Learning From Mistakes Image Credit: Flying
Learning From Mistakes Image Credit: Flying

Learning From Mistakes

A Visit To A Grass Strip In Early Spring Teaches Valuable Lessons

Robert Hanrahan

It was a chilly March day in New Jersey, but the temperatures were finally rising above freezing on a regular basis. Signs of snow had all but vanished, and we CFIs at the flight school were looking forward to the start of spring and better flying weather.

On my schedule was a private pilot with whom I would occasionally meet for a refresher flight. As always, he reserved our Piper PA-28 Warrior for a two-hour block of dual instruction. Though legally current, my client didn’t fly often and was a relatively low-time pilot. Before heading out, we established a plan, which included performing stalls, steep turns and emergency procedures because he thought those were the areas where he had the least recent experience. I suggested some takeoff and landing practice, including soft- and shortfield work.

We flew to our usual practice area and covered the airwork before I pulled the throttle well above the nice little airfield with its short runway at Aeroflex-Andover (12N). He did a good job with his engine-out and short-field procedures. As we departed back toward Essex County Airport (KCDW), I asked if he had done any actual soft-field landings. He replied that he hadn’t, but had always wanted to try.

I directed him toward nearby Trinca Airport (13N), a 1,920-foot grass strip that I visited many times over the years. I had him fly over the field, and we took a good look at the runway, which

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