"Straight for the numbers" with not much room for even a short final

Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by allPrimes, Apr 15, 2022.

  1. allPrimes

    allPrimes Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I'm a low-time pilot; I have all of 120hrs under my belt thus far. I was out for a flight a few weeks ago and on my way inbound to Bozeman (I had been told to expect a left-downwind for runway 30), there was a fire burning at a well-known local landmark (here circled in red) that tower asked me to go see if it was under control. I was at ~2,000agl, radioed back to tower that although the fire wasn't manned, it appeared to be a burn pile, and tower told me to make "best speed straight for the numbers for 30" to get down in front of an inbound Pilatus. I could see the runway, and if it hadn't been for the "best speed" part, I would have taken it, but I ended up asking for an extended left-down wind for 30, and that I was happy to come in behind the Pilatus. I did, and all was just hunky dory (I'm working on spot, short landings and this one was great, thankyouverymuch), but I'm still curious: best speed from 3 miles out nearly parallel to the end of the runway, how would you handle that? Fly perpendicular to the runway then make a very short final? But then that isn't "straight for the numbers," is it?

    [​IMG]


    On the other end of the runway there is another well-known landmark ("fly to and report over River Rock") that is often followed by "make a 1 mile right base for runway 12" from which I will sometimes get "make straight for numbers on [either 12 or 11, depending]" with which I have never had problems. At a minimum, it gives me the chance to (mostly) fly part of a pattern which for me is better than none. But for the call this day, I was stymied; if I had accepted "straight to numbers," I'm not sure how it should have been flown.

    I have always thought that "straight to numbers" means just that and in this case, I was unsure of what to do so I just said screw it and that I'd take the extra time in my log book.

    EDIT: I was in a local club C172/180.
     

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    Last edited: Apr 15, 2022
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  2. Salty

    Salty Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I learned this lesson at sun n fun last week. Everyone was flying fairly normal close pattern and the controller told me to aim for the green dot and land on the orange. I did, and, well, that required a fair amount of aerobatics to accomplish in a lance. In retrospect I should have “sort of aimed for the green dot” and not tried to follow the letter of the request - which is what everyone else was doing, except for the few idiots that were doing 747 patterns….
     
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  3. Andy Appeltans

    Andy Appeltans Filing Flight Plan

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    You made the best decision.
    If you are unsure, don't push yourself or the airplane. Yes it is an atc instruction but you are the one who's life is on the line if it goes haywire.

    If the next time you go there you can request to try it again to see how it would work out.
    And it the runway is longer then you need for the performance of your aircraft it doesn't matter much if don't land in the TDZ.
     
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  4. flyingron

    flyingron Administrator Management Council Member PoA Supporter

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    This wasn't uncommon at IAD. The runway was 11,000+ feet long, so even flying base leg right to the numbers, you could roll out over the runway, touch down 2000' down and still make the first high speed turnoff (4500).
     
  5. Daleandee

    Daleandee En-Route

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    I noticed the runway given was 1.7 miles long so landing on the far end would be an option for many but I have no idea what you were flying or what you're comfortable with.

    You did the right thing. If it don't work for you then the "unable" word will get you another option.
     
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  6. RingLaserGyroSandwich

    RingLaserGyroSandwich Pre-takeoff checklist PoA Supporter

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    They were trying to help get you in but honestly that clearance sounds unnecessarily dangerous unless you and the other plane each have one pound of fuel left. Good call by you in my opinion.
     
  7. fasteddie

    fasteddie Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Just curious, what is the landmark there? Doesn't look like anything remarkable in the red circle.

    Also, kinda seems a little extra for the tower to be asking you to be their fire spotter. Did you have to go out of your way? Or did you just happen to be overflying it?
     
  8. allPrimes

    allPrimes Pre-takeoff checklist

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    There's three tall, blue silos, very visible from the air, and well known to most local pilots.

    I didn't need to go out of my way. It was an easy thing to do for them.
     
  9. kgruber

    kgruber En-Route

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    At Boeing Field they land two airplanes at once on 14R.

