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How to Perform a Short Field Landing




Transcript from the video:

Hey everyone. It’s Liz from Thrust Flight.  Today we’re gonna be discussing the proper technique for the short field landing. 

Setting Up for a Short Field Landing Cessna 172

All right Lan so today I’m gonna demonstrate to you the short field landing here in our 172. So we’re on our downwind for our runway and we’re at our B point. So I’m gonna go and pull the power back to 1700 RPMs or so. 

I’m readjusting my pitch, cuz I just wanna slow down and begin a gradual descent. So for me that was a little bit of pitch up as I reduce that power, A really normal pattern up to this point. Okay. 

All right. We’re waiting till we’re 45 degrees past our touchdown point. We’re beginning our base turn. 

So just like every landing approach, it’s important to be stabilized. They actually call that out specifically in the standards for this maneuver, for your checkride, that you have to have stabilized approach. We talk a little bit about how the approach is not that different at this point, turning from downwind to base from a normal approach to landing.

So you need to make sure you’re doing all those good behaviors and good habits that you’ve been practicing thus far in your training. We’ll make a call here. 

Radio call: Rockwall area traffic thrust four eighty four left base for runway one seven Rockwall. 

All right. I’m surveying the runways. I come around because I wanna judge my altitude. Am I high? Am I low? Does it all look? 

So we’re playing to land right on the runway numbers one seven, because we’re simulating this as a short field. So altitude wise, I feel pretty good. We’re a little fast. So I’m gonna go ahead and put in a notcha flaps. So let’s get speed under control.

What is a Short Field Landing

You’ll notice I said I was gonna land on the runway numbers because it’s a short field landing. Basically simulating the runway is so short that we can’t waste any pavement because there wasn’t much to begin with. 

In the test standards, as you’re preparing for your checkride on this maneuver, it says landing on the designated point or runway numbers or runway threshold.

So you wanna make sure that you’re talking about that with your flight instructors, you’re practicing so that you can land on a specific point, right? That it’s not just we’re aiming for the general beginning of the runway. It gets really specific for this maneuver.  

[Need help mastering runway markings? Check out our guide on runway markings.]

Anticipating the turn a little bit of rudder, a little bit of aileron. 

Short Field Landing Final Approach

As we roll out on final here, we can see we’re slightly high for it. But that’s okay. Cuz we’ve got another two notches of flaps. So I’m gonna go ahead and put in the second notch here as we roll out on final. 20 degrees, flaps.

Radio call: Rockwall area traffic thrust 4 84 on final for runway one seven Rockwall. 

Okay, I’m reducing my RPM so that I can increase that sink rate. What I’m looking for here on final for the short field landing technique is an approach speed of 60 knots and full flaps. So I’m gonna go ahead and put in flaps. The manual for this aircraft says 61 knots. So I was rounding. 

Short Field Landing

Airspeed on Final Approach for Short Field Landing

Okay. So you notice I talked specifically about the airspeed we’re gonna fly. The final approach at. Your aircraft might have a checklist in the manual specifically for short field landings. So that’s what I’m referencing here when I say it says 61 knots. That’s exactly what Cessna has designated for the short field approach speed.

Your aircraft might have a different number if there’s no number designated, you’re supposed to do 1.3 times your VSO speed. The reason why the speed is so important is it’s the key to landing at the point you want on the runway. If I come in with extra airspeed  I’m gonna miss my point. I will have too much energy as I’m approaching and land way too long.

If I’m slow, it means I might not have enough energy to meet it, or that I’d be sinking so quickly now I’ll be too low as I’m approaching the runway. So the speed is quite important here. We don’t wanna be too close to a stall increasing risk, but we don’t wanna have excess speed because that means extra landing distance.

 Okay. So you can feel we’re starting to sink a little bit more as I reduced that power. We’re showing just a little bit slower than the approach speed I want. So I can lower the nose, which is good. I wanna lose altitude and I can add a teeny bit of power to help hold the airspeed there. 

So when we’re on final, it takes a pretty coordinated effort between power adjustments and pitch adjustments to keep the airspeed that I want.

Every time I change the power, I’m probably gonna need to change the pitch to hold the airspeed and descent rate that I’d like. When I change the pitch, it’s gonna change my airspeed. And now I might need a power adjustment as well. So it’s really each time I adjust one, I seem to need to adjust the other to keep it exactly on target.

So I’m trying to call out specifically here when I’m making a pitch adjustment or when I’m making a power adjustment. So in this example, I said, I’m too slow. The nose was slightly high. I was below my target airspeed or the airspeed I wanted. So I lowered the nose. Now I’m building airspeed, which is good.

I was slow. That’s my desired result. And I’m losing altitude, which was also good. We were still high at this point in the approach. So a desired outcome and correction.

