Flying a low approach over the Shuttle Landing Strip

Marty Altman, March 22, 2001

These images are some of the highlights from a training flight I took from the Orlando Executive Airport (KORL), that involved flying a low approach over the NASA Shuttle Landing Facility (KTTS).

I had successfully completed ground school, and was beginning my flight training out of the Orlando Executive Airport. Dj Merrill, a pilot friend, was in town for a visit, and wanted to go flying since the weather was good. I called and confirmed my instructor, Brad Skirnick, and a Cessna 172 were available, so we took advantage of the opportunity.

After paperwork and preflight, we took off at about 5:15pm local. There was some haze, but otherwise conditions were pretty much "severe clear". We headed east toward the Shuttle Landing Facility. Dj was in the back seat snapping these photos.

Nearing KTTS, we called and asked permission to fly a low approach. Permission was granted, so long as we didn't drop below 500 feet. On the way in, I was taken by just how gigantic that runway is. For those keeping score it is 15,000 feet long, with 1,000-foot paved overruns on each end, and 300 feet wide, with 50-foot shoulders on each side. It felt almost like there was enough room to land small airplanes sideways (cross-axis)!

I wound up a little preoccupied during the flyover, though. My instructor wanted to take advantage of being in the air to get some training in--he had me lower the flaps and minimize my airspeed while holding as close to 500 feet as possible. Not the end-all by any means, but flying dirty and uncomfortably close to stall speed while at 500 feet was a little "interesting" for a rookie pilot...

We landed a little after 6:30pm local, and caught part of the sunset on our taxi in. Good flight, good weather, and total flight time logged was 1.3 hours. We had fun flying and had a nifty view of the Shuttle Landing strip.

A few interesting references: NASA: Shuttle Landing Facility
Wikipedia: Shuttle Landing Facility Airport info for KTTS Airport info for KORL Aeronautical Chart for KTTS

All the images Dj took on the flight that day (total of 114)

© 2011 Marty Altman

Last updated: August 6, 2011