Pilot's Tip of the Week
Emergency Off-field Landing Pattern
Featuring Bob Nardiello
"Assume I lost my engine and want to land on a field 3,000 feet directly below me. How should I approach this landing?" - Roy P.
"First, slow to best glide speed to minimize loss of altitude.
Next, assuming you're flying from the left seat, position the aircraft to circle the site to the left. Always stay close to the field, not more than ½ mile away. Consider the wind direction while descending, and make necessary adjustments to keep yourself over your intended landing area. Don't let the wind push you outside of a safe gliding distance from your landing spot.
If you can land in multiple directions on the field, pick the direction most aligned into the wind, as long as there are no obstacles on your approach such as hills, trees or power lines; obstacles in the landing area such as large rocks, etc.
With a grass field, land in a plowed or mowed area if available. Stay close to the touchdown point throughout your descent and also keep your eyes open for a secondary field if you discover that your selected site turns out to be unsuitable – for example, you spot wires crossing the field which weren't visible from 3,000'.
Plan to arrive on the downwind leg abeam your touchdown spot at least 800 feet AGL and be prepared to adjust your pattern as needed to ensure you make the field."
Next week's tip: How much fuel is enough?