Pilot's tip of the week

Landing at Unfamiliar Airfields

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Subscriber question:

"I went to a small airport new to me and couldn't find a windsock when I flew overhead. The airport had no AWOS, and the uncertainty made me uncomfortable on landing. It worked out, but how should I have handled this?" — Anonymous

Bob:

“I hate to be overly simplistic, but we can really treat this landing just as we do all our landings if we’re properly prepared.

First of all, have we done our planning? If we did we should certainly have a general idea of what winds to expect at our landing site.

What was the wind doing to you as you approached the field? What is it doing to the trees, smoke, etc.?

Why not plan on doing a low approach to the field to familiarize yourself with conditions if you are at all unsure?

Most of all fly the airplane. If you fly a precise pattern, you will know how the wind is impacting you and respond accordingly. If at any time you are uncomfortable with conditions, go around.”

Have you done a low approach (a.k.a. low pass) to check the runway and landing conditions at an unfamiliar airport?

(NEW) VFR Mastery scenario #67 “A Swift Decision” is now available. A pre-takeoff briefing exists to remove hesitation and doubt from split-second emergency decisions after takeoff. The problem is that most real-world departures present several opportunities to go off script. Some of those improvisations could turn an off-field crash into an uneventful runway landing—or a disaster. Watch the Intro video.

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