“My instructor has me take simulated forced landings uncomfortably close to the ground. He says we must be sure I could have made my intended field. I think this invites an accident. Who's right?” — Andrew S.
“I’m a big believer in realistic training, but clearly the risk versus reward in this case just doesn’t add up. If you want to effectively demonstrate a forced landing, do it to a runway.
I’ve heard of way too many accidents resulting from a certified flight instructor taking a student too low on a forced landing demonstration. There’s just no downside to practicing to a runway and completing the landing. Use a grass strip if you want to really add some realism.
Consider the distractions facing the CFI as he demonstrates this maneuver. There is a lot going on during a forced landing, and maybe the CFI gave up a little bit of scanning outside in the interest of the lesson. Focus is very important, but never lose sight of the big picture. Where am I? And what outside the airplane just might hurt me?
Choosing your (practice) forced landing site wisely will help you to maximize the benefit derived, while minimizing unnecessary risks.”
How important is it that pilots practice power-off landings on a surface other than a paved runway?