I’m really just using my pitch and power to manage my sink rate. I wanna be coming down at that slower airspeed. But losing enough, altitude to come right for the runway numbers.

 Blowing the nose a little bit, adding a little bit of power so I can increase back to 61 knots right on. 

Aiming Point and Touchdown Point

All right. So I want you to focus on this view where we’re looking ahead in the aircraft, straight at the runway, as we’re approaching, there’s two really important points for this short field landing.

There’s an aiming point and a touchdown point. Let me tell you about the difference between the two. An aiming point is where I’m pointing the nose. I tell my students, it’s like a fisherman is standing there and he’s caught your propeller on his fishing line. And he’s pulling you in directly to that point.

That’s where I’m aiming. It looks like if I didn’t flare that’s where my airplane would crash into, the aiming point. My touchdown point will actually be slightly beyond that because when we come in for a landing, we flare, right, we raise the nose, prepare the airplane for a proper pitch attitude for touchdown and, float a little bit.

Short Field Landing Aiming Point

And that flare carries us slightly further. Causing a touchdown point. So it’s important on the short field landing procedure that we practice choosing proper aiming points.  Am I gonna float? Am I approaching an appropriate height on final or do I need to make adjustments? And that is controlled by the airspeed again on final.

I can’t tell you that enough times. That’s the most common error I see is improper airspeed management, usually being too fast on the final approach for a Cessna 172 short field landing.

So look again, here, it looks like my nose is pointed right at that first arrow in the displaced threshold. That’s my aiming point. My airplane’s gonna float about 400 feet or so in the 1 72. And will take me to my touchdown point of the runway numbers. Let’s look 

Alright. I’m producing power to idle. I’ll flare still like normal. Then we should touch down right on our numbers.

Landing the Short Field Landing

Okay. So if we stop right here, if you’ll watch closely, we come past the runway threshold. We come to the numbers, one seven, our runway numbers, which was our designated and desired touchdown point. And I actually land just slightly past. Them. We’re not very far, but it’s not perfectly on the numbers. 

Touchdown Standards for Short Field Landing

The test standards for this maneuver allow for a small buffer.

They say that you’ll land on your desired touchdown point or one within 100 feet beyond if you’re the commercial pilot or for the private pilot it’s land on your designated touchdown point or within 200 feet beyond. So they’re not expecting perfection, but it is a very tight standard that they’re keeping you to, because this is an important skill as you fly into shorter runways. 

Breaking on Short Field Landing

All right. Still maintaining directional control on the rollout here. And we should be applying max breaking, pulling all the way back on the elevator and we’ll take the earliest turnoff we can make. 

Okay. So this is where I see the next most common error on the C172 short field landing is the after-landing procedures. 

Students come in, they perform the touchdown and they’re so relieved that we touchdown on their point or within the test standards for it that we forget we’re still flying airplane and we don’t do any of the stopping and breaking procedures required for this. 

So imagine you’re landing on a really short runway. You touch down near the beginning of it. You would still wanna be getting on the brakes and stopping your aircraft in a pretty short amount of time, because there’s not much runway to continue rolling down.

So if you listen, I talk about a few other procedures I’m doing to accomplish the maximum breaking there. Still maintaining directional control on the rollout here. And we should be applying max breaking. 

I’m pulling all the way back on the elevator to increase my breaking efficiency, pulling all the way back on the elevator.

I’m also applying heavy brake pressure, and this is something that takes practice. How do I apply enough brake pressure that it’s the maximum, but not too much that I’m gonna stop my wheels from turning and lock up the brakes. You don’t wanna be skidding down the runway or causing a flat spot on your tires from breaking too heavily, but I do wanna break quickly.

So this takes some practice with your instructor that we wanna have the maximum breaking. Enough that you’re stopping the aircraft in short order, but not applying too much that it’s causing damage to the aircraft or the tires, et cetera. 

Okay. So that concludes the short field landing video. 

Airspeed Requirements for Short Field Landing

The last piece I wanna share with you is the airspeed requirement as I’m approaching on final. For the test standards, it says the private pilot has to hold the designated airspeed from your manual or the VSO times 1.3 at plus 10 minus five.

So you have a short buffer there or if you’re the commercial pilot it’s plus five minus five, knots. 

That about wraps up our video on short field landings. We hope you enjoyed it. If you have questions or if you like the video, leave us a comment and please subscribe or ring the bell. So you don’t miss out on future videos.

It is possible to practice short field landings with touch and go’s.

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One response to “How to Perform a Short Field Landing”

  1. Tina

    I’m a student pilot and this short field landing article/video is very helpful. I’ve watched a few of your videos on youtube and appreciate your attention to detail. Thank you, Liz.

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