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Learning from bad landings

Last Saturday I was shaken up by the worst landing I’ve had in twenty four years of flying.

While rushing to get my newest aircraft back from an inspection in a nearby town, I had to do one quick circuit (traffic pattern) to check the operations.

During the short flight I was blown around quite vigorously, proceeded to have a poor quality low approach, too high of a landing speed, and eventually a bouncing mess of a landing with limited control, at the brink of chaos… YIKES!

Fortunately, other than a badly bruised ego, no person or property was injured during this debacle. (I won’t mention the neck injury from hitting my head on my roof in wild turbulence later that day… separate incident.)

This event gave me a long pause to take stock of my choices.

I try to fly in smooth air, from my home airport, with frequent practice sessions.

This generally occurs in the morning when I am mentally sharp, and the air tends to be calm, smooth, and free of other air traffic (I’m quite risk averse).

As with most things in life it often takes a barrage of contributing factors to create a problem.

In this case it was:

  • rushing to bring my plane home from another airport, with other tasks on my mind

  • catering to other peoples’ schedules (flying out in the afternoon vs. morning)

  • flying with variable winds (changing direction and velocity… more challenging)

  • using new larger and ‘stickier’ tires for the first time (a change to the feel)

  • almost two months since flying this aircraft (out of my comfort zone)

Excuses, excuses, excuses.

The main take-aways from this incident can be easily applied to many areas of life.

Trust your instincts and adhere to your principles.

Live life on your own terms, schedule, and without compromising values or safety.

As Ray Dalio would say “Pain + Reflection = Progress”.

It is safe to say that this experience has made me grow.

  • Now that’s a peak ethos.

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