    "Cleared to land 14R......First half."
    "Cleared to land 14R, midfield base, last half."
     
  10. Initial Fix

    Initial Fix Line Up and Wait

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    I had something like that as a low hour pilot. It threw me and I was fast and landed long. It’s still not to uncommon to get those types of clearances. Not many get to practice those high speed to the runway then slow down to land appt during flight training. Find a cfi or a local non towered field to practice. Don’t be worried about going around as you are getting comfortable slowing down on short final.
     
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  11. PaulS

    PaulS Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Not sure how to do it? Just say unable. Get back up with an instructor and practice short approaches.
     
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  12. EdFred

    EdFred Taxi to Parking

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    What aircraft were you flying?
     
  13. eman1200

    eman1200 Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Bro do you even lift
    sounds like you understood the scenario taking place.....tower was trying to help get you in before another plane......you also understood what a perfectly acceptable alternative to their instruction was (extending d/wind, which can happen quite often, as do 360's)...you also realized you could say 'unable' because you're making the decisions up there. I'd say the only thing you failed miserably at was passing up the opportunity to firewall it straight to the numbers then chopping and dropping 1500+fpm to a chirpy greasy landing on the spot of your choice, all while yelling "YIPPEEE KIYAYYYY, MOTHER FLUBBERS YEEEEHHHAAAWWW!!!!!!". I mean, which would be my approach of choice over extending downwind, but it's not for everyone.
     
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  14. Unit74

    Unit74 Final Approach

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    You are the pilot. Unable are magic words. Do NOT let a controller force you to do something you are not ready for or comfortable with. They are in a padded chair sipping coffee. You are one mistake from turning into a charcoal briquette because they were trying to manage airspace. I have more than once even said “student pilot, I’m not sure what you want me to do”. It’s like a magic key to unlock their brains that not every pilot is Iceman or Maverick.
     
  15. Albany Tom

    Albany Tom Pattern Altitude

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    As others have said, I bet they were trying to return the favor and help you out. And it's also possible that someone called them and asked if they could ask a pilot to look at the fire. So a series of friendly requests, all good. I would have asked to go second, too. Not so much for the short pattern, but also because of the Pilatus. I hate landing with a much faster plane close behind me. It's that "can't see the thing behind me" bit, even if they are a good crew.
     
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  16. TommyG

    TommyG Pattern Altitude

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    It will come with experience. I love when I get told direct the numbers at my airport. You will learn the books say one way to do something, but in reality you will be able to maneuver, change speeds, etc that aren’t taught in the books.
     
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  17. Shawn

    Shawn En-Route

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    "Straight for the number" just means get down as quick as possible with as short of an approach as you want without a full standard pattern legs or traffic pattern approach that would typically be expected by Tower. Some pilots can do a turning dive bomb of the threashold and still plunk her down safely and some need a nice stabilized standardized approach...as other mentioned he was doing you a favor and you were right to decline if not comfortable with short approaches.

    I often get roasted for saying this, but I enjoy occasionally doing laps in the pattern and flying all kinds of short and not standard approaches for scenarios just like that. I like to see how bad I can mess up an approach and still have a safe and controlled touchdown learning the nuances of the plane and energy management. If all you ever fly is perfect approaches all you will be able to land is that...and many time for a variety of reasons some by choice and some because of external circumstances that is not always the scenario you find yourself in. Now, not to confuse that with trying to touch down any cost or being unsafe on an approach...every approach is indeed a go around till proven otherwise...but life is not always a standard pattern.

    Now I love it when tower asks if I can accept a short approach...I am in chop and drop dive bomb mode before I can even key up with an "A-firm!" reply.
     
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2022
  18. donjohnston

    donjohnston Pattern Altitude

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    You done good. Exactly what you should have done given the circumstances.
     
