Very First Back-to-Basics Safety Event was a Huge Success! 
By Dave Dunteman 

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On Saturday 11 January, a group of pilots and planes gathered at Pleasant Valley Airport (P48) for the inaugural Back to Basics in the Backcountry Education and Proficiency program. We started with a one-hour academic session discussing Aeronautical Decision Making and Risk Analysis tools for use in pre-flight preparation. Next we reviewed the section in Sparky Imeson’s Mountain Flying Bible that discussed landing considerations.

The first consideration discussed was the benefit of flying a stabilized approach. The importance of a stabilized approach is widely accepted as the best way to arrive at the airport incident free! Airlines use stabilized approach criteria and direct a go around as imperative if not meeting stabilized approach criteria at 1000 feet AGL!

The Mountain Flying Bible has a great section on the stabilized approach and recommends carrying power that results in a 400-600 fpm descent rate. The technique provides for exact airspeed control with precise glide path control.

Next we discussed the spot method landing technique that allows the aircraft to arrive at a predetermined ideal approach speed at an aim point on the runway with a 200-foot float to a touch down point. Sparky discusses the three points that every pilot should be aware of on every approach whether on or off airport—the aim point, the touchdown point, and the go around point. We set up colored tarps as panel markers for use as our aim point, a white lime line across the runway as the touchdown point, and a single marker as a go around point.

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Aim Point Markers and Desired Touchdown Spot

Spot Landing Technique

| Establish and Maintain Desired Approach Speed in Landing Configuration

{ Trim to Maintain AS (AOA/Pitch Controlled with Stick and Trim)

| Align the Nose with the Spot on the Runway

{ Use Grease Pencil or A Small Sticker for Mark

| Raise or Lower the Nose Position using Throttle to Maintain Alignment with Spot


Optimum Approach Speed

| According to the Airplane Flying Handbook

{ Optimum Approach Speed for a short-field Approach is 1.3 Vso

{ Adjust for gusts by adding ½ the gust factor

{ Practice may show that 1.3Vso is too fast

| Upon arrival at the SPOT commence the flare

| IF you float rather than touchdown within 200-300 feet of the spot—the speed is too fast



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Stabilized Approach

| The SPOT method uses a stabilized approach

| The Accuracy of the spot method lies in its ability—while maintaining an exact approach speed—to provide an exact glide slope without an electronic aid

| To fly a 3 degree GP multiply GS in knots by 5, the result is your rate of descent in fpm

| To fly a 4.5 degree GP multiply GS by 8, , the result is your rate of descent in fpm

| 4.5 makes it easier to make GP corrections on approach and it provides a better view of the runway


Stabilized Approach Rate of Descent



3 Degree Glide Slope

4.5 Degree Glide Slpoe


5x50=250 fpm



















Landing Requirements

| The following should be determined for each and every airport where you land


| Point on the runway where the aircraft would impact if you don’t flare


| With proper approach speed 200-300’ beyond Aim Point


| Predetermined point on runway that signals sufficient runway does not remain to land and Stop

| Fly to First Strip approximately 5 north of Mobile(Rainbow Valley SW Practice 128.925

{ Practice Spot Landing to simulated short field

{ Measure Landing Distance

{ Estimate Available Landing Distance

{ Practice Stabilized Approach from 3 degree and 4.5 degree Glide path

{ Verify Approach Speed

{ Watch and Critique Other Aircraft Landing

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Second Strip

| MoTown 5AZ6, RWY6/24, 2700’ x 65’

| 8 NM south of Mobile

| Practice Arrival at Unknown/New Location

| Observe Condition of Strip

| Estimate Size, Wind Direction, Slope, Obstructions and Determine Most Suitable Landing

| Practice Spot Landing Technique



In the end, we all learned quite a bit about our aircraft and the best results came from those who stayed all day and practiced 20-25 approaches.  Most pilots had difficulty stopping their aircraft in fewer than 500 feet unless they practiced more than five approaches.  Obviously when we are flying our approach in to a back country strip we are hoping to minimize impact on the environment and many strips don’t have great go around options, so it was very helpful to have a day like Saturday to hone our technique!  


Thanks to all who participated and I look forward to many more events!


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Time Lapse Shot of Short Field Takeoff in Carbon Cub at First Strip


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