The Displaced-Threshold Trap


The pilot of a Baron landing Runway 30R at Bakersfield, Calif., told me this story. The runway is two miles long, but has a 3500-foot displaced threshold.

“Tower cleared me to land with a ‘Caution wake turbulence behind the departing single-engine Cessna.’ That didn’t sound too bad. As I broke out, I aimed for the standard touchdown point and spotted an airplane ahead.

“At about 300 feet, I was slowing to just below blue line. Suddenly, I dropped like a rock—from a descent of 500 FPM became 2000 FPM. I slammed in full power but got no more speed and no less descent. I swore to myself I wasn’t going to stall. I maintained pitch and held on. Now I identified the departing Cessna, a FedEx Caravan climbing at a high deck angle. Fifty feet before smashing into the runway, I got air back and made a smooth landing.

“Tower called me with, ‘Nicely done, sir.’ I told them it would have helped me a lot to have heard, ‘Caution, wake turbulence behind the departing FedEx Caravan.’

“Wake from even a “single-engine” airplane is dangerous if you pass directly through its wake because you’re not authorized to land short. —F.R.


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