Circuits – Out of Position, Change Landing Area

Here’s another way to be in the wrong place. Off to one side, and low again. Do you have any other options to land safely?

Landing in a different part of the airfield may be the best option

Learning Points

Small airfields may have a narrow runway or a small area in which you can land, in which case you need to stay within reach. Larger airfields give you more options. If you are low, consider landing somewhere ‘non standard’. You should first be aware of those areas which are landable, and those which are not. An early radio call will also help other airfield users to lookout for you.

As you approach the field, judge if you can safely reach the normal landing area. If not, look for an area that is closer to you. Check it is clear and will remain so, then set up a circuit to position your Final Turn at a safe height.

Scenario and Demonstration

In this demonstration the pilot was hoping for lift in the hills but didn’t make it. Turning back, she isn’t initially sure exactly where the airfield is, and turns a bit too far before recovering. She is way out to one side, and already well below High Key height. She aims straight for the field, towards the downwind end, but not downwind of it. Realising she shouldn’t waste any height flying across the field to land on the far side of the tarmac runway, she chooses to change the landing area to land on the nearest side of the tarmac. She approaches on a long diagonal (or is it a base leg?) and makes her Final Turn at a good speed and height, and has plenty of room ahead to land into wind.

Consider landing somewhere else on the airfield if it is safer to do so

The video is best viewed in YouTube in Full Screen mode, to easily see the on-screen messages during the demonstration. Use view, pause and rewind as needed to grasp the content and timing of the messages displayed, then focus on the action.

Performing the Exercise

The exercise leaves you in another awkward position, a long way from home. Decide what action needs to be taken, including configuring for landing (the undercarriage is down when the lever is forward). Fly your chosen route to reach the best position for the Approach, having completed the Final Turn.

Afterwards, ask yourself if your legs were as well positioned as you’d like. Were the heights and speeds acceptable? Did you have time to think and adjust all the way round, or were some parts a bit rushed? If you’d do it differently next time, have another go.

This exercise is part of a set placing you in a variety of ‘Out Of’ positions.

Further Reading and References

Gliding From Passenger to Pilot, 2nd Edition: Page 114-115

BGA Instructors’ Manual, 4th Edition: Section 3, Chapter 14 Pages 9-10

BGA Instructors’ Reference Cards: Ex 12b

BGA Gliding Basics – Circuit