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Field Landings - Briefing

See and click on "briefing video" for a useful training aid.
1. By 2000 FT. If landing appears probable, fly to a suitable area, preferably flat and
unobstructed. Remember you will cover far more ground if you fly down wind.
2. By 1500 FT. Pick an area with 2 or 3 potentially suitable fields: consider the surrounding
a. Are there hills to create turbulence or surface wind problems?
b. Are there TV cables, TV masts or other large obstacles?
c. Does the ground slope visibly? If so is it to steep?
d. Stay orientated with wind direction experienced during the cross-country – relate to
sun position.
3. By 1000 FT. Select your field considering the following:
a. Surface Wind – assess the wind by means of your drift or by smoke. Always aim to
land in a direction, which will give you a substantial headwind component.
b. Field Length – remember the apparent size of any field is seen relative to the size of
those surrounding it. Know the topography of the country over which you are flying. A
good field for a modern glider would be 500 – 600 yards long with relatively
unobstructed boundaries.
c. Obstructions – obstructions reduce the useable field length by at least 10 times the
height at which you clear them. Trees and buildings will also create turbulence.
d. Slope – any visible down slope in the field is unacceptable. A similar upslope would be
acceptable (the wheel brake will be needed). Examine surrounding fields for slope
indications. Fields at the bottom of a valley often suffer from excessive slope.
e. Surface – look for fields in the following order of priority:
(1) Stubble
(2) Grass – but beware of strip grazing indicating electric fences – any shading in
the grass surface almost certainly indicates the presence of fencing.
(3) Short Crop – the surface should appear more brown than green.
(4) Other cropped fields may present a hazard on landing – remember half-ripe
crops may look like stubble – consider the season!
f. Stock – Sheep panic, run and sometimes jump up. Cows are curios, horses bolt. A
solitary cow is probably a bull! Try to avoid fields with stock in them.
4. By 800 ft AGL – Position the glider well upwind and well to one side of your field – visualise
the length of the downwind leg at your home airfield. Use pre-selected ground reference
points to maintain orientation and positioning. Be conscious of the tendency to cramp your
circuit and plan to avoid doing so.
5. Base Leg Position – Plan to be abeam your touchdown by 400 to 500 ft. resist the common
tendency to position the base leg to close – plan for a half airbrake approach. Select a safe
approach speed. Excessive speed will usually result in overshooting the field. Allow an
adequate margin of height over obstructions. Once you are certain you can safely clear them
use full airbrake to achieve an early touch down. Aim for minimum touch down speed on
rough surfaces. Ground looping is common when landing in crop. Concentrate on keeping
the wings level and retract flaps if necessary.
In addition to the mandatory Bronze badge field landing requirement, the BGA recommends periodic
field landing refresher training in an SLMG.
BGA June 2010

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