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4 Things You Should Know About Runway Illusions, And How To Solve Them

Have you ever flown into an exceptionally wide/narrow runway, or one that has a noticeable slope? Here's what you should know about illusions you could encounter on your next flight...

1) Narrow Runways

A narrower-than-usual runway can create an illusion that the aircraft is higher than it actually is, leading to a lower approach.

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2) Wide Runways

A wider-than-usual runway can create an illusion that the aircraft is lower than it actually is, leading to a higher approach.

3) Downsloping Runway

A downsloping runway can create the illusion that the aircraft is lower than it actually is, leading to a higher approach.

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4) Upsloping Runway

An upsloping runway can create the illusion that the aircraft is higher than it actually is, leading to a lower approach.

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So... What can you do to avoid these illusions?

Review Runway Specifications During Your Approach Briefing

Use airport diagrams or your chart supplement (formerly the Airport/Facility Directory) to research runway slope and width information.

Use Glidepath References

Use Visual Approach Slope Indicator (VASI) or Precision Approach Path Indicator (PAPI) systems for a visual reference, or an electronic glideslope, whenever they are available.

Reference Your Altimeter

As you're in the pattern and on final approach, use your altimeter as a secondary reference to judge height above the ground (compare altimeter to field elevation).

Where have you encountered these illusions? Tell us in the comments below.

Take The Next Step...

Do you have a perfect takeoff and landing every time? Neither do we. That's why we built our Mastering Takeoffs and Landings online course.

You'll learn strategies, tactics and fundamental principles that you can use on your next flight, and just about any takeoff or landing scenario you could imagine. Even better, the course is full of tools you can come back to throughout your flying career.


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