1800 foot strip


I land at my home field (3500’ x 45’ paved, elevation 643’) and have done it for 5 years. It takes me just over half that length to land and take off. Sometimes if it is hot and no wind, I will use up the whole runway on landing.

With dirt, braking will not work as well, if at all. Using the brakes will cause a ground loop (accident). Your elevation is probably the biggest issue as you need to fly faster and will use even more runway.

I would give you a 95% chance of having an over run accident. It’s not easy to consistently land and only use 1800’ of runway and I’ve practiced for years.

Have you tried to land at a larger airport within 1500’ with out any headwind at 6000’? Maybe check the POH and see what test pilots could do.

Maybe on a very cold winter day with a good headwind. I wouldn’t strap this on in a Cirrus, and I used to do this stuff for a living.

If you decide to go ahead, be spring loaded to go around. Be light and not over (or under) 65 Kts IAS. Very little margin for error with an 1800 foot strip at 5,000 feet.

Listen to PJ; he’s giving you good advice.

Get a Maule, Super Cub or Husky…


As I read Blu’s post, the go around is not a possibility. See the following:

As I read this there is terrain of some sort that prohibits a go around. There are various examples similar to this. One that comes to mind is UT25, Monument Valley, Utah.

As to Bob’s further advise:

I would add: “Join COPA”! Blu raises serious issues. The knowledge/advise per dollar spent ($65) on COPA means that that $65 is probably (no, certainly!) the best aviation dollars spent. Or, put otherwise, it is less than 2/3 AMU!

Hey Blu, I thought you were a member. You must have let it lapse. If you recall, we were partners during a CDM a couple of years ago. C’mon, join up again and participate in the forums. Your mountain flying experience will be helpful to many.


I routinely fly into an airport on a ridge at sea level with 2100’ for landing and 2500’ for departure. It has a 20’ rise midfield. My SR22 routinely can make the midfield turn off at about 1000’ – if I am really careful about touchdown speed at the displaced threshold. I go around perhaps once every ten landings due to wind shear, botched energy management or plain-old screw ups!

Now, pushing your elevation to 5000’ and I’d feel a whole lot of squeamish! Departing from Rifle reminded me how long it took to get the SR22 into the air. Don’t know if it is doable but definitely worth hiring a Cirrus-knowledgeable instructor who knows the edges of its performance. Two things seem important: 1) having an out to go around when things don’t work out, 2) having talent to consistently manage the landing energy during final approach.


p.s. And if you are flying a Cirrus, join COPA! Over on the member side, there are much more interesting discussions.

Some good points, just a little more info its only a oneway strip because of the slope of the runway. ie you have to land going south and take off heading north. A go around is possible if started before touchdown. I have made about ten approached to within 20’ agl and then gone around to get a reading on ground speed and a feel for the approach. For landing only 1800’ is usable because of a fairly sharp dip but for take off i can go through it so i will have 2100’. I can routenly stop in 1200’ feet at the airport where i am currently base.

On my practice approaches i have been watching the gps ground speed and feel i can touch down consitantly at 70 mph or less. With that in mind i drove my truck down the strip at 65 mph fast as i could get it up to in the distance i had. At approximatly 700’ past where i expect to touch down I put it in nutural and let it roll to a stop with no braking. This left me with about 300’ to spare. i should mention that most of the 45-55’ rise is in the last 500 feet and i was suprised at how fast the truck lost speed with out brakes once i hit the steeper part of the strip. This has convinced me that the landing has enough margin for error to be done safely.

On the take off I am a little up in the air, i have the proverbial 50’ tree 1000’ off the departure end, except instead if a tree its a hill and its about 75’ high with a fairly constant slope from the end of the run way to the hill crest. I can’t decide between staying in ground effect untill i have 87 ias and then climbing out with the slope or if i should just pitch for best angle as soon as i have the speed for it even if this lessens my forward visability to keep the hill in sight. The other option is to make a 40 degree turn to the east as soon as i’m airborn this will allow me to avoid the highest part of the hill and lower the climb needed by 25-30 feet but will require a turn at fairly low altutude and air speed. Any thoughts on this would be welcome.

I plan to make the first take off and landing with only about 30 gal fuel and just myself so wieght should be only about 2650 lbs

Finally my buddy wants to film my first landing and take off so if there is any interst in seeing how the reality plays out against the speculation i will post the film for review.

thanks for your thoughts

You might experiment with this in less challenging terrain. I believe you can gain more altitude in less distance by remaining in ground effect to a higher speed than 87kias, though I don’t know exactly where the cross-over point would be. Remember that in ground effect you have halved the drag, so you are adding energy to the plane more efficiently. You can then zoom climb to Vy, or on down to Vx if you still have a clearance issue.

Pitching immediately for Vx is an FAA certification test, but NOT the best way to gain altitude in a hurry.


I suspect, if executed properly, with all factors in your favor (winds, temps, AC weight, etc…) this could be done. It has little or no margin for error. If it just had one thing more in its favor (paved, or lower altitude for example) it might be more acceptable to me. I for one would not attempt this because of its limited margin. But its your plane, your life. Hell yes I want to see the video, I hope it shows a successfull outcome and I hope no one concludes I am cheerleading your attempt. It is risky, but if your gonna try it I want to see the result (either way). Good luck!

