Soft field landing and take off for real

I don’t know about you, but during my training in the Northeastern US, I learned to fly around NYC and later I was based out of DCA, I was told how to deal with heavy ATC traffic, how to manage icing, how to land on snow contaminated runways, and also how to land and take off from soft and short fields. But given that there are not too many real grass fields out there in the NE USA (and that insurance does not like you to train on grass), training was mostly simulated. Once I got to Guatemala however I was faced with a real challenge: Land and take off from a grass strip… My first reaction was: Oh my God! Here we go with my nice Mooney… what should I do? I must say that I was really scared. I already saw myself calling my insurance telling them that my plane was totaled…

So after taking off from La Aurora and flying East of the Pacaya Volcano at 6500 feet to the South, I started descending to 1000 feet to join the pattern at Iztapa, a very nice grass field where the local Aeroclub runs a Hotel and a Restaurant. I joined the left downwind for Runway 27, throttled back to 17 MP, GUMPS check (Gas, Undercarriage, Mixture, Prop, Safety) and reduced speed to 100 mph. Radio calls! In Spanish! 45 degrees over my left shoulder time to turn base (don’t forget flaps), 90 mph…. what a beautiful scenary… Suddenly my GPS shouts at me: Terrain, Terrain…. pull up, pull up (what the heck is going on), of course the airport is not in the database… So shut up Garmin… ok let’s turn final full flaps, reduce speed to 80 and then 75 mph and I see a green field… delimitated by some white cones. And I should land there…??? No way… Let’s not forget softfield procedure! keep the plane flying, keep it flying… stall horn, and bump… I landed… keep the yoke back… radio call and I cleared the field….

You may ask me: what was different? Well not much… but that statement comes after the fact… I can assure you that I was soaked…

Here is the video of that flight. I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoy flying around here.

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