  19. Sam Gordon

    Sam Gordon Pre-Flight

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    A week or so ago I was on my first solo mission (I had solo'd the week before, this was the first time I was by myself for the entire flight). I have ~45 hours in. Returning to my home, towered airport, I get into the downwind no problem, tower says he'll call my base. No problem. I get to abeam the touchdown, lower power, flaps, etc, and next thing I know, "821, turn base". I'm feeling pretty good, so I do, and after I make the turn I look to the runway and realize how close I am to the threshold and how high I still am in relation to it. Then I think about how long the runway is (7000 ft) and the turn off to parking is ~3/4 of the way down. I ended up landing, granted further down than normal, but with lots of runway still left.
     
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  20. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Not a big fan of that phraseology (straight to the numbers) usage. “Maintain maximum forward airspeed, enter left base runway 30, make short approach for traffic.”
     
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  21. allPrimes

    allPrimes Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Honestly, if tower had asked for that, I would have been more comfortable.

    I’ve made short approaches before but have always been further away from the threshold for at least some sort of base to (short) final.
     
  22. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Outside of a helicopter, you should have some sort of base. Meaning, “off the approach end.” If you were to have an accident, the NTSB would scrutinize the hell of of that phraseology. The controller won’t have anything to back it up either other than “everyone uses that phraseology.”

    Really no reason to push it anyway. Have you make left traffic to follow the Pilatus on X mile final.
     
  23. Ed Haywood

    Ed Haywood Pattern Altitude

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    Yup, I got the same instructions, and it did require some fairly aggressive low level maneuvering, though my Decathlon is a bit more suitable for that kind of thing. Seems like a situation ripe for an approach stall-spin accident with a sudden, tight turn from base to final at low altitude. Didn't help that they only provided that instruction about a mile out from the turn, not enough time to get a look at the situation and make a plan. I think the instructions would have been better expressed as "land after the orange dot". There was tons of runway beyond the dot, so no reason to rush the descent to try for a spot landing.
     
  24. nrpetersen

    nrpetersen Line Up and Wait

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    To the OP - Your only "problem" is that you probably sounded like a more experienced pilot on your radio transmissions.....:)
     
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  25. Ed Haywood

    Ed Haywood Pattern Altitude

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    I can't imagine why any real pilot would have an issue with that. I fly every approach as a practice emergency when the pattern is empty. Pattern altitude abeam the numbers, cut power to idle, tight 180 to touchdown close to the threshold with minimal rollout. My aircraft does not have flaps, so that requires a steep final approach with aggressive slipping all the way into ground effect. Pilot stuff.
     
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  26. Ed Haywood

    Ed Haywood Pattern Altitude

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    I'd have flown it as a long left base, like your green line but a few hundred yards to the right. Left turn at 500 AGL just off the numbers and full flaps puts you down right in the middle of the runway for quick turnoff at the next taxiway.

    The tower was trying to do you a favor. But nothing says you have to accept it, and their feelings won't get hurt. As others observed, "unable" always works, as does saying you prefer to wait.

    You are at a good point in your development to start getting more comfortable with maximum performance landings and takeoffs. 172 is a great plane for that. In addition to making you more comfortable with situations like this, you'll be much better prepared if you ever have to do an emergency off-airport landing.
     
  27. Ghery

    Ghery Touchdown! Greaser!

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    As others have said, you did fine. You weren't comfortable with a high speed approach direct to the runway, followed by a chop and drop, so you told the tower that you were fine extending your downwind and following the other airplane. Good on you. The tower was probably trying to do you a favor, but what you proposed and did were just fine.
     
  28. L J Donelson

    L J Donelson Pre-takeoff checklist

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    A week after getting my PPL I took my wife up... long story short we turned back and I call in returning to a full stop. ATC has several large commercial craft queuing up and come back to me with "put it on the numbers now and you're number one". I was east a few miles and would have to turn south to avoid "restricted airspace". Given it was a Sunday and the ranges were cold ATC cleared me to cross the restriction which then put me with nothing right base. 36R is 10,000' so I made the turn over the threshold no flaps at 100knots a bit high floating more than half the runway to touch down smooth as silk about 3000' from the north end and turned off to the taxiway to see my instructor standing at the hangar. He was grinning and gave me a high five. He'd been listening. I still grin thinking about that landing.
     
