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Old 08-13-2018, 05:08 PM
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Broomstick Broomstick is offline
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Location: NW Indiana
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Originally Posted by Robot Arm View Post
When I was taking lessons, every once-in-a-while my instructor would reduce the engine speed to idle and say "You've just lost the engine. What do you do?" If I remember correctly, the procedure was to establish the plane at its best glide speed, look for the safest place to land (airport, road, field, golf course, that sort of thing) and head toward it, call ATC on the radio, try to fix the problem, and prepare the plane for landing before you touch down. We'd glide for a while and see if I could have made it to the landing area I'd picked, then the instructor would push the the throttle back in and we'd climb away.

So you train for it up to a point, but I don't think any instructor would take it all the way to the ground.
Yes, some would.

But probably not with a new pilot.

After I got my PPL I would, periodically, go for either refresher training or to further my skills. A couple of my instructors would have me practice emergency landings all the way to the ground (engine at idle). I will note, however, they were particular about conditions. Also, by that time I had had a genuine forced landing in a field under my belt so a simulated emergency that ended on a paved or grass runway was pretty tame by comparison.

In my day, I also learned how to take off and land on short runways or soft runways like grass or gravel. (I've been out of general aviation for quite a while; don't know if soft-field techniques are still taught.) Those would also be good lessons to know if I ever had to set down in a real emergency.
The techniques for short/soft landings are still taught, but I have met many pilots who have never landed on anything but pavement, much less a grass strip, much less a rough field. There is some gap between theory and reality. Particularly between any actual airstrip and a genuine rough field.

Originally Posted by Banksiaman View Post
Out of interest, Pilot People, if you were flying at say 15,000 feet what sort of gliding distances would you expect a single engine aircraft to offer you?
Well... in theory you could get a 7:1 glide ratio out of a single engine Cessna, which in theory would give you a potential 19.5 miles and some change... but I don't know any pilots who would bet their life on that number. Including me, with most of my hours in that sort of Cessna. In reality, you're not going to get perfect performance at 15,000 feet in a single-engine Cessna, and there will probably be at least a minute or two when your engine first quits when you're moving from cruise configuration to best-glide, looking for a field, etc. I'd prefer to keep my target landing area within 10 miles or less because why cut your margin for error/problems any tighter than necessary? Probably I could squeeze 12-15 out of it, but that would be stretching things.

The Diamond Katana I flew, on the other hand, had something like an 11:1 glide ratio, which in theory gives you a potential glide distance of 31.25 miles... but, again, I wouldn't stake my life on it. You seldom get perfect performance and since I had less time in the Katana my skills in it would not be perfect - I'd be looking for a landing spot within 20 miles, preferably closer.

That sort of illustrates why it's very important to know the characteristics and performance traits of the airplane you are flying.

Are suitable paddocks marked on maps or is it a case of remembering that one summer you drove past a nice big wide field just to the left of the sheer moutain range ...?
As perhaps the above example illustrates, there is no one "correct" answer. Different airplanes are different, so there's no point to a map-maker even trying to guess what would make a suitable landing for anything. Yes, some of it is remembering suitable landing spots, or working them out prior to launching.

Then we get into other picky details - because a Cessna wing is on top of the airplane the wings have more ground clearance, which can be important during ground travel. Low wing airplanes are more likely to be damaged landing in a rough field because the wings are more likely to impact obstacles. A Stearman has a steel frame and is built much sturdier than a lot of newer airplanes - it's the only sort of airplane I've ever known to have impacted a tree during landing and won (it knocked off the top third of a pine and kept on going), usually airplane vs. tree turns the airplane into confetti. There's a lot more structure between me and the site of impact in a Cessna than in, say, a Max-Air Drifter where you sit waaaaay out front and arguably the pilot arrives at the point of impact before the airplane does.

All of the above can affect how you choose a landing field. In a high-wing I might be more inclined to pick a two lane rural road lined with mailboxes that is closer, rather than a field of tall grass, because the Cessna wing will clear the mailboxes. In a Piper Cherokee, though - a low wing - the wings will almost certainly hit those mailboxes and all sorts of chaos could ensue so I might opt for a slightly further field of hay, because tall hay, although not fun, will probably do less damage, is less likely to break open a wing/fuel tank, and so on, although there's always a risk when landing off-field. But... if I had to, if there was no alternative, road-lined-with-mailboxes is probably survivable in either.

Originally Posted by watchwolf49 View Post
Correct me if I'm wrong, but landing on a freeway because of a genuine emergency probably won't get you any grief from the local police ... but the FAA is going to be up your ass ...
They will ask you to explain/justify yourself the next day.

Based on my experience with a forced landing in, essentially, someone's backyard in Illinois back about 20 years now.

They weren't "up my ass" but let's just say I felt thoroughly examined afterwards.

After it was over the FAA guy complimented me on my landing skills and thanked me for not making him fill out the paperwork on a dead pilot.

Originally Posted by swampspruce View Post
1) Green wheat fields are crappy landing spots
Corn fields are worse. Hold an ear of corn in your hands. Imagine it hitting you in the face at 50-80 miles per hour. Now imagine a LOT of ears of corn hitting you in the face at that speed. Corn is evil.