AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2021 - 82

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P&E 

TECHNIQUE

trees, water, smoke, crop fields, or anything
else you can find to make the evaluation.
O: Obstacles or obstructions. The
high recon pass is a big-picture view.
Look at the approach and departure paths
for any sort of obstruction, be it a mountain, a house, trees, a road, or any number
of hazards. This is also a time to look for
power lines, which can be virtually invisible unless you know what to look for. Don't
expect to find orange balls. Instead, look
for utility poles near the landing site, or
strips of trees that have been cut down to
clear an area for the lines.
F: Forced landing. If things go bad on
the approach or departure, what will you
do? At your home airport you likely have
this mapped out in your mind, but while
you're still at a comfortable altitude and
with time to slow down and think about
your options, make a mental map of where
you would go if things got bad in a hurry.
E: Entry. Picture the approach path
and look for obstructions, signs of turbulent wind, and an area that allows for a
stable approach.
E: Exit. We tend to focus on the
approach when planning, but especially if
it's a short strip, take the time to consider
the departure path as well. Is it clear of
obstructions and does your airplane have
the performance to take off? Look for areas
that give off turbulent winds. This also gives
another chance to examine areas for any
potential forced landing, or a path to follow
if the performance isn't what you expect.
L: Landing site. Helicopter pilots check
for the slope, surface type, and nearby
obstructions, but airplane pilots can spend
time considering the length and width of
the runway, any overrun areas, and the surface type and condition. Excess water will
reflect back at you, tall grass will make the
strip look like a wheat field, and a combination of green and brown might indicate ruts
or a rough surface. This is the time to do a
last gut check and make sure what you are
seeing also corresponds with what you calculated in the performance charts.
Although helicopter pilots perform the
high recon only a few hundred feet above
82 | AOPA PILOT April 2021

Instead of assuming
that everything is the
same, seaplane and
helicopter pilots must
assume that every
landing site is unique.

the surface, it probably makes sense to do it
in an airplane at around 1,000 feet. If you're
on a backcountry strip, or an airport with
minimal traffic, you can make the pass
however you like. But at an airport with
more traffic, follow a normal traffic pattern and then overfly the runway instead
of descending for landing to stay out of
everyone's way.
After the high recon helicopter pilots
often descend in one continuous maneuver for the approach and a low recon. This is
where you verify what you have already seen,
and most important, take a look for obstacles
that may not have been visible higher up. It's
also a time that you may be able to initiate a
go-around from a strip where it's otherwise
not possible on short final.
Ultimately, it's a different mindset.
Instead of assuming that everything is
the same, seaplane and helicopter pilots
must assume that every landing site is
unique. Whereas a land-based airplane
pilot typically only considers wind, that
one constantly changing ingredient,
helicopter and seaplane pilots must consider everything anew. Even landing sites
they've visited before change. Logs float
in, water levels change, power lines are
constructed, surfaces change, and each
day the environment is new.
When you approach an area with that
mindset, things such as forced landing
options and obstructions magically begin
to appear. 
AOPA
EMAIL ian.twombly@aopa.org


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AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2021

Contents
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2021 - Intro
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2021 - Cover1
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2021 - Cover2
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2021 - Contents
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2021 - 2
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2021 - 3
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2021 - 4
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2021 - 5
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2021 - 6
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2021 - 7
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2021 - 8
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2021 - 9
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AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2021 - 16
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AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2021 - Cover3
AOPA Pilot Magazine - April 2021 - Cover4
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