Short field takeoff & landing


Develop a pilot’s ability to execute maximum-performance, short-field takeoffs and landings, safely clearing any obstacles.


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


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

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.

Student actions

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

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
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