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Landing on slush and snow

January 23, 2010

I flew a C150 to Clarksburg, WV last weekend, landing at the Barbour County Regional Airport (79D). The runway was covered in 2-3 inches of snow and slush, which was not a significant problem since it is a long, hard surface runway and there was practically no wind. Of course I made sure to have several alternate runways nearby in case the conditions looked too bad at 79D.

Approaching to land on slush and snow

Approaching to land on slush and snow

After touchdown

After touchdown

At the hangars...

At the hangars...

The Cessna 150’s slow approach speed and 40 degrees of flaps made the landing quite easy. After landing I had good traction right away, but the airplane noticeably slowed down due to the slush and standing water.

When landing a light aircraft on slush or snow, the most important consideration is to make a good inspection of the runway. In this case the aircraft owner was at the airport and described the runway conditions over VHF radio when I approached.

Other considerations include extended accelerate-stop distance, reduced braking effectiveness, and difficulty maintaining directional control. Airplanes using reverse thrust must be especially careful not to weather-vane on landing, because the reverse thrust will tend to move the airplane in the opposite direction. If taking off on snow and slush, cycle the landing gear after takeoff to make sure it doesn’t freeze in place. Make sure the cabin heat works, and have a cup of hot cocoa after landing 🙂

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