Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Before You Go-Know Where To Stop To Abort

Reading about some recent mishaps involving inadvertant collisions between airplanes and trees, reminds me of a flight to Hendersonville, NC (OA7) in our Be-36, several years ago. Landing at this particular strip was ok, but taking off another matter. Although the runway is 3075 ft long by 40 wide and aligned 15/33 there turned out to be worrysome factors for this pilot. There was a considerable slope downhill towards the southeast terminating in a line of tall trees. It was warm and the wind although light was out of the NW. The slope meant landing uphill and taking off downhill unless one had JATO tanks aboard, with a slight tailwind.

Well, it got to be departure time and as we taxied to the departure end I noticed lots of small stones on and around the runway. That meant better be slow in advancing the throttle or risk flying stones in the prop and denting the skin. So we got rolling slowly and as I approached my half way visual check point (decision point for go no go) we had barely 60 knots, the trees looking menacing ahead. So I aborted the take-off with the usual discomfort, especially for my wife, the sole passenger. At this point my wife wanted nothing further to do with the plane, I could't blame her. She got out and I decided to do a practice short field take-off following usual procedures. I taxied back to the end of 15 and set 10 degrees flaps. Gunned the engine as soon as I was clear of the stones and was airborne and climbing by midfield. I landed and after promising my wife the moon and a four star meal she climbed back in the plane and we headed back to CLT.

So the message is always have a visual check point picked out to decide if you can safely make your take-off.

If you haven't reached your target speed by this point abort and try something else as I had to do i.e. short field technique. Trees or other obstacles surrounding the runway/airport must be avoided by using proper landing and departure techniques. When landing over an obstacle it is important to fly at your minimum safe approach speed or you will risk overshooting the runway.

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