Rust-Shaker: Short Field Landing

Every landing should be planned like a Short Field Landing. Though I certainly would not advocate maximum breaking once firmly on the ground, a well-planned Short Field Landing touches down at a predetermined point with a precisely planned speed and firms up the landing by unloading the wings onto the main landing gear.


The Short Field Landing is a great Rust-Shaker for two reasons:

  1. Per ACS standards, it requires calling your touch down point. One skill that gets rusty quickly when we don’t fly enough is our ability to estimate height, distance and speed. Forcing ourselves to call the touch down point allows us to evaluate how well we did, and what we should do next time if we didn’t like our performance. Warning: don’t ever force down the airplane to make your touch down point. The goal is to evaluate and improve, not to meet the target each time.
  2. Less important than item 1., but: there’s an important post touch-down procedure – retract the flaps and pull the yoke. Remembering to do this trains our mind that touch-down isn’t the end of the flight, and that we need to immediately be ready to do the next thing. Warning: don’t get distracted with flaps, yoke and breaking until you are stable on the ground with full directional control.


A Short Field Landing involves the following sections:

  • A stable approach with tight airspeed control towards a predetermined touchdown point. The approach may be steeper than standard to avoid an obstacle. The aiming point should be one center-line stripe before the target touchdown point.
  • Touch down at or closely after the predetermined touch-down point. The touch down is allowed to be slightly firm (not: hard), but should not bounce.
  • After touchdown and stable directional control, retract the landing gear, break without skidding and pull the yoke full back to maximize weight on the main landing gear.

Note: Spare your tires! You don’t have to do maximum breaking every time you do a Short Field Landing to get its value as a rust-shaker.


Here is a nice explanation of how to perform a short field landing, courtesy of Boldmethod.

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