Touch And Go Program Helps Alaskan Aviators

Practice Runways Improve Short Landing Skills


by Mike Ford

This project involved a number of participants including the FAA, The 99's, Alaska Airmen's Association, Alaska Airports Association, Alaskan Aviation Safety Foundation, A.O.P.A. and the individual airports.

Pilots practiced on  a conventional runway before taking on all the challenges of off-field conditions. The FAA  partnership with airport owners and aviation user groups allowed pilots to practice on marked  "bush" runways. The goal improving aviation safety and reducing off field landing accidents

The "practice" runways were created by painting a series of two by four foot rectangles to mark a "bush" airstrip that is 25 feet wide and either 600 or 800 feet long. According to longtime Alaskan pilot and AOPA member Terry Cartee "It gives you a chance to measure your takeoff and landing to see if you can hit the spot and see how much it changes with the weight of the plane"

Marks are spray-painted on the gravel surface at 100 foot intervals  providing an easy reference to judge your landing, or take-off distance.  Volunteer groups at six alaskan airports stepping up to the plate over the  Summer and creating these training aides.

Cartee says regular usage of the sites are beneficial given the changes aviators encounter on any given day in Alaska ""The conditions always change. The temperatures the wind and how much you have in your airplane. It all makes a difference on your take off distance and landing distance"
While not simulating all the conditions of a true off field situation, developing the skills to get down and stopped on a short narrow surface is certainly something to be mastered before taking on the other variables involved in off-field operations. "And when get off airport ,one of the criteria really is if you can land in about ah ten feet of where you are supposed to, because all the runway behind you doesn't do you any good"

If you were a pilot that has been using these runways please take a short survey from A.O.P.A. by connecting with us.


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