Short field takeoff & landing

Develop a pilot’s ability to execute maximum-performance, short-field takeoffs and landings, safely clearing any obstacles. <header class=”lessonIntro”> <section class=”module”>


  • provide context - use a chart to show examples of short fields
  • differences from normal operations
  • short field takeoff
  • short field landing

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  • model aircraft
  • standardization manual and operating handbook
  • Airplane Flying Handbook

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Instructor actions

In a guided discussion, explain the aerodynamics, procedures, and execution for short-field takeoffs and landings, using whiteboard illustrations and a model aircraft.

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Student actions

Read appropriate chapter and complete homework assignment prior to the briefing. Participate in the guided discussion.

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Completion Standards

The student should be able to explain the aerodynamics, procedures, and execution for short-field takeoffs and landings.

Teaching outline

  • where would you need to use short field operations?
    • steeper climb and approach gradients required
      • use of flaps for additional lift and/or drag
      • lower airspeeds provide slower groundspeeds and greater angles of climb or descent
  • maximum runway use for takeoff
  • maximum effective braking for landing

Numbers used are from the Piper PA-28-161 Warrior. Adapt as required.

Short-field takeoff

  • performance calculations
    • obstacles
  • configuration
    • flaps as required (25°), wind correction
  • position for maximum usable runway
  • full brakes, smoothly to full throttle
    • check instruments, release brakes
    • more torque, track centerline with rudder
  • lift-off considerations
    • precise rotation, avoiding over-rotation
    • crosswind correction
    • additional backpressure required to maintain Vx or calculated airspeed
  • climb to 50’ at calculated speed, (+10/-5 p, +5/-0 c)
    • avoid over-pitching for too slow an airspeed
    • high AoA, powerful turning tendencies
    • transition to Vy (78), (+10/-5 p, ±5 c)
    • retract gear when positive rate is reached, no usable runway remains, and the climb is clear of obstacles
    • flaps out gradually with safe altitude
  • climb power at 500 ft, pitching for cruise climb (104)
  • climb checklist

Short-field landing

  • performance calculations
    • wind conditions, obstacles
  • configuration - trim for final approach
    • full flaps
  • touchdown point 200 ft from threshold and within first third
  • aim point considerations with steeper approach
  • stabilized approach to touchdown at 1.3 Vso (+10/-5 p, ±5 c)
    • coordination
    • precise ground track
    • final checklist
  • calculated airspeed over the numbers
  • minimum controllable airspeed in the flare to avoid floating
    • at or within 200 ft from touchdown point
    • touchdown aligned with runway centerline
  • directional control
  • wheel brakes, then aerodynamic
    • maximum braking