‘High and hot’ into Tennant creek

The airport at Tennant Creek was asphalt, and long enough to handle the Douglas DC-9, the smallest jet aircraft in scheduled commercial service in Australia.  A short distance from the end of the runway was a cliff several hundred feet high; far enough away that the DC-9 could clear it on takeoff.  It should be no problem for the Comanche I was flying.

As I approached the runway I came in ‘high and hot’, meaning that I came in a little fast and a little above the optimum descent path.  The problem wass that if I lowered the nose, the airplane would gain speed; to keep speed down I had to come in too high.

Well, the runway was plenty long for me, and by applying full flap I could descend a little faster, without gaining more speed.  I should be all right.

As I descended to the runway and lifted the nose before touch-down, the airplane began to float.  About three feet above the runway we floated.  I had come in ‘high and hot’, and now I was faced with the result of a bad approach.

Furthermore, it was a hot day, and heat rising from the hot asphalt runway also kept me floating.

The Comanche just would not land.  And that big cliff was dead ahead.  I had too much speed to land, but not enough to apply power and go around for another approach.

I floated for over half the runway length before the wheels touched down.

I applied the brakes, and held them on.

The Comanche finally stopped at the far end of the runway.

It was a long taxi back, but we were safe and OK.

Another lesson learned.

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