March 2010 Safety Article by Darrel Sauder


Please allow me to beat a dead horse (better than beating a dead pilot). For those of you that per chance read last month’s Safety Note, you may recall that it talked about engine failure after takeoff and how to figure out if you had enough altitude for return to the field or should select a landing spot somewhere else.


Let’s take a look at engine failure on landing. What? This actually equates to an engine failure anywhere at any time, as you will surmise.


These scenarios will have to be practiced in warmer weather as your engine may get cold soaked and literally freeze up if you go at it in cold weather. At the rate are we going here in South Dakota we may have a whole two or three months to practice this year. I am addressing dead stick landings so carb heat (if appropriate) and throttle at idle is the rule of the day.


Start out with pulling the throttle to idle on short final. When you feel comfortable with your short final scenario gradually move on out to mid final, long final, beginning final, half way through base turn, and beginning base turn. Windy days, calm days, crosswind days; they all count into building your confidence and experience.  Keep close watch on your touchdown point and practice adjusting it via flaps, “S” turns, etc, so if the need arises it will come naturally. Don’t cheat…keep that throttle at idle. Next, try midfield downwind. This may rattle your cage as you will have to make an immediate base turn if you are going to make the runway.


Once you become proficient at these maneuvers start trying them at different altitudes in the traffic pattern and then at varying altitudes at varying distances from the field. Kind of neat when you are ten miles from the field and make the runway without ever touching the power. Who says that you have to land off field. Test it out.


There is not room here, nor is my intent to go into detail about  the  many practice scenarios we could dream up. However, practiced in earnest, these maneuvers will serve three noble purposes: (1) they are fun (2) they will increase your proficiency and confidence and (3) they will make you a safer pilot. 


I am not advocating  any daredevil maneuvers, but wanted to leave you with a question. How does your airplane act with a stopped prop? Fly safe.  


Darrel W Sauder

EAA Chapter 39

Rapid City, SD


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