Slow Approaches

Glider Pilots- I found the attached article in the latest Soaring Magazine, and wanted to make sure you had all caught it. You do read your Soaring Magazine don’t you? You are a member of the Soaring Society of America aren’t you? If not, you should be. Yes, I know, it’s not the best magazine in the world, but it is a lot better than it use to be, and some of the articles are right on the mark. Please read the article. It explains the difference between a low energy touch down, and a slow speed approach. The numbers are for an ASW-21, not one of our gliders, so don’t dwell on them, but you’ll get the idea. There is something very rewarding about touching down on runway 26, and coming to a stop before the box. I love to do it, but I do it the right way. I never fly a slow pattern. I never fly a flat no-spoiler pattern. Either of those would put me at the edge of the flight envelope and limit my options. When I want to simulate a short, off field landing over the trees, I do it right. I fly a normal pattern at 51 knots plus the maximum wind gusts. I plan for a long straight stable final approach with about ½ spoilers on final. If I’m a little high or low, that leaves me with plenty of margin to adjust my glide path with the spoilers. I plan to cross over the trees with a nice comfortable margin- not 100 feet above them, but there is no reason to scrape the leaves either. Everything about the pattern is normal until I’m past the trees. Then I can get aggressive. I pull out full spoilers, and if the conditions are right, I throw in a slip. That takes me down to about 10 feet above the runway at a very steep rate. At that point I come out of the slip, reduce the spoilers to about half travel, and start my flair. The goal is to use up the energy in the air, so I hold the glider off the runway as long as possible, bleeding off the speed. A fully loaded Grob 103 will float in ground effect at less than 40 knots. When the glider touches down at a slow speed, full brakes will bring it to a stop very quickly. I wouldn’t do this if there was someone else in the pattern behind me, and I wouldn’t be that aggressive if I wasn’t very current. If you want to practice short field landings, grab an instructor. We work cheap. Please read the article, and promise me that you will never fly a flat, slow pattern. By the way, please save the dates: Our winter ground school is scheduled for three full Saturdays this winter: January 24th, February 28th, and March 14th Our Flight Instructor Revalidation Clinic is scheduled for February 21st ad 22nd. Everyone is welcome. See you at the field for clean up day tomorrow. Phil Klauder No Slow Approach