There is a Man on the Runway

It was a routine training flight with the student and I practicing touch and go landings. We touched down, took off, and continued around the pattern. As we turned final I said, “Look, someone is on the runway!”

The student replied “Where?”

Wrong Answer

I insisted, “I think he is taking a picture, about a third of the way down the runway.”

“I don’t see him” was the student’s reply, as he continued his approach.

“He’s right there, I can see him!”

The student continued to look but could not see him.

As we descended further, approaching touchdown, I prompted the student to go around.

No, there was not a man on the runway. I made the whole thing up! The point is to get the student to think about how they naturally react in a situation like that.

The information they are presented with is that somebody in the plane observes a hazard (and a person on the runway is a big hazard). They cannot see the hazard themselves but they have a description of it.

The safest avenue is to trust your passengers and go around. I don’t care if it is a small child who can barely see over the seat, I will trust what they say and go around.

An appropriate time to ask “Where?” is not until during or after the go around, depending on how far ahead of the airplane you are.

What would you have done? Would you have asked “Where?” or just began the go around?

This can also apply to other situations like:

  • Collision avoidance
  • Obstacle clearance
  • Engine/systems monitoring