Back in the day, landing on a grass strip was a normal occurrence. Some people flew their entire lives without plopping their wheels onto concrete. Nowadays it seems that finding a soft surface can be problematic. We practice soft-field landing techniques but usually on one of the many paved airports in the area, and that’s too bad because landing on a grass field is an experience every pilot should try.

Our closest true soft field is at Holly Hill (5J5), a short 30-mile trip northwest of us. The strip is 2900 x 150, so plenty wide and though shorter than you may be accustomed to here at the Air Force base, is still plenty long for our Cessnas and Pipers. There’s something about seeing trees so close that makes you want to practice your short-field techniques at the same time, which is the point of flying there- you can make some judgment calls that you don’t really have to think about at Charleston International.

I always felt that my grass landings were some of my best. As you get close to the ground and start your flare, you can actually hear and feel the blades of grass on your tires, allowing you to gauge exactly where you are in relation to the surface, and make one final tiny adjustment and hold the airplane off just a second or two longer until you are rolling. Sweet!

If you have never had the pleasure of landing on grass, ask you CFI about taking a trip to Holly Hill and practice a few soft-field takeoffs and landings. Even better, take a picnic lunch and walk around- it will take you back to an age when aviation was young.