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‘Cleared short approach’

Tommy Condon is a student at Rocky Mountain College in Billings, Montana. He has been sharing his Success Stories with Flight Training’s Facebook page since his very first solo in 2013. We’re proud to bring you Tommy’s latest achievement.—Ed.

Tommy Condon after his commercial certificate checkride.

Tommy Condon after his commercial certificate checkride.

Ever since I first started my ever-expanding career in aviation, I never figured myself to be sitting in a special aerobatic Bonanza E33C on my commercial checkride only two years into my training.

With that comes the special phrase from air traffic control that will frighten many. For me, that was, “Rocky 79 short approach approved, cleared to land Runway 10L.”

At this point we had already completed the maneuvers and precision landings. I made it this far with no complaints and now all that is left is the dreaded, heart-pounding power-off 180.

This is when my examiner said, “Alright, let’s see the money maker.” (Pun intended.) As we came abeam the intended landing point, the power went to idle. Did I mention the Bonanza is no Cessna when it comes to gliding?

I pushed the nose over, watching the VSI near -1,000 fpm! As I turned onto my final approach, I noticed I was low. I thought, This is it, I’ll see if I can get in ground effect and burn this drag off.

We were in ground effect at the beginning of the runway. As I aimed for the 1,000′ footers, my back-pressure was gradually increasing almost nearing full aft! It was time, the airplane wanted to be on the ground.

Chirp, chirp! Right on the mark! That day, I truly realized how much of a pal ground effect is!

Every day I am thankful to be in this industry and the challenges it offers, which are well worth the effort to accomplish. It is important to remember that some may burn out of the industry, but those who stay will truly understand the emotion and fulfillment behind to see the sights we see, the satisfaction, and the connections we build among each other.

Name: Tommy Condon

Age: 20

Event: Commercial pilot checkride

Where: Rocky Mountain College, Billings Logan International (BIL), Billings, Montana

Airplane: Beechcraft E33C Bonanza
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1 Comment

  1. Brooks Martin

    June 5, 2015 at 4:41 pm

    Mr. Condon, congratulations on your power off 180 landing. A few comments: a) not only did your glide extension benefit from ground effect increasing wing efficiency, you also got a reduced headwind component (if any). The wind gradient ensures that winds near the ground will be lighter than those aloft. Anytime you need to stretch a glide, going low early will help. I learned this during glider training, where power off is the norm 🙂 b) study of glider instructional books will increase your airmanship. The wind gradient also explains why one often needs to lower the nose on final to maintain airspeed – as your headwind decreases while descending, the airspeed decreases too. Inertia of the plane prevents it from accelerating fast enough to make up for this loss of airspeed (and loss of drag). c) Wind gradient helps on takeoff if you take off into the wind. If you make a downwind takeoff, though, the wind gradient is continually stealing airspeed, and your rate of climb is lower than expected. d) The standard landing for the Pitts is a power off 180; my sink rate is larger than yours, however: 1500-2000 fpm in Bozeman. They are challenging to land, but fun to fly. Look me up if you ever get to Bozeman.

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