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.