I agree with you, i’ve tried both and felt like the in ground effect way was better but it was kind of subjective as to how far i had gone vs altutude achieved but im leaning to this method

I wonder if Ed Benson trolls these waters.

A couple years back I got tangled up trying to describe this zoom effect in relation to Vx vs Vy, and he straightened me out- no easy task- and his description, some from Kerschner’s excellent book, was pretty lucid.

Anyway, Blu, I remember your posts from before- aren’t you a COPAman any more? You should definitely cough up the 65 beans, because this is just the sort of discussion COPAns love. Odds are 7-2 they’d call you crazy for thinking about this.

I landed a taildragger on an 800 ft strip in Alabama in August, hot and humid, elevation 700 ft- and with a 60 foot rise begining at the 400 foot mark, and despite overshooting a bit, the rise stopped me pretty quick. So that was cool.

But taking off in the other direction was terrifying, and I wouldn’t do it again on a bet- the ground disappeared, and I thought I would nose over. That plane was pretty well matched to that mission.

I’m not sure how you’d prepare for that in a Cirrus, which is not so well prepared for what you describe. Best damned planes on the planet, but there are compromises inherent in every flying thing.


Thanks for clarifying the “one way” strip. I am also glad so see you are not counting on brakes on the dirt strip. I recall an accident at El Gallito also known as Hotel Serenidad, Muleje Baja California Sur. Their strip is about 3900’ AFIR and is dirt. I was at dinner after we arrived and tied down when I heard there had been an accident on the runway. By the time I got to the airport, the plane, an older Mooney had been moved off to the side. It was a sorry sight, one main gear collapsed, nose gear lower cowl and prop badly damaged, damage to both wingtips. It was probably declared a total loss.

I walked the runway to try to figure out what happened. About 1/3 of the length, there were ruts in the dirt curving off to the left (facing in the direction of landing, north) and the plowed berm was displaced and the small wood fence damaged. I talked to the pilot and he said the brake “grabbed” or something like that. Begs the question of why use brakes at all on a dirt runway at anything other than a taxi speed. It was pretty clear that one brake worked (presumably the left) and the other did not thus the immediate departure from the runway.

I’m still around, but with no Cirrus I less often have stuff to add.

I don’t recall that thread, but it might yield to a search.

Back on topic, 1,800 is not enough, IMHO. Not even at sea level, much less at elevation.

Doable? Yes, but with near perfect technique. I think its a recipe for disaster.

I’m with Ed. According to the POH the ground run at a 5000 foot field elevation and a 20 degree OAT is about 1400 feet at gross weight. While I understand the plane would be light there is simply not sufficient margin for error for this to be a safe operation.

I have no doubt it could be done but if there are any problems (sudden wind shifts for example) you may find yourself up the creek without a paddle.

Please be careful. What you are describing is NOT what the Cirrus was really designed to do.


One of the changes that has happened in COPA over the years is that as a group, we’ve become much more civil and constructive, rather than critical. A very good evolution in my opinion, other than sometimes people’s stating their opinion politely subdues the conviction that’s behind their comments.

I think there is a good body of very experienced, skilled pilots who are saying that it’s not a good idea to do what you’re contemplating. I’d urge you to take their comments to heart, and remember that in addition to yourself, there are others that are profoundly impacted if you were to make a decision that had a bad outcome.

COPA is a wonderful resource. I’ve found that when I follow the collective advice, my safety is meaningfully enhanced.

Good luck.

Andy Bresler


Well I made two landings today. It was a little easier than i expected. I did a go around on the first approach per my plan but also i felt the speed was about 5 kts high. the second aprouch felt great at 65 ias bleeding down to 60 right at touch down i used only minimal braking as its dirt and i felt i had a lot of strip left. take off was a nonevent off the ground about where i stoped on the landing and accelerated in ground effect to 80 then an easy climb out to clear the hill.

My friend filmed the landing and take off but i could only get the landing to load on the computer anyway for thos that want to see it its on youtube do a search for “landingN-S” and it should come right up if someone is a little more computer savey than me maybe they could post a link on here.

Nicely executed. Perhaps you might park the heavy equipment farther from the runway to keep any minor excursions minor?

This link should work http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QMaJZ7AQPRk

Nice job on airspeed control. The area is far more open than your post led me to believe.

Thanks for posting the link. I have to admit it does look more open than it feels in the video. That maybe partly because he was up on the hill and shooting down for the video. Also the cliffs in the background are 2500’ tall so they make everything else look flat. but it also maybe that in planning for it i was a little intimidated and now looking back it seems easier than i thought. I know i spent a long time worring about the climb out on take-off and then after i did it i wondered why cause it was no big deal.

Thanks for all the feed back, its always good to get some other peoples thoughts on things you have to get right the first time.


this is a shot looking towards the aproach en

d from mid field

this is a shot looking at the approach end from mid field, The truck on the left is 10 1/2 feet tall