Most aircraft accidents occur during the takeoff or landing phase of the flight. Collisions with obstacles during climb out, runway overruns on landing do occur every now and then. In this section of the site we will take a look at the various factors contributing to the performance of the aircraft in this part of the flight.
A pilot uses best glide speed when he needs to fly the longest distance per unit of altitude lost. It is also used when the engine fails and a suitable landing place must be reached. Best glide speed is at that point where the lift/drag ratio is at its highest.
For most pilots forced landings are usually practiced only near a suitable runway as engine failures are a rare occurrence. But as practice tends to make perfect in the end, it is time to review the finer points of this important excercise.
This is a maneuver often practiced during training for the license and usually only when the pilot is up for the biannual flight review. We touch on this subject as it is intimately related to our best glide speed.
Basically it boils downs to this: always be aware of the wind direction and fly in such a way (with regard to altitude and ground track) that you are able to reach a suitable landing spot at anytime. And if the engine does fail then this is what you should do after converting excess speed to altitude and trimming for best glide speed.
You really need to know the best glide speed for your aircraft. Some manufacturers also specify a minimum sink rate, this is a speed which gives you the most time aloft before arriving at the surface. This is helpful when you already are high above an acceptable landing site but wish to troubleshoot the problem.
Practice this regularly, as one fine day (or maybe not) you might need these skills and its best to be proficient and mentally ready for the challenge at hand.
Being aware of the available emergency and search and rescue services for the pilot might be a lifesaver one day. Click the next link to continue reading in our article on Emergency Services.