A couple months ago, in Short Field Landings and Learning Plateaus, I wrote about the frustrating experience of not being able to get my short field landing technique down.

If this video is any proof, I'm not the only one. The description says:

A wild ride in a Mooney as it does an approach into Whidbey Island in moderate to severe turbulence, landing high and fast on a short strip, and almost crashing.

But you probably just ought to watch for yourself...

I'll refrain from saying what I'd have done differently, since (a) it's always different when you're analyzing someone else's mistakes and (b) I don't have my license yet[*]. But I suspect that the pilots among you can guess what I might have written.

[*] if all goes well, that'll be false in less than a week.

Posted by jzawodn at January 21, 2007 08:53 PM

Reader Comments
# Ovidiu said:

he he he, I am not a pilot, but I think he should have landed at the beggining of the field, not at the middle :).

on January 21, 2007 09:04 PM
# said:

two words from this fair weather pilot "go around"

on January 21, 2007 09:11 PM
# Eric said:

There's a really nice big runway at Paine Field in Everett, just across the water. I'd consider that one.

on January 21, 2007 09:27 PM
# said:

At least the gear was down.

By the way, I'm a huge fan because, like you, I'm a student pilot and a Perl programmer. I've been considering buying a plane. I'd love to see an entry describing the decision making process you went through that led to you purchasing the Citabria over other types of planes.

on January 21, 2007 10:43 PM
# Nick Arnett said:

I have a fair number of hours in a Mooney 231... it is a hard airplane to slow down. Not that I'm excusing this guy. "Go around" was indeed the right advice.

On the other hand, it *was* a good landing -- in the sense that any landing you walk away from is a good landing.

on January 22, 2007 07:03 AM
# Billy D. Williams said:

Dude, I landed that course on Microsoft Flight Simulator 2006 and it's not that hard. I don't know what "cable" he was talking about, I didn't have to power-down. I just landed and had a beer...

on January 22, 2007 11:14 AM
# Charles said:

heh.. I remember someone at the NTSB said that he did a survey of black box voice recordings and the final words of the pilot in over 80% of all airplane crashes were "oh shit!"
This was almost another one.

on January 22, 2007 03:59 PM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:


Some things are just universal, aren't they? :-)

The only "oh shit" landing I've had was last spring in a gusting crosswind. I almost took out a runway sign. That would have been bad.

on January 22, 2007 04:13 PM
# Phil Windey said:

Clearly go around territory. The problem is that's easy to say, but when you're in a scary situation, you really want to get down bad. I've been in those situations and it takes some real discipline to go around when you just want to be on the ground.

Scary stuff.

on January 22, 2007 04:19 PM
# Afraid to Fly said:

This is just what I need to hear about (and see) .. I'm planning on starting my training this summer .. nice to know what to watch out for .. (and glad you're still with us Jeremy)

on January 24, 2007 07:10 AM
# Jason Fesler said:

Given fuel and conditions, I'd have gone around and tried once more - and diverted to somewhere with better runway conditions and more comfortable wind conditions. After all, nothing says you HAVE to come down, until the fuel's dry and the engine decides to tell you.

Good luck with the DPE, Jeremy!

on January 24, 2007 09:14 PM
# Dan G said:

Even just watching that various parts of my body "tightened".

on January 25, 2007 05:36 AM
# John Scott said:

I'm pretty sure I heard the stall horn there and that's usually a good sign when landing, no? And they did survive. :)

But yeah, it looks like they overshot it.

on January 25, 2007 05:49 AM
# Greg in Sydney said:

There is a heck of a difference in visual perception for a short strip where you virtually sink into the landscape vs landing on the same lenght strip which has no trees or ridges around it. Takes some guts! I have a Maule and a very short (400m)one way grass strip on my property in NWestern Sydney...if I don't fly over/into it regularly I swear it's been shrunk by someone and I lose my nerve!

It's then a matter of doing a heap of short field landings on a regular strip where the plane is normally hangared in order to confirm what is emminently possible and to "get in the groove".

on January 25, 2007 03:30 PM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:

At least the Maule is a fairly capable short field plane. ;-)

on January 25, 2007 03:34 PM
# tom said:

Watching that video made me think of that old saying:

Two of the most useless things to a pilot are the altitude above you and the runway behind you.

on January 26, 2007 12:00 PM
# theaviator said:

Ok so you landed behond your touch down point.....
the whole goal of a short field is to land at the lowest possible manoeuvering speed of the plane at which ur flare and ground effect should sit you comfortably on the small runway. The trick man for these small runways, aim before your touch down point, trim your aircraft to 5kts before your normal landing speed and use power to keep you overr your tree line obstacles at which you should cut your throttle right over your obstacle and nose down to hold your slow speed......should put you right uptop the threshold.......but was pretty nice landing alittle to far down the runways but when u can put the aircraft to a halt, its a good landing cheers :)

on April 24, 2007 07:52 AM
# said:

Im also close to my checkride and thats one maneuver I cant seem to feel completely comfortable doing, much less in those turbulent conditions. Good thing you walked out of that one and like you said its one of those things that will eventually ĘclickĘ in each person. Good luck

on January 14, 2008 11:33 AM
# said:

I know the guy who made that landing. That was his home field so he knew it well. A Mooney is a tough plane to land in gusty conditions because touch down speed is so critical, too fast and it will bounce and a prop strike is a real possibilty! I always considered this guy an excellent pilot yet he flew that same airplane into the trees at the end of that very runway during a night takeoff in low IMC.

on January 24, 2008 08:23 PM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:

Sounds right to me...

on January 25, 2008 06:56 AM
# ragg said:

you can hear he pulled the power back close to idle quite early which suggests he was way too fast and you can see he was way too high. he should have gone around and set himself up on a long final to sort out his speed and profile. a good landing results from a good approach!and a good pilot will know when to go around!!! a couple of nice flat spots on the tyres and a soiled underpants by the look of it here!!

on June 6, 2008 04:41 AM
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