  29. allPrimes

    allPrimes Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I was able to redeem myself last night.

    I've been practicing some non-standard approaches at other fields recently and the last few times I've been flying back to my home airport, I've had more of "straight to the numbers." Last night I was three miles northwest-ish, 2K' above pattern altitude, and was cleared to land "1-2, straight for the numbers, best speed; you're landing in front of a Skylane on a five mile final that has 30 knots on you." I offered to wait and tower said "you should be fine. He's in a Cessna and can slow down."

    I slipped to pattern altitude, and judging from my track-log on FlightAware, was able to maintain about 100kts over the ground. Slowed down as easy as pie, thankyouverymuch, and greased it in on the second stripe. Although I did not yell "YEEHAWW!" to no one, it still felt good.
     
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  30. GaryM

    GaryM Pattern Altitude

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    Well said! Excellent way to get the point across. 'Unable' is indeed a word pilots should be ready to use whenever the situation or their comfort level dictates.
     
  31. chemgeek

    chemgeek En-Route

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    While well-intentioned to expedite arrival, the best response to this request is "unable." Safety first. Controllers are not necessarily pilots, and may not understand what is or isn't possible or safe for the operation of your aircraft. I think you wisely exercised your pilot's discretion. I, too, would have been happy to come in #2 on a normal, stabilized approach.
     
  32. Ed Haywood

    Ed Haywood Pattern Altitude

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    Pilot stuff!!
     
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  33. Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe

    Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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  34. Jackk

    Jackk Ejection Handle Pulled

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    the 172/52/82?
    I would go direct the front edge of the runway, when I roll into the turn throttle out, flaps and slip, touch down the 1000 markers easy.

    You are not me however, you did as you felt comfortable and safe, didn’t make a undue hazard to anyone, didn’t bend anything, anger anyone, and still make good time, I’d say that’s a win.
     
  35. Jeff Oslick

    Jeff Oslick En-Route PoA Supporter

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    Meh, landed on left side, wandered to the right. I'm not that impressed, and seemed like a good setup for a ground loop if the winds are anything but very friendly.
     
  36. coma24

    coma24 Line Up and Wait

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    If you point the plane at the numbers, then by the time you square up and land, you'll very likely land longer than usual.

    Keep in mind, it's a 9000ft long runway. The controller will be ECSTATIC to have you further down the runway as it will all but guarantee that he/she can use Same Runway Separation to avoid sending the Pilatus around. Not familiar with SRS? See this: https://www.boldmethod.com/learn-to...ion-requirements-tower-and-nontower-distance/

    The Pilatus is a Category 1 aircraft (single engine, less than 12.5k lbs (they clock in at around 10.5k lbs), so they only need 3000ft between you and the Pilatus.

    So, yes, point at the runway numbers, go fast, land long. All good.
     
  37. Jackk

    Jackk Ejection Handle Pulled

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    How do you normally land when you’re executing a turning landing?
     
  38. Jeff Oslick

    Jeff Oslick En-Route PoA Supporter

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    The risk/reward of executing a turning landing like this versus being in a turn all the way to the numbers then straightening out for 2 or 3 seconds to be more stable for touch down just isn't there. I'm curious how many circumstances would actually "require" this maneuver. I'm sure you'll try to find an example now.

    I'm not saying this particular pilot is unsafe doing it, but teaching it as anything but a "this is technically possible, in a real pinch" isn't a great idea.
     
  39. EdFred

    EdFred Taxi to Parking

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    They said this could be good for an engine out right at the beginning of the video. Probably not much else though.
     
  40. coma24

    coma24 Line Up and Wait

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    I think people are confusing 'straight to the numbers' (from a right angle) as 'straight to the numbers, cross the numbers at 30ft and land as soon as possible thereafter.' Again...it's a 9000ft runway. The controller only BENEFITS if you land long. I think people are turning this into an operation that it wasn't intended to be. Will you be at 500ft AGL over the numbers (typical base to final turn)? No, but it doesn't mean you're comin' in hot at 30ft either.

    I'm not seeing the risk.