Sunday, April 05, 2009

So called "approach"

I made one of my worst approaches today as an instructor. The last part of our flight lesson I had my student do some "hood" work (he/she wears a hood where he/she can only see the instruments, i.e. simulating flight in instrument conditions, i.e. flying in the clouds.) Current winds as per the ATIS (automated terminal information service)=weather, were 210@18 knots. We have a main runway (29) and a smaller runway (25) at the airport. I enjoy using 25 because it's rarely used, and since the winds were mostly favoring this runway, I requested it from the tower. However, the tower instructed if I wanted to use that runway, that I would need to maintain 3,000 feet above the airport and enter left base for runway 25. He would instruct when to descend.

This seemed a bit odd for me since being that high above the airport would be difficult to enter a left base for runway 25 and land. I complied, and when we were about above the left downwind for runway 29, a Skywest Brasilia was departing the airport left downwind. Tower gave no indication the aircraft was there, so I took over the plane and descended a bit to be sure the Brasilia wouldn't be a factor. That scared my student a bit since he didn't realize I had taken the controls (my fault).

We were then above the airport at about 3,000 feet without indication from the tower when would descend. Finally, the tower instructed that we could descend at our discretion and make left base to runway 25, cleared to land. OK, we have to get down fast.

My student was still under the hood at this point, so I told him he could take it off and I took the controls and began a descending a left turn to land. When we made our 180-degree turn, I realized we were far too high to make the runway. At that point, tower had advised if we thought we could make the runway. I told him we probably could and I began a forward slip. When we got closer, I realized we probably wouldn't be able to make it and at that point an aircraft entering the right downwind for the main runway hadn't called in and became close to our position. Tower advised them of our position and afterwards I advised tower that we wouldn't be able to make the runway, some close calls.

At that point, tower made us to maintain runway heading and enter left downwind for the main runway (29), after a couple of aircraft passed by us. After we were in the left downwind, the tower then advised us to make a right 360-degree turn. "When were we going to land," I thought. Finally, we were cleared to land and we landed with a bit of a crosswind landing correction.

What an approach. I suppose it was both the mine and controller's fault that we made such an abnormal approach; it wasn't pretty however.