficult will the transition to an E55 [Baron] be,
[and] can I safely get in a 3000ft strip at my lake house?
The inquirer was really asking three questions:
- How hard is it to transition to the Baron?
- What is the runway requirement for a Baron? and
- Can I land the Baron safely on my specific runway?
The first question is outside the scope of this article (short
answer: not terribly, for the dedicated and disciplined pilot).
To answer the second I looked at the inquirer’s location
and the airplane’s Pilot’s Operating Handbook, roughing
out a worst-case scenario for maximum weight on a hit summer day. I
came up with a projected 2500 feet requirement to come to a stop
after clearing a 50-foot obstacle. This leaves another 500 feet of
runway at the pilot’s home, or a 20 percent margin. Close,
but it sounds acceptable.
Except that, to benefit from that
margin the pilot must land on the very runway threshold. If there
are any obstacles he’ll have to deftly cross them at minimum
height and right on “book” airspeed, with a hefty sink
rate (the Beech books assume an 800-foot-per-minute descent rate on
final approach, a real “elevator descent”). A shallower
angle will put the touchdown point further from the
threshold…ever foot taken off the 3000 foot figure that
provides the comfort margin.
The runway may be served by any number of different visual glidepath indicating
systems. Keep to the visual glideslope and you should
be okay, right? Sure, you’ll clear the obstacles, but it will
virtually assure (in this case) that the Baron can’t be
landed safely. Visual glideslope indicators like VASIs, PAPIs and
the like are usually aligned to aim the airplane to a landing spot
about 1000 feet from the runway threshold—providing a buffer
for “coming up short” but using up a lot of the runway
in the process. In fact, in the case of this Baron, perfectly
following a visual glidepath indicator to touchdown will result in
needing 1000 feet more runway than available to stop.
Aero-tip of the day: Runway length alone is not
the determinant of whether an airplane can be landed safely.
Practice using the Pilots Operating Handbook technique assumptions
before committing to the real thing, and remember the design and
limitations of visual approach aids.