Short Runway at the Lake

Neither have I, nevertheless the airport at Lake Zurich felt as if it was one. After a nice and stable approach over the water – which reminded me of flying floats at 500′ and below – I touched down pretty much on the numbers and I didn’t even need to apply braking on the short runway.

The shortest airfield I landed at before was Darrington (1S2) in Washington state. It had 2500 feet, 760m, available. Sure,  it had tall trees on the approach end but the runway itself was long compared to the 1460ft or 460m at Zurich. The direct but light crosswind gave a good oppurtunity to land in a sideslip (upwind wing low and rudder in the other direction). During the roundout the wind seemed to be very low so I didn’t touch down on the upwind wheel but on both the mains at the same time. Actually my father and I visited this aerodrome to drop off his brother. Instead of flying direct we took a little scenic tour.


We were just low enough to see the waves over the Lake of Zug. I told the others on board to look for glassy water along the shoreline. This would suggest that it was the leeward side and – in this case – a tailwind for us. My father glimpsed at the GPS and he laughed out loud when he saw a 9 knot tailwind. 🙂 Yes, I actually learned something on the rivers and lakes of Canada. I even remember the moment when I learned exactly this wind-lesson. Flying along a lake in British Columbia my instructor Tom told me to circle around an island, find out the wind direction and land. I remembered the theory-stuff: The glassy water along a shoreline suggests it was in the lee. Okay, I got it and landed. After touchdown Tom told me to shut down the engine. As soon as the propeller stopped the airplane would weathervane into the wind. It turned exactly 180°. He didn’t say a word but I understood. A-ha! 🙂

The Skylark feels more and more familiar to me. The variable pitch propeller is fun to play with and I even appreciate the speed of the airplane. It took fairly some time to get the word “Speedmanagment” into my head. But now I am ready for the flights with the instructor. Just to learn how this bird behaves in unusual situations. Looking forward to it!

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