No I didn’t try to land on a sidewalk but it sure felt it when I was landing at a strip that’s a third of the width of my home airport. Sure I’ve read about the illusions caused by different runway widths or slopes, but I finally experienced it. As stated in the PHAK:
“A narrower-than-usual runway can create an illusion that the aircraft is higher than it actually is, leading to a lower approach. “
Most references to runway illusions have drawings to demonstrate the difference. Here’s a real world example. Leveraging GPS data from the Garmin Virb Elite that records my flights I was able to get two shots that are close to the same altitude above the runways. On the left is my home base, Hartford Brainard KHFD runway 2 at 4417×150 ft. On the right is Simsbury 4B9 runway 3 coming in at skinny 2205×50 ft. I overlaid the HFD runway perspective on the Simsbury runway to show the difference.
To add to the challenge, there were the snow banks packed to the edge of the runway. Luckily I fly a Cessna Skyhawk 172, a high-wing. Yeah, I know the wings on the 172 are only 36 feet which gives me more than enough room. Somehow it made me feel better knowing I had a less of a chance of doing some snow clearing then if I was in a low-wing.
So how’d the rest of the story play out? Well as expected, I did think I was higher than I actually was and the runway sure did sneak up on me. It wasn’t a bad landing and it sure wasn’t a soft one. The good news is that the 2 follow up landings were much better once I understood the brain games that were in play. Another lesson learned. Isn’t that what it’s all about?
Now on to find some sloped runways to round out my runway illusion series. I heard Sky Acres 44N is a good one. Anyone have other recommendations in the area?