Grass Strip Landings with a Pro

A professional pilot reviews short- and soft-field takeoffs and landings at three grass strips, and explains why the experience is important for those flying for airlines.


Occasionally getting off the beaten path is an important experience for pilots, according to airline captain Sam Weigel.

"Many young pilots get their private and commercial licenses without ever having flown off of unpaved runways or short ones, or ones that are just short for the density altitude, or ones with obstacles or mountains around," Weigel said. "Instead, student instructors simulate these conditions on long, paved runways, going through the motions without ever experiencing the effects of real-world conditions."  

This week, Weigel flies to three grass strips to review the important short- and soft-field techniques a pilot can hone while visiting them.

Sam Weigel has been an airplane nut since an early age, and when he's not flying the Boeing 737 for work, he enjoys going low and slow in vintage taildraggers. He and his wife live west of Seattle, where they are building an aviation homestead on a private 2,400-foot grass airstrip.

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