KNOW YOUR PLANE

NOT ALL PLANES CAN MAKE IT BACK

Not all planes can take off from a runway of a given length, lose power, turn back to the runway and return to the runway.  This is regardless of altitude or skill of the pilot.  The reason is that to get to a higher altitude, the plane must continue to fly away from the runway.  Depending on the climb angle compared to the glide angle (back) and the altitude lost in the turn, many planes will not return to the runway except under ideal conditions (e.g. very high headwinds).

CURRENT TRAINING MISLEADING

Many of us are taught to know the altitude lost when we perform a 270-degree turn.  We are told to add a safety factor to that number and assume that this is the altitude that we can safely turn back to the runway.  In fact, the exercise only addresses not hitting the ground on the turn.  It does not address the long glide back to the runway after the turn is made.  Many pilots may have a false sense of security thinking they can make it back to the runway at this altitude.

MANY FACTORS

Many factors go into where your plane will land if you attempt to turn back.  They include:

  • Altitude at which the power was lost, and the location in the pattern
  • Wind direction and speed
  • Density altitude
  • Runway length you are returning to
  • The plane's weight
  • Power of the engine
  • Climb and glide angles of the plane
  • Takeoff roll distance
  • The skill of the pilot in the turnback

TAKEOFF ADVISOR PUTS IT TOGETHER

With just a few flight measurements of your plane entered into Takeoff Advisor, you can "fly" your departure route and see where you can land in the event of a loss of power.  You can understand the best paths to a safe landing location and the critical decision points where the